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Gratitude for Men and Women in Uniform

By Senator John Thune

August 12, 2011

Over the past several months, South Dakota has lost some of its finest citizens who were bravely serving in the line of duty. Prison Guard Ronald Johnson of Sioux Falls, Army Sergeant Lex Lewis of Rapid City, Police Officer J. Ryan McCandless of Rapid City, Police Officer Nick Armstrong of Rapid City, and Firefighter Trampus Haskvitz of Hot Springs all paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of protecting and serving their fellow citizens. These heroes are an inspiration for all South Dakotans and we will forever be indebted to their service and sacrifice.

These men are among the ranks of countless men and women across our state who have answered the call to duty and signed up to serve in harm's way. Prison guards, soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and other uniformed personnel have selflessly chosen careers that require time away from family and friends, long hours, and exposure to dangerous situations. They do not sign up for the glory, nor for the fame, but simply to ensure that their country is safe and free.

The families of our uniformed personnel also serve their country day-in and day-out. Our country asks much of these families, including enduring frequent moves, long periods of absence from their loved ones, and painstaking uncertainty while their loved ones may be in dangerous circumstances. Their quiet sacrifices often go unnoticed, yet they continue to steadfastly serve their country.

While South Dakotans carry the heavy burden of losing fellow citizens, our hearts are full of gratitude and humility as we reflect on these sacrifices. We will always remember the sacrifices of the uniformed men and women that went before us, and will continue to keep those currently serving in our thoughts and prayers. May God bless and protect these fine Americans and their families.