Memorial Day is an opportunity to step back from the busyness of life and reflect on the heroes who helped build our country. It is a time to reflect on how we got where we are and the people who secured our liberties for us. We remember the battles fought over the years to protect our freedom, our republic, and our future. And we recognize the men and women who have served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice.
In the United States, every one of us has a connection to the armed forces. Whether it is through family members, friends, or our fellow Nebraskans, we know people who have taken the call of duty. Perhaps they are currently serving or maybe they served years ago. No matter how distant or near, we are all connected to those who have sacrificed to protect our country. Memorial Day is a time to reflect on their sacrifices. In Nebraska, we work to honor our heroes, not just this weekend, but also all year long. This year, there are several anniversaries to remind us of the actions our fellow Nebraskans have taken in the defense of our country.
July will mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” the men and women who served in Korea deserve to be remembered and honored. For that reason, I am working with the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs to host a special ceremony to honor Korean War Veterans with Ambassador for Peace medals. These medals have been provided by the Republic of Korea as a sign of gratitude for the honor and sacrifice these soldiers have made. Korean War Veterans who wish to receive a medal at this ceremony on July 27 can submit their information at http://veterans.nebraska.gov/korea by June 29.
Nov. 11 will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. NDVA is working with University of Nebraska-Lincoln to include a commemorative element at the Nebraska v. Illinois football game on Nov. 10, which is also the annual Veteran and Military Appreciation Game. What more fitting venue could there be for this remembrance than Memorial Stadium, named to honor the Nebraskans who lost their lives in World War I.
In addition to the activities we have planned for the future, our state has already been working to provide military servicemen and women, veterans, and their family members with the type of recognition and benefits they have so honorably earned. I recently hosted a ceremony on Vietnam War Veterans Day and presented more than 50 veterans and nearly a dozen of their family members with lapel pins from the Department of Defense. The support for these veterans was overwhelming, and the gratitude we received from them showed just how important this kind of recognition is.
Beyond recognition, our state works to ensure we are connecting our military members with all the benefits available to them. Last year, I signed LB340e, introduced by Senator John Murante of Gretna, to merge the Division of Veterans’ Homes with NDVA, creating a one-stop shop for veterans and their family members.
This year, I worked with the State Board of Education to approve revisions to Rule 21 to make it easier for teachers from military families moving to Nebraska to get a teaching permit here. Military spouses with a valid out-of-state teaching license can now receive a three-year teaching permit in Nebraska. Cutting red tape provides an incentive for military families to come to Nebraska and has given our schools the opportunity to employ high-quality teachers in a timely manner. These are the types of customer-focused initiatives my administration is working on to support our military families and veterans.
This week, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the Nebraskans who are no longer with us, who have given their lives to protect the liberties we enjoy here in “the land of the free and home of the brave.” Without their sacrifice, our country, and consequently the world, would be less free and less prosperous. I want to extend my personal, heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has served, is serving, or will serve this country as well as their families. Thank you for your commitment to the cause of freedom.
If you have any thoughts you would like to share about Memorial Day or how we can better serve our military families, I would like to hear them. Give my office a call at (402) 471-2244 or email me at [email protected]