Weekly Column

Nov 07 2022

Our Heroes

At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, everything went silent. The deafening sounds of gunfire and artillery shells had come to a halt. World War I, which at the time was the deadliest conflict in human history, was finally over. 

While millions across the globe could finally breathe a sigh of relief, many American service members didn’t live to see the celebrations. 53,000 American troops died in combat during the Great War, and another 63,000 died due to influenza and other causes while in service. An additional 204,000 of our troops were wounded.

The massive conflict, and its impact on service members, weighed heavily on the nation.

To commemorate the end of the Great War, Congress passed a resolution in 1926 declaring that November 11 should be recognized as Armistice Day. 

By 1954, after another World War and the Korean War, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day to ensure all service members were included. 

Since then, Veterans Day has given the country a solemn opportunity to come together and honor the men and women who have served our country bravely and make up such a valued part of our communities. It is also an opportunity to thank veterans for their service and give back to the community. Whether you served for one day or 40 years, this is your day.

Throughout the week, patriotic Nebraskans across our state are leading efforts to honor, recognize, and care for our veterans.

In Holdrege, a new bronze sculpture called “Never Forgotten” will be dedicated in Veterans Memorial Park, and the new granite benches and veterans’ names added to the monument in the past year will also be dedicated. I had the opportunity to visit the memorial this summer, and it is a beautiful testament to one community’s enduring commitment to lifting up their veterans.  

Husker Football did their part to honor veterans at their annual Military Appreciation game this past Saturday. Fans were able to get a close look at the Nebraska National Guard’s military vehicles, help others through the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, and visit the recently dedicated Veterans' Tribute at the Pershing Military and Naval Science Building.

In Congress, I have continued to work with my colleagues to help our veterans. Earlier this year, for example, I supported a bill to help our brave servicemen and women who were exposed to toxic burn pits receive the medical care and benefits they need. The PACT Act was signed into law on August 10, 2022. 

I also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to cut red tape and help more veterans take advantage of their GI benefits at commercial driver’s license (CDL) schools. Service members give up so much for our country – the least we can do is ensure they have access to the economic opportunities they have earned after their service in the military. 

There are other ways we can honor our veterans and their service. The Maple Street Post Office in Benson, Nebraska, now bears the name of Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Jackson French. During World War II, French rescued 15 of his shipmates after swimming for hours through shark-infested waters in the South Pacific. I was proud to work with Congressman Don Bacon on that important legislation to finally give Petty Officer French some of the recognition he deserves. 

This upcoming Veterans Day, I want to thank each and every Nebraska veteran for their service to our great nation. We owe a debt of gratitude to these heroes who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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