KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Maj. Gen. Maria R. Gervais told a Veterans Day audience that today's service members stand on the shoulders of those who have served.

Gervais, deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center -- Training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., spoke to 500 people at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

"Veterans often thank me and my fellow service members for serving, but I must respectfully say 'No sir. No ma'am,'" Gervais said. "I along with all my fellow service members - we salute you - because we fully understand that it is your shoulders that we stand here today."

Gervais noted the importance of the location for her speech on Veterans Day 2017.

"I cannot think of a more appropriate place to celebrate Veterans Day than here at the Kansas City National World War I Museum and Memorial, particularly because today comes during the 100th anniversary of America's entry into the Great War," she said.

Gervais thanked the audience that included veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You answered the call of duty when America called. You answered with little fanfare or want of recognition, but you answered only for love of country and desire to serve," Gervais said. "It is through your actions and service that we as a country are strengthened and our freedoms are secured."

Americans continue to answer the call to duty with more than 240,000 service members deployed around the world, she said.

"Many have deployed numerous times, have spent way too many nights separated from their loved ones, missing the births of their children, their baby's first words and steps, birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries," Gervais said.

"Our American heroes have sacrificed greatly and we owe these veterans our eternal gratitude and support," she said. "And we will not fail them."