The Real Heroes
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Politicians have a tendency to try to take credit for things, especially in an election year. They talk about how many jobs they’ve created, how they’ve kept our cities safe and how they’ve assisted the less fortunate. Our veterans, on the other hand, don’t seek the spotlight. They don’t expect recognition – even though they are the ones who really deserve the credit for our way of life.
That’s why we celebrate Veterans Day. To give credit to those who seek it least and yet deserve it most. It’s also an opportunity to remember those who fought in our earliest conflicts.
Next year will mark the centennial of the United States’ official involvement in World War I. This “war to end all wars” was a global affair which lasted from 1914 to 1918, but the United States did not officially enter until 1917. In 1915 and 1916, while the U.S. was still contemplating its level of engagement, groups of American men made the decision to enlist with foreign armies to fight against the Central Powers.
On their own accord, they volunteered to fight abroad, joining the British Army, French Foreign Legion and other Allied services. These men were citizen soldiers. They were farmers, machinists, dock workers and blacksmiths who left their day jobs to fight for freedom. They joined the struggle before it was even asked of them.
Now, as much as any time in history, we depend on our citizen soldiers, the men and women of our National Guard, to step up and defend our country. We count on them to defend our freedom abroad, and then to come back home safely to pick up where they left off with their families and their jobs.
This Veterans Day, 165 of South Dakota’s citizen soldiers are deploying to Kuwait. Volunteers all, the men and women of the 153rd Engineer Battalion and Forward Support Company are leaving their jobs and their loved ones to serve their nation abroad. They will be providing command, logistical, mechanical and transportation support to U.S. forces in the area. For more than one-third of the group, this is their second or third deployment.
Elected officials do the important work of fine tuning our laws and guiding public policy. Still, we should never forget who the real heroes are. Though they don’t usually make the front page news, our men and women in uniform are the ones to thank for our way of life. Without them, there would be no freedom.
Take a moment this week to pray for the men and women of the153rd as they head to Kuwait and for all of our soldiers who are deployed. Pray also for the families who are serving their country by bearing the burden of a loved one’s absence. And this Veterans Day, give credit where credit is due by thanking someone who has served to keep us free.