Seventy years ago, Nov. 11, 1918, the guns fell silent in the "war to end all wars." The futility of that hope is seen in the fact that it is now known as World War I, indicating the first in a series. Celebrated originally as Armistice Day, Nov. 11 has become Veterans Day, a time to pay honor to those who served and those who died in subsequent wars.

Peace has been elusive, but America remains a free nation in large part because of those who answered the call of duty, who took up arms to defend home, country, or principle. Thousands still serve in outposts around the world, on guard in case of trouble.There are some 27 million Americans who have earned the title of "veteran" because of their service in the armed forces of the United States. They deserve a salute on this special day. An even more solemn tribute is due those who died in the service of their country.

Veterans will be getting more recognition in Washington, D.C., after this year. Legislation signed last month by President Reagan elevated the Veterans Administration to Cabinet rank.

Veterans Day offers an opportunity to pay special honor to Utahns who died in the Vietnam war. Ground was broken this summer on the state capitol grounds for a memorial to the 364 Vietnam war dead from Utah. It will include a heroic-sized statue and four polished black marble stones listing the names of those killed or missing in action.

The monument is being built with private funds and donations are still needed to complete the project. A contribution would be more meaningful than mere lip service on this Veterans Day.

It is fitting that America honor its veterans, living and dead, for all they mean to the nation. The debt society owes to them can never be adequately paid, but remembrance is one appropriate way to honor them.