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At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 the armistice was signed bringing World War I to an end. In its time, it was known as "the war to end all wars." Sadly, that did not prove to be true. Since then, we have used this day to pay our respects and to honor the bravery of those who have served in the United States military.

Veterans Day is also the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of spouses, children and family members of soldiers on active duty and for those who have served or have been lost. We are humbled and grateful for their service and their commitment to our country and for the freedoms that we all enjoy.

Today, all across America, there will be parades and memorial services to honor our veterans. After the parades have ended, and after the speeches and patriotic slogans have faded from our minds, we should remember that an estimated 50,000 military veterans will be sleeping in the streets, in their cars, or in homeless shelters tonight.

The Cornerstone Rescue Mission plays an important role in honoring and actively supporting our homeless veterans. For 35 years, along with the unwavering support of our community, Cornerstone has been blessed with the opportunity to provide them with shelter, food, clothing, case management, living skills classes and most of all respect. We are grateful that we can give back to them by helping to restore healing and hope in their lives.

Cornerstone's six agencies (main mission, veterans' wing, women and children's home, child care, transitional apartments, and thrift store) can only be successful because of the generous support of our community. It is a testament to this amazing kindness and heart for service that we are able to serve 170,000 meals this year on a meager budget. The tireless and selfless support of volunteers from churches, businesses, service organizations, and from private citizens is what paves our path to success.

When you see the American flag flying today, thank a veteran. When you see someone wearing veteran’s attire or with a veteran’s license plate or decal, thank them. We extend our sincere gratitude to our men and women who have served with courage and honor. We salute you on this special day.

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Dr. Mark Harlow is an Army veteran and volunteer at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. He wrote this with Lysa Allison, an Army veteran and executive director of Cornerstone. 

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