Nov 08 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator John Boozman today recognized the service, sacrifice and bravery of our nation’s veterans in advance of Veterans Day, November 11.
The following is the speech as prepared for delivery:
Madam President, I would like to take a moment to honor and thank those who have earned the noble title of ‘‘veteran.’’
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marked the end of World War I. Since then, this date has been celebrated, first as Armistice Day and now as Veterans Day, but no matter what we call it, it serves the purpose of honoring our nation’s heroes - those who have served in the military, our veterans.
As the son of a World War II veteran who served as a waist gunner on B-17s, I grew up in a family with values rooted in military tradition. My father remained in the military until he retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant after 20 years of service. At an early age
my brother, sister and I were taught about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make. Growing up in this environment gave us an understanding of the unique challenges military families face—an understanding that guides my efforts today.
My mom would never let me slide on my responsibility as a public servant to keep our promise to those who served our nation in uniform. Up until her recent passing, one of the first questions she would ask when I saw her would inevitably be, ‘What have you done for veterans lately?’
I was always able to answer that question with a clean conscious while serving in the House and now in the Senate. Despite how divided we can be on other issues, Democrats and Republicans come together—more often than not—to pass policies that will enhance the quality of life for both our veterans and their families.
Today, in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, we are working to secure the benefits our veterans deserve, and improve existing benefits to meet the needs of our more than 23 million American veterans—including 257,000 who call Arkansas home.
The most important thing for us all to remember is the reason we are working to improve veterans’ benefits: the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. Through their selfless sacrifice, we are protected from our enemies. They make the United States a safer place to live. They have heard our nation’s call and met the challenge with their service. It is now up to us to ensure our veterans have access to all the opportunities this great nation has to offer.
Taking care of our veterans is the responsibility of every American. It is important that we all continue to serve our veterans and reflect on those who served in conflicts around the globe, as well as those who are serving today in support of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let us also reflect on the sacrifices of those who have given their last full measure of devotion. In September, I came to the Senate floor to honor the lives of five Arkansans killed in action this year.
Last week, we lost the sixth service member from Arkansas this year. Specialist Sarina N. Butcher followed in the footsteps of her grandfather and brother and joined the military in April of 2010. As a member of the Oklahoma National Guard, she served as an automated logistical specialist but her ultimate goal was to become a nurse. At the tender age of 19, this Crossett, Arkansas native and mother to a beautiful little girl was killed in an IED explosion in Afghanistan on November 1st. We are grateful for her service and sacrifice. We are forever indebted to her and every American who has worn the uniform and sacrificed their own safety and security for that of the American people.
Every day the men and women of our Armed Forces stand in defense of our nation and our cherished way of life. They do so regardless of the costs, fully aware that they may be called to pay the ultimate price for their country.
This week, communities across the country gather to express our undying gratitude for those who have worn our nation’s uniform. Let us always honor the service of those who have served and those on the frontlines today as we address the important challenges facing the nation.
To all of our veterans and their families, thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.