FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker honored the nation's veterans, past and present, and their family members during its Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 9 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Col. William A. Ryan III, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence deputy commander, hosted the event and used the words of President Calvin Coolidge to explain why the nation continues to remember the service and sacrifices of its veterans year after year.

"The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten," Ryan said. "Today, we honor those who served this country in its highest form, as a veteran."

He added that it is important note that Veterans Day is not just a day for veterans, but is a day for all Americans.

"I want to thank you who are not veterans for observing this event today with us in this special place. Our Army is the people's Army, your Army, and we must continually work to ensure we maintain a strong bond and trust with the citizens we serve," Ryan said. "It was, after all, President Abraham Lincoln who reminded us that we veterans and citizens serve the same cause. Thank you for being here and for your incredible support of those who currently serve, and to the veterans who have served and call the Wiregrass home."

He then referred to historian Stephen Ambrose's writing that "America's wars have been like rungs on a ladder by which it rose to greatness."

"No other country has triumphed for so long, so consistently or on such a vast scale through the force of arms. Our nation's veterans have held those arms not just over the last 100 years since World War I ended, but from our founding," Ryan added. "And since then, each generation of veterans has ensured the ladder of our nation continues to rise to new heights when the security of its citizens or its sovereignty have been threatened."

And that service often continues even after many veterans take off their uniform for the last time, he said.

"That noble calling and sense of duty does not go away," Ryan said. "It's seen by example of service in our communities every day as many veterans serve their fellow citizens in different ways. Right now, all around the country and in the surrounding communities to Fort Rucker, veterans serve as teachers, doctors, engineers, social workers, community leaders, police, first responders and even elected officials.

"They continue to serve our country by making positive impacts, building stronger futures and inspiring future generations," he added. "And the experiences and stories of service that they can share with younger generations can spur a sense of appreciation and an inspired call to service to the country as citizen Soldiers or in other important ways.

"In many respects, our veterans are the backbone of our very identity as a nation," Ryan continued. "But this backbone is only kept strong by the sacrifices and strength of our service members, and the veterans' families. Their unshakable commitment while often living with uncertainty, and the burdens they have bared throughout our history in supporting their veterans cannot be overstated and likely never fully appreciated. Like the veterans they support, they are a national treasure and they deserve our thanks and admiration. To all veterans and service members' family members here today, thank you -- this is your day, too."

He closed by saying that just as this nation has depended on its veterans in the past, it will continue to do so, "as we move into a challenging, but bright future which awaits us -- our veterans will lead the way."