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This Veterans Day Took on a New Meaning

West Wing Receptionist and Iraq veteran Darienne Page takes a look back at her Veterans Day with the President.

Ed. Note: Learn more about Darienne's work here at the White House in a New York Times audio slideshow.

In my family, military service is tradition.  My grandfathers were infantry and airmen.  My mother is a Gulf War veteran; my father was a Noncommissioned Officer.  Among my siblings, three of us are Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.

We serve this country out of a profound sense of duty, with the knowledge that the freedom we enjoy today was secured for us on the backs of generations who were willing to go forward and fight for it.  We serve out of commitment to the values of dedication and sacrifice.  We serve because it is an honor.  Veterans Day is a day we call each other to give thanks for one another and for the time we have together; to pay tribute to those we have lost, and to say prayers for those serving in foreign lands.

This Veterans Day took on a new meaning.  The day prior, I had the honor of traveling to Texas with the President and First Lady, where we attended the memorial service for the soldiers and civilians that were killed at Ft. Hood.  I watched as they individually addressed and embraced the families that had lost their loved ones, the soldiers who were wounded, and the first responders who provided aid.  I witnessed the First Family grieving with our larger military family, and I was moved to tears. 

It reminded me, once again, why I joined Barack Obama's presidential campaign in the first place – a sense of duty.  I wanted more for my country, and saw that he did too.  I wanted more for our Veterans, and I see progress for them every day thanks to the tireless efforts of our Veterans and Wounded Warrior team.  I wanted more for my family and my future, and I'm watching that become a reality through improved veteran’s education benefits.  I see new laws and executive orders that help veterans find jobs and reliable health services.  I see our Commander-in-Chief fighting for these policies, for people like me, the members of my family, and our troops – and I am proud to have served him and our country as a civilian and as a soldier.  

Darienne Page is the West Wing Receptionist