One hundred years ago on Nov. 11, our nation observed the first Armistice Day — the precursor to what we now celebrate as Veterans Day.

Just a year earlier, at 11:11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent across the battlefields of Europe. Just hours before, the carnage of war had raged on, as millions of men and women struggled on behalf of their countries.

Now — a century later — we pause, as a nation, at 11:11 a.m. each year on Veterans Day to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice no matter when or where they served.

As Wisconsin’s adjutant general, I want to take a moment to say “thank you” to all those who wear the uniform of our nation’s armed forces. You represent the very best this nation has to offer.

To the Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard, I want you to know how proud I am of each and every one of you. Our National Guard has answered the call to serve since the earliest days of American history dating back to 1636 and the minutemen of the original colonies.

The minuteman remains a poignant symbol of inspiration for all who serve in our National Guard. The minuteman is often depicted leaving his plow behind and picking up his musket to defend his home, his family, his community, his country from those who threaten that which he holds dear. Even in 2019, that image serves as a reminder of all the reasons we serve today, and why we must remain Always Ready, and Always There.

We are all connected to that original minuteman. We all serve to protect our way of life, our homes, our loved ones, our state and our great nation. Just like those original minutemen, we must be ready at a moment’s notice to be able to drop our plow and pick up the musket. And just like our Soldiers and Airmen, patriotic employers, families, and communities must also be ready at a moment’s notice to carry on in our absence and support us while we are away.

I’m tremendously proud of each and every American that serves in our armed forces, and I’m particularly proud of the men and women serving in our Wisconsin National Guard. You represent the very best our state has to offer. Roughly only 25 percent of Americans in the age range fit to serve are even eligible for service. You represent the less than one percent that raised your right hand and volunteered, and for that you should be immensely proud.

Thank you for what you do for Wisconsin and our nation. Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude, and I am grateful and humbled to serve alongside you. Just as those original minutemen, we will remain Always Ready, and Always There.

To those veterans that went before us, I offer you a humble “thank you,” from the bottom of my heart. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we all owe you our undying respect for all you sacrificed on behalf of the United States of America.

God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

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