On Veteran’s Day, we honor and remember the military heroes who have served our country. I wonder if most of us appreciate the freedoms we have. It is very easy to take things for granted but today is a day to reflect on the sacrifices made by all who have fought for and helped to ensure our lives and our liberty. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, not only today, but every day.
Let us also not forget that it is not only humans who have served us and sacrificed for us. Let us also remember and honor the war dogs who have served in the military. Dogs have fought alongside humans since ancient times. There is documentation of their use in wars dating back to the 7th century BC. Among their many functions, they have been used for guarding, bomb detection and tracking, for communication and as a police presence. They have been used as scouts and as “mascots” to improve morale of the troops as well as for search and rescue.
For those who don’t know, the most decorated war dog in our nation’s history was a pit bull. Stubby was a stray dog found near a military training facility in New Haven, Connecticut. He served for eighteen months in the 102nd Infantry during World War I. Besides improving morale, Stubby helped to locate wounded soldiers, warn his regiment of mustard gas attacks, and singlehandedly captured and held an enemy spy. He was wounded multiple times in the line of duty and earned the rank of Sergeant.
Stubby was smuggled home by a solder, Robert Conroy, after the war. He attended Georgetown University Law School with Conroy and became the university’s mascot. He met three presidents and received a Medal of Honor as well as a gold medal from the Humane Education Society. Upon his death in 1926, Stubby received a half-page obituary in the New York Times and now has a place in the Smithsonian Museum’s Price of Freedom exhibit.
Currently, about 2,500 dogs are used by our armed forces. In 2000, President Clinton, signed into law, a bill that allows military dogs to come home after their service and be adopted into homes. Today, retired military dogs are often used as therapy dogs.
So, this Veteran’s Day we honor all of the heroes who have served us so bravely and so well. I hope every American will take a moment today to thank a veteran and reflect on what our veterans have sacrificed for all of us. From a proud and grateful American, I say to all of you, "thank you!"