Veterans Day is a time to honor not just those who have fought for us in battle, but, in fact, all of the outstanding men and women who served in our nation’s Armed Forces since our founding 243 years ago.

Veterans will meet for breakfast Nov. 11 at 8 a.m. at The Maxx on Railroad Street to honor these brave men and women. It will be followed by a ceremony at 11:11 a.m. the south end of the Village Green, weather permitting.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at The Maxx.

In peacetime or wartime, all veterans have taken an oath indicating that they were willing to offer their lives to defend our Constitution and country.

Often times, it is the intimidating sight of an Army Ranger team, a Navy destroyer, an Air Force fighter jet, Marine Corps artillery or a Coast Guard cutter than deters an enemy from harming us.

Most veterans will agree that the best wars are the ones that are never fought.

But when war is necessary, America’s fighting men and women always come forward and put their country first.

Just five years after liberating two continents in World War II, they again answered the call in Korea, where 35,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice so others could be free.

Generations later, they served in places like the Persian Gulf, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, men and women in uniform are providing humanitarian aid and rescuing victims of natural disasters. Some serve in war zones and risk their lives on a daily basis. Some are Reservists and some are in the National Guard.

And while each takes pride in their branch of service, when an enemy threatens or a mission surfaces - they join together as one family and meet the challenge.

That is what veterans do. Country first.

How else could you describe the motives of someone who undergoes rigorous training, submits themselves to demanding superiors and uproots their lives for minimal pay and long hours?

When we hear about our high national debt, we should not minimize it, but we need to remember a higher debt. The one that we owe to those who have given so much to us.

We need to remember that to them war is not a mere history lesson or subject of a book. For them, the battles continue even after the firing stops and their return home is complete.

We need to remember that veterans’ benefits are a cost of war and a necessary part of fielding a strong national defense. We need to remember the sacrifices made, the lives lost and the lost family time.

We need to remember that Veterans Day is also freedom’s day.

Veterans put us first and today we put veterans first.

Jeff McBreairty is commander of the American Legion Post 31 in New Milford.