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This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday, we paused to honor the millions of men and women who have served this country in the military.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, this nation annually takes a moment to reflect solemnly on the end of World War I. The "War to End All Wars" – as it was called at the time – concluded on November 11, 1918, after four years of unimaginable sacrifices from brave men and women.

In 1938, the day became a national holiday. Less than a year later, World War II began when Hitler's troops invaded Poland.

Since then, we have seen brave soldiers leave home and fight for this country all over the world – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, just to name a few.

Veterans Day is marked with ceremonies and remembrances nationwide for the men and women who have worn the uniform of their country. Maine celebrated our nation's heroes with parades, dedications and presentations throughout the State.

Maine is a small state, but when the call to service comes our men and women step forward.

Right now, there are more than 150,000 veterans living in the State of Maine. More than 10,000 of them are women.

During World War II, more than 10 percent of Maine's population served in uniform. Today, we have more than 14,000 living veterans from World War II.

During the Korean War, more than 41,000 men and women from Maine answered the call to duty, and 64,000 Mainers served in Vietnam.

Mainers have continued to answer the call by serving in the Persian Gulf and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is my duty as Governor, and our collective duty as citizens of the United States, to show veterans from every war how thankful we are for their service and how we will never forget their sacrifices.

I consider it among my highest priorities as a public servant to ensure that our current and past soldiers and their families are looked after.

It is the least we can do as a State and as a nation.

We've built a strong support network for our veterans and our current military personnel, and we continually work to improve the services we can offer.

Earlier this year I signed legislation creating a Veterans Campus in Bangor.

Once finished, it will become a "one-stop-shop" for our veterans.

The campus will provide independent housing, many forms of medical care, and the information and programs administered by the state's Bureau of Maine Veterans Services, all in a single place. The Veterans Campus will improve convenience, access, efficiency, coordination and - most importantly - quality for veterans in the State.

To honor our nation's veterans, a couple of years ago we presented the first State of Maine Gold Star and Silver Star Honorable Service Medals to servicemen and women from all wars.

The Gold Star Honorable Service Medal is awarded to families of fallen soldiers, and the Silver Star Honorable Service Medal is awarded to Purple Heart recipients and former Prisoners of War.

These veterans never asked to be honored. They don't look for the recognition or the pat on the back. But it is our way of saying "thank you" to them and especially to their families for everything that they have done and sacrificed for their State and their nation.

To date, we have honored 100 former Prisoners of War and 360 Purple Heart recipients.

Veterans Day for this year has past. But there are many opportunities everyday to say "thank you" to the men and women who serve in the military.

It could be a veteran that you know. It could be a family member or a neighbor. Or it could be a veteran that you see at a ceremony receiving recognition for their service.

Or it could be a future veteran who is taking an airplane in and out of Bangor International Airport and met by the troop greeters; or the lady flag wavers in Freeport; or people all over the State who are thanking our men and women who are serving in today’s wars.

They all deserve our thanks, our gratitude for everything they have done and everything they continue to do.

And to them and the men and women who are currently serving overseas: We hold you close in our hearts and prayers and anxiously await your happy and safe return home.

Thank you for listening.

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