Guest Commentary: Honoring defenders of liberty

By Senator John Thune

Battles fought in wars around the world, both past and present, have been depicted for many Americans through the lens of a camera. Behind the triumphs and the sadness of the photographs, are the men and women who have so valiantly honored the call to duty in defense of freedom. These men and women, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, have protected our nation from foreign and domestic threats, and fought in the name of liberty all over the world.

This September, I had the great opportunity to help welcome home the 842nd Engineer Company of the South Dakota National Guard. The 160 men and women of the Spearfish, Belle Fourche, and Sturgis-based unit represent some of the best that both South Dakota and our nation have to offer. These servicemen and women, like so many before them, honored the call to duty and selflessly put the welfare of our nation before their own personal needs.

 This Veterans Day we pause to thank and pay tribute to the veterans and active members of the military who have risked life and limb protecting our freedoms. South Dakota veterans, young and old, connect us to the past and present struggles for freedom and peace. Their honor, duty, and patriotism make us proud to call them family, friends, and neighbors, and we honor the memory of those who have fallen, keeping all who serve in our prayers.

 While we honor our veterans sacrifice, we are also aware of the continued struggles for many of the men and women in the military who have returned home from tours of duty. As the son of a World War II veteran, I believe we have an important responsibility to care for our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. I am a strong supporter of programs that benefit our veterans and believe more can be done in terms of enacting pro-growth policies to address the needs that veterans have during this exceptionally difficult period of slow economic growth. I will continue to work across the aisle to come up with viable solutions to stimulate growth, boost job creation in the private sector, and assist those who have given so much to their country.

I invite all South Dakotans to join me in honoring the sacrifice of our veterans and to keep the brave members of our military and their families in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to serve on our behalf.

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