Monday is Veterans Day and our community will pause for an annual ceremony to respectfully acknowledge the sacred trust our nation has with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America.

American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect, from those brave souls present when the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington in 1775 to those who have served - or still serve today - in Afghanistan and other remote lands and on the seas.

In war and in peace, our military men and women serve with honor. They are our best and brightest.

Nov. 11, 1918, is the day the First World War - ironically, the war to end all wars - ended, at 11 a.m., the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

A 1926 Congressional resolution authorizing the legal holiday encouraged the people of the United States "to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

But just over a decade later, war broke out in Europe and 16.5 million Americans would be called to serve - and more than 400,000 died, nearly 300,000 in battle.

The Allied victory in World War II liberated Europe from Hitler's reign and Nazi Germany's control.

Veterans of that era have a real sense of good and evil in the world. Our country was united in its goal of defeating Hitler's tyranny and evil.

The notion of American exceptionalism so prevalent during World War II - before modern liberalism infected many of our academic and religious institutions - is discounted today, but not by our veterans.

Our American exceptionalism is rooted in the belief that America was founded - like no other nation - on liberty, a constitution of limited government with enumerated powers and the well-being of ordinary citizens who possess "certain unalienable Rights." That's what our veterans have fought for, and our country will prevail so long as that holds true.

Yet, today we see individual liberties being stripped away. The state is at the center of modern liberalism. That's why after World War II there was such a rise in the government's role in addressing economic and social issues that should be handled at the local level and not by a big, central government.

It was a group of veterans from Mississippi who won the budget shutdown battle a few weeks ago when they stormed the closed World War II memorial.

And so perhaps it is the dead memorialized at our war monuments whom we will remember most on Monday.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions all our servicemen and women have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, we should give thanks to Almighty God for His protection and pray His continued blessing upon our free land.

The cost of freedom is high.

Still fresh on our minds are the deaths of two native sons in Iraq nine years ago, 1st Lt. Matthew Ryan Stovall, 25, and Sgt. Joshua S. Ladd, 20.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Stovalls and the Ladds and to all of the others who have made the ultimate sacrifice, a debt that never can be repaid.

As we honor those who have served, let us resolve to keep America great by affirming our exceptionalism that's rooted in individual human liberty, the idea that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."