On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, fighting in World War I stopped. At the time, President Woodrow Wilson declared it the first Armistice Day. In 1954, the federal holiday was officially named Veterans Day to honor all American veterans. Every day, and especially on Veterans Day, I am grateful for the men and women who have answered the call to serve our country.
As a father of an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, I am proud of my son’s bravery and commitment to protect our nation, and I know that many American families share that same sense of pride. Of course, this pride is also marked by sadness as not everyone who serves returns home or comes back without battle scars. Physical, mental and emotional trauma can follow our veterans for the rest of their lives. But I cannot think of a better place to heal and rebuild than rural America.
After our veterans have served America by stepping up to protect us, they continue that spirit of service in new ways, some by putting food on our tables. The American Farm Bureau is proud to partner with and support the Farmer Veteran Coalition, an organization committed to connecting veterans to agriculture. This coalition, the first of its kind, began when a small group of farmers met to discuss how they could create jobs for veterans on their farms. Statistically, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the military than those in urban areas. So it’s no surprise when many veterans return to the rural communities they called home before their military service.
In addition to our ongoing partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, we are delighted to sponsor their regional conferences this year. These conferences give attendees opportunities to share start-up stories, challenges faced and obstacles overcome, as well as connect with farmers and ranchers from across the country. These events are open to anyone interested in helping our veterans succeed in agriculture.
Through their Homegrown by Heroes label, which certifies products grown and raised by American veterans, the Farmer Veteran Coalition also provides a way for all Americans to support these brave men and women. I encourage you to visit their website at www.farmvetco.org to learn more about their events and the HBH certified label.
For generations, American men and women in uniform, and their families, have made tremendous sacrifices for our freedom. Because of their bravery and courage, we have the privilege of living freely in this great country. Now, we must also step up and do more than say thank you. Together, we can help provide opportunities for veterans to continue using their talents, and we can honor their selflessness in putting their lives on the line for us.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.