Senator John ThuneThomas Jefferson once said that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Throughout our history, we have been vigilant as a nation thanks to the courage and sacrifice of generations of South Dakotans who have answered our country's call to duty and defended our freedoms.
Many South Dakota communities have constructed memorials that honor our veterans who have fought for our freedom. These memorials remind us of the countless sacrifices these men and women have made to preserve our liberties. This summer, I was fortunate to attend the dedication of such memorials in Miller, Stratford, and Watertown.
South Dakota towns have a long history of military service. For example, Stratford, although a small town by most standards, has made a large contribution to defending our nation. Stratford residents saw 90 of their fellow citizens serve the nation in World War I and another 59 answered their nation’s call in World War II. Stratford is a good example of the many South Dakota towns that have sent their best to fight for our liberties.
The recent dedication of a memorial in Watertown also honored our veterans. The memorial is dedicated to veterans in any branch of the military who have served 90 consecutive days and were honorably discharged. On the date of the dedication there were 1,762 names on the granite wall and more are being added. Hundreds of South Dakotans turned out to show their appreciation to the veterans being honored. Turnout was also strong in Miller, where residents unveiled a new monument to their fallen heroes in July.
In Washington D.C., the Vietnam , Korean, and WWII memorials honor servicemen and women who have served our nation and even sacrificed their lives for our freedom. These memorials serve as a reminder to all Americans that freedom comes at a very high price, and that we must pause and acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who believed in liberty enough to give their lives.
On September 15th and 16th, South Dakota will honor its veterans of the Vietnam War by dedicating a memorial fitting to their sacrifice. The celebration will be held at the capitol grounds in Pierre, and will include concerts, fireworks, a parade, and other activities throughout the weekend. There will also be a ceremony to acknowledge and thank these veterans for their courage and dedication.
This memorial is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation to the thousands of veterans and their families who will be in attendance and to honor the more than 200 South Dakotans who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. I encourage every South Dakotan to attend this event and let these servicemen and women know how much we truly appreciate their dedication and service to our country.