November 11, Veterans Day, was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, the “War to End All Wars” 100 years ago. Armistice Day underwent a name change in 1954 to Veterans Day to include our veterans of all wars. It is fitting to pay tribute to all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
In the aftermath of WWI, under the leadership of Gen. John ‘Black Jack‘ Pershing, Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1923 to be the guardian of American cemeteries and memorials overseas to honor the service and sacrifice of American military.
The Commission oversees 25 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil, commemorating the 218,000, there buried. I am honored to serve as a member of the Commission. Visiting and speaking at a number of cemeteries, the best known being the American Cemetery at Normandy, has been a moving experience. The grave sites are truly sacred ground, particularly so for me since I had three brothers who served in the military overseas in World War II. The Commission’s motto is “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” Gen. Pershing was the first Chairman of the Commission and remained so until his death, being followed by Gen. George C. Marshall.
General Marshall is one of my heroes. As Secretary of State, his short 1500 word speech, at Harvard on June 5, 1947, after World War II, changed the world forever. His “family of nations” concept laid the Foundation for U.S. assistance to the countries of Europe. What followed became known as the Marshall Plan. The Plan eventually expanded beyond Europe to include the 34 most developed nations of the world. This was the origin of the Organization of Economic Opportunity and Development (OECD), headquartered in Paris, that works on sharing best practices to “level the world’s playing field.” I was privileged to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the OECD from 2003-2007. While I was there on June 13, 2007, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in conjunction with the Marshall Foundation at the Hotel de Talleyrand, now the George C. Marshall Center.
Gen. Marshall was a great patriot and statesman who always remembered and honored his military colleagues. The Marshall Foundation, on whose Council of Advisors I serve, continues to preserve and honor the legacy of George C. Marshall. In that spirit, we salute and thank our American veterans of all wars to whom we owe so much; our liberty, freedom, and opportunity. “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
This Week’s Guest Blogger: Ambassador Constance A. Morella
|Ambassador Constance Morella is a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission that was once chaired by Gen. John J. Pershing and later by his protégé General George C. Marshall. She served as a congresswoman for the state of Maryland for 16 years, during which time she developed a national reputation as a leader in efforts to promote economic growth through science and technology and was a leading advocate for women, children, and families. After leaving the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2007, she became a professor at American University’s School of Government, where she teaches courses in women, politics, and public policy.|