Every year on the 11th of November, we gather to convey our nation’s gratitude for those who have answered the call to military service and have stood toe-to-toe with those who have wished to do harm to America and her allies.

In 1775, early Americans took up arms to earn the very freedom that we cherish. Ever since, we have asked men and women to fight in every climb and place, in the name of that same freedom bequeathed to us by our forefathers.

We fought across the globe in the first and second world wars. We fought along the frozen reservoirs of Korea. We fought in the jungles of Vietnam. The year 2014 marks our final days in which we fight in Afghanistan.

As a young Marine exiting the rear deck of a CH-53 and embarking into the darkness of Afghanistan, I never dreamed that I would be part of the mere beginning of what would become the longest armed conflict in the history of our nation.

But for all the differences in those 239 years of armed conflict, one thing remains constant and will remain constant for all time: Men and women will carry their colors into battle, and fight and often perish, in the name of this great nation and the values and people for which she stands.

And as we surely continue to ask men and women to carry that standard into harm’s way, we will continue to refuse to forget them. We will refuse to forget their sacrifice and the reasons they have fought. Together, we will affirm our commitment to those who have borne the battle.

Today, this pledge remains as important as ever.

While we continue to ask our brothers and sisters to stand and face our enemies, we will continue to honor them with our advocacy, with our votes and with our remembrance of their sacrifices; not only on Veterans Day, but every day.

David LaCerte

secretary, Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs

Baton Rouge