Senator John Thune
Among my favorite opportunities as U.S. Senator, is the privilege to welcome honor flights from South Dakota to Washington, D.C., to visit the war memorials on the national mall. I know first-hand the sacrifice made by our nation’s veterans because my own father, Harold, is a decorated Navy pilot who served during World War II. Like my dad, many of these veterans have had limited opportunities to visit these important monuments—making the trip to D.C. an important and emotional experience. When I escort the veterans around the memorials, I am always humbled by their quiet reverence for their comrades lost in battle and reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our countrymen.
Last month, in spite of an ongoing budget battle in Washington that closed the national war memorials, our country watched as WWII veterans from around the nation pushed past the barricades at the memorials to pay tribute to a piece of their own history. Despite attempts by the administration to make the shutdown as painful as possible by closing the memorials, these war heroes were determined to visit the monuments built in their honor. Though America faces tight budgetary constraints, our country has a responsibility to show our gratitude and honor the veterans who served our nation with distinction. Our veterans should never be marginalized by the political discourse of the day.
As our country celebrates Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the thousands of men and women from every war, in every branch of the military, who served this country with pride and dignity protecting our democracy at home and abroad. We owe these brave heroes a tremendous debt. The South Dakotans who have courageously answered the call to serve and defend our freedoms are heroes to all Americans, but they have more importantly played an instrumental role in shaping who we are as South Dakotans. Their selflessness is reflected in the values that have come to define our great state.As we spend time with family and friends in the upcoming holiday season, we should take a moment to reflect upon those who have sacrificed on our behalf and renew our dedication to their care. I encourage all South Dakotans to honor the sacrifice of our veterans and keep the brave members of our military and their families in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to serve on our behalf.