By Nihad Awad
President John F. Kennedy once said: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
Another president, Abraham Lincoln, wrote, "Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause."
We can best honor our nation's veterans through deeds, not mere words.
There are more than 20 million American veterans, many of whom are suffering or in need of assistance.
by Robert McCaw
"Our country's Founders understood the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of all Americans was to fight for justice and equality as well as liberty and freedom."
- Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, 2014 Pentagon Iftar Dinner
On Veteran's Day, American Muslims, like other communities, thank those who have served in our nation's armed forces.
The nation's military draws its service members from all communities including the American Muslim community, which has contributed over 6,000 soldiers who have served honorably in overseas war deployments since 2001.
Out of those volunteer soldiers, at least 14 American Muslims have made the ultimate sacrifice having been killed in action.
In March, CAIR staff and board members who are U.S. veterans marked Memorial Day with the release of a video featuring Muslim veterans honoring the sacrifices Muslim soldiers have made for their country.
Today's celebration finds its origins in Armistice Day, a day of national reflection and gratitude for the hard fought victory that marked the end of World War I. As history marched forward each generation of Americans has responded with courage and bravery to the call of service and we as a nation have established Veterans Day to demonstrate our deep appreciation.
There is not a single faith or community that is not represented by our nation's soldiers in uniform. When Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England helped dedicate the Marine Corps' first Islamic prayer center in 2006, he recognized that we are "a nation of people from all races and creeds who believe in liberty and freedom."
As a nation we are able to salute the service of our veterans while still publicly opposing the immoral political motivations that some administrations have used to justify sending our troops into harm's way. We are able to separate the service of volunteer soldiers from the decisions of policy makers and elected officials.
As a nation, we should better honor our veterans every day by empowering them through streamlining veterans' health care and benefits systems, securing more scholarships and educational grants for veterans, promoting veterans hiring programs, and ending the serious problem of veteran homelessness.
U.S. Muslims, like all other Americans today, will thank those who have served on our behalf and remember in our thoughts and prayers the ones who did not come home.