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About 300 people gathered on the USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum in Alameda on Thursday to celebrate U.S. veterans.
The celebration began at 11 a.m. on the aircraft carrier moored at the Alameda shoreline. The starting time is significant.
World War 1 was officially over at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, after the Allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany, on what was called Armistice Day between World War I and World War II.
After World War II, Armistice Day became a day to celebrate veterans of both wars. In 1954, the U.S. designated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day to celebrate veterans of all wars.
“Today’s a day to celebrate the service of veterans,” U.S. Coast Guard Commander Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer said. “It’s also an opportunity for veterans to spread their understanding of this life of service to those who have never yet contemplated it, who might not know it.”
Increasingly, Penoyer said, military service has become a family business. Increasingly, the odds are very high that military service members are following in the footsteps of an immediate family member, he said.
That trend has only begun to reverse itself recently, he said.
Citing statistics, Penoyer said active-duty military presently number about 1.3 million men and women in six arms of service. That number increased to seven when the U.S. Space Force was created.
The number of people who have served their country in the armed forces is about 18 to 19 million, Penoyer said.
Reaching out to the public
“As a military it’s overwhelming important for us to explain ourselves to the American public,” Penoyer said.
But “while support for the military has never been higher,” he said, “understanding has never been lower.”
He urged the people in attendance to “meet and speak with those active duty, reserve, auxiliary and veteran military members in our midst so there can be no divide between the American public and the armed forces that serve that public.”
Penoyer also urged anyone concerned about the future of the U.S. armed forces to go to a boot camp and meet the men and women joining and serving.
“Far from being worried about our future,” he said, “I am excited about it.”
“My friends, America’s future is in good hands,” he said.
“You should rest easy tonight,” he said. “The watch has been assumed by a new generation who will do things that I can only dream of.”
Penoyer also encouraged the crowd to share Veterans Day with youth who may one day serve their country.
“Do not allow yourself to become part of a circle of service that is already established,” he told the crowd. “Instead take the message of Veterans Day and share it with those who are not part of the family business. And bring yet another generation of fine young Americans into the service under the cloth of their nation.”