Weekly Columns

While it may seem like the members of the U.S. Senate—much like America itself—are strongly divided on issues of national policy, I can say without a doubt that we are all united in support of our troops and their efforts to protect and defend our nation and its ideals.

The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform selflessly serve. They are fully aware of the risks they face. Despite that, they bravely put themselves in harm’s way to defend our country, ideals and allies around the world. 

They didn’t choose this life to seek recognition, awards or honors. Like those who wore the uniform before them, they chose the path of a higher calling, desiring to use their talents for the greater good. The men and women who serve in our military embody what it means to be a giver.  

I know my fellow Arkansans share my gratitude and appreciation for all of our military personnel and their families who sacrifice at home while their loved ones are abroad. 

Our state has a storied military heritage and a long, proud history of supporting our nation’s defense. Troops stationed in the state served our country honorably even before it was admitted to the Union. 

Today, Arkansans stationed around the globe and our personnel at the Little Rock Air Force Base, Camp Robinson, Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Pine Bluff Arsenal and Fort Chaffee continue to make the Natural State proud. 

We highlight their service during the month of May—which includes six military-related national observance days—as a way to express our gratitude. That gratitude endures in perpetuity. 

We simply cannot thank our service members enough for the tremendous sacrifices they make to ensure that we can continue to live in the greatest, free country the world has ever known. 

As the son of an Air Force Master Sergeant, I learned at a young age about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make. I also learned very early on, that military families face unique challenges. It truly is a family affair. 

My father joined the National Guard while he was in high school. While in school his unit was shipped out to prepare for World War II. He remained in the Air Force long after the war was over, serving over twenty years.  

The example set by my father’s military career—and the lessons we learned growing up in a military family—helped my siblings and me prepare for a productive, service-centered life. The experience taught us one of the most valuable lessons I continue to carry with me today—through their service to our country, the men and women of our military are part of something much bigger than themselves. 

My father was not only my hero, but as a World War II veteran, he and his fellow service members in my hometown of Fort Smith were embraced in the same manner by the community as a whole. The respect and admiration our community displayed for military members wasn’t faked or forced. It was genuine. And it remains just as strong today in communities across our great nation. 

While those displays will be more publicly visible during National Military Appreciation Month, the feelings of respect, admiration and gratitude will carry on long after the end of this month. Our nation is eternally grateful for the sacrifice of every service member working to keep America safe, strong and free.