Many years ago, my little sister was given a school assignment to write a thank-you to a veteran. In her childish scrawl, she sent a thank-you card and picture to our grandfather, who served in World War II. That card hung on his refrigerator until the time our family cleaned out his house following his death many years later.

The reason that card was so special? In the words of my grandfather, “Until now, I don’t think anyone ever thanked me for my service.”

Sadly, we’re quick to forget the sacrifice of those who fought for our country – even on Veterans Day. Below are five quotes to help us all reflect on the great debt we owe to our Veterans.

“[Veterans], by their lives, by the record of their deeds, teach us in more practical fashion than it can be taught by any preaching, for they teach us by practice, that in the ultimate analysis the greatness of a nation is to be measured not by the output of its industrial products, not by its material prosperity, not by the products of the farm, factory, business house, but by the products of its citizenship, by the men and women that that nation produces.” – Teddy Roosevelt

“Although all our people became engaged in this great conflict, some in furnishing money, some in producing food and clothing, some in making munitions, some in administering our Government, the place of honor will always be accorded to the men and the women who wore the uniform of our country – the living and the dead.” – Calvin Coolidge

“‘What did it get you?’

‘What was there in it for you?’

If our armies of 1917 and 1918 had lost there would not have been a man or woman in America who would have wondered why the war was fought. The reasons would have faced us everywhere. We would have known why liberty is worth defending as those alone whose liberty is lost can know it. We would have known why tyranny is worth defeating as only those whom tyrants rule can know.

But because the war had been won we forgot, some of us, that the war might have been lost.

Whatever we knew or thought we knew a few years or months ago, we know now that the danger of brutality and the danger of tyranny and slavery to freedom-loving peoples can be real and terrible.

We know why these men fought to keep our freedom—and why the wars that save a people’s liberties are wars worth fighting and worth winning—and at any cost.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“There is no way to maintain the frontiers of freedom without cost and commitment and risk. There is no swift and easy path to peace in our generation. No man who witnessed the tragedies of the last war, no man who can imagine the unimaginable possibilities of the next war, can advocate war out of irritability or frustration or impatience.

But let no nation confuse our perseverance and patience with fear of war or unwillingness to meet our responsibilities. We cannot save ourselves by abandoning those who are associated with us, or rejecting our responsibilities.

In the end, the only way to maintain the peace is to be prepared in the final extreme to fight for our country–and to mean it.” – John F. Kennedy

“Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they’ve suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us. That is our duty. They have never let America down. We will not let them down.” – Ronald Reagan

Image Credit: Brook Ward via Flickr