Friday, May 20, 2016

Mindful of Our Heroes


Rep. Adrian Smith
            In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of welcoming hundreds of Third District veterans participating in hero flights to Washington, D.C. We can never adequately repay the debt we owe them, but I have been honored to express a small token of our appreciation by taking them onto the House floor and showing them around the U.S. Capitol.  
Because of their service to this country, we have the opportunity to gather and thank our military heroes in the capital city of the free world.
As I greet these brave Nebraskans, I am mindful of those who fought beside them but never came home. Each year, as we observe Memorial Day, we remember and honor all the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom.
In the midst of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan delivered his 1982 Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery. As he said of the fallen:
“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. 
“Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply.  It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we, in a less final, less heroic way, be willing to give of ourselves.
“It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. War will not come again, other young men will not have to die, if we will speak honestly of the dangers that confront us and remain strong enough to meet those dangers.”
Now, in 2016, we again face a dangerous world with the rise of radical Islam and continued aggressions by countries such as Iran, Russia, and North Korea. We need an honest dialogue about ways to confront real threats to our nation.
On May 18, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act, also known as NDAA, for Fiscal Year 2017. The bill authorizes the funding our men and women in uniform need to fulfill their missions and keep our military equipped.
President Obama vetoed last year’s NDAA, despite its passage with significant bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Our country cannot afford for the President to again put our troops and our national security at risk, especially in light of his mounting foreign policy failures and passivity toward both our allies and those who wish to do us harm.
The House also passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. This legislation provides the funding to equip military personnel, house military families, and maintain our bases and health care facilities. It also funds veterans programs, including much-needed improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
As we continue to work on legislative solutions, my caseworkers are available to help any Third District veterans who need assistance with the VA. Please call my Grand Island office at 308-384-3900 to speak with my caseworkers about any issues you are facing with the agency.
Memorial Day is a dedicated time for us to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our great country. Mindful of their memory, our nation must keep its commitment to all who serve and have served by ensuring our military is fully prepared to confront the threats in our world today.

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