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The weight of responsibility to veterans rests with all of us

The Aegis

“A nation at war.” For many, this idea evokes scenes of the early 1940s: car assembly lines transformed to build tanks and fighter planes, neighbors planting victory gardens, and colorful campaigns to sell war bonds.

But these black and white images seem a distant memory: Few of us living today have experienced such complete immersion in a conflict-centered national psyche.

In fact, the last time Congress exercised its constitutional power to declare war was June 5, 1942, against Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. Since World War II, our military has been engaged in numerous conflicts, large and small, around the globe, but none have involved a formal declaration of war.

This Veterans Day, it’s critical for us to remember that although it may not feel like it, we are, in fact, “a nation at war.” And with more than 16 years of continuous combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 182,000 soldiers supporting operations in 140 countries, we now have the largest population of young veterans since the Vietnam War — and it will continue to grow.

As Americans, we share in the collective responsibility to see our national conflicts through to victory, and to support the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend the Constitution and our way of life. Our veterans — Soldiers for Life, as we consider them in the Army — can only be successful because of the support that we, together, provide them.

Because it’s not the Army that goes to war. Or the Air Force, Navy, or Marines. It’s you, and it’s me. It’s our brother and sisters, neighbors, friends and co-workers. It’s our entire nation. Though the nature of warfare has evolved, the conflicts our soldiers are engaged in today are no less impactful to our national security and interests — and no less deadly. Accordingly, the burden to lift up these warriors, and their families who have sacrificed so much, rests on all of our shoulders.

Every day at Aberdeen Proving Ground, our team of 27,000 soldiers, civilians, and contractors work to ensure our warfighters are ready and equipped with the resources they need to be successful against all current and future adversaries. And, as a member of our extended community, you play a key role in helping us fulfill that mission.

In particular, Team APG is indebted to you, the residents of Harford County, for your contributions to our 100 years of success as the Army’s home of innovation.

I thank you for your ongoing support and look forward to strengthening the partnerships and deep bonds that have made APG a critical part of the northeastern Maryland community. This installation is your installation, because this Army is your Army — it belongs to you as much as it does to everyone who lives here or enters its gates each day.

Together, we savor the joys of victory. Together, we share the weight of grief when a warfighter falls. And together, we share the solemn duty to never overlook the sacrifice and service of our soldiers and to ensure that our gratitude and respect last forever. America’s Army, Your Army!

Army Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor is the senior commander at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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