Senator John ThuneSouth Dakotans who meet with me in Washington frequently ask me what I recommend they see and do while they are in town. The city is rich in history and I always have plenty of suggestions. Part of Washington's heritage comes from the monuments that the nation has erected to honor our heroes. Whether in tribute to the soldiers of World War II or Vietnam, or President Lincoln's commitment to the Union, our nation's memorials commemorate the sacrifices made by heroes in the name of freedom.
Clearly though, there are heroes who have given more than was asked of them who are not yet recognized formally in our nation's capital. America's disabled veterans have made sacrifices that deserve to be honored alongside Lincoln, Jefferson, and others. I am proud to say that Congress and the President are doing the right thing in bringing long overdue recognition to our disabled veterans.
Recently, the President signed companion legislation to a bill I introduced in the Senate to extend the authorization to construct a National Disabled Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Congress originally authorized the project in 2000, but the mandate in that law expired. My legislation extended the authorization of the memorial until October of 2015.
The National Disabled Veterans Memorial will be constructed using funds raised through private donations; it will not take away funding from veterans benefit programs. It should be noted that this initiative has broad bi-partisan support.
Our nation's disabled veterans have paid a great price to defend our freedom, and our commitment to them extends far beyond building a memorial in Washington. That is why I have introduced the Veterans' Disability Compensation Automatic COLA Act, which would ensure that veterans do not have to rely upon an act of Congress each year to receive the annual disability cost of living increase they deserve. This is a common sense benefit to those who have served our nation so admirably.
The inscription inside the Lincoln Memorial says that the 16th President's memory will be "enshrined forever." America's veterans who have been disabled in service to our nation have earned the same honor in our hearts and the monuments of the nation.
As we observe Veterans' Day this year, I encourage everyone to take the time to think of the debt that we all owe our veterans.