November 10, 2009

Udall Statement in Honor of America’s Veterans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following remarks to honor our nation’s veterans and commemorate Veterans Day:

“Today, Americans gather to thank the men and women who have served this country in uniform. We honor those who risked their lives to keep us free, and we remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion in defense of this country and the ideals for which it stands.

“Last week’s tragedy at Fort Hood brings this service and sacrifice into even sharper focus. Our servicemen and women know the dangers that come with defending their country and our liberties abroad. Many have lost friends or family in wartime, or have been injured themselves. But none expect to come under fire while going about their duties here home, much less at the hands of a fellow soldier.

“Thirteen brave Americans lost their lives last week – and dozens more were injured. But as tragic and shocking as this attack was, there is one thing that didn’t surprise me. And that was how the Ft. Hood community, the military community and the American people pulled together at a time of devastating loss.

“The men and women who defend our freedoms are the heartbeat of our communities. We celebrate their victories. We mourn their losses. We love and support and sustain their families in their absence. And as we honor military veterans past and present, we are reminded once again of the heroism and sacrifice that makes our Armed Forces the best in the world.

“My thoughts and prayers are with these fine men and women and their families during this difficult time.

“In Congress, we’re working every day to ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they have earned and the support they deserve. It is our moral duty – one I am proud to shoulder for the men and women who sacrifice so much for our safety and our freedoms.

“During this session, we’re working to provide essential support services to family caregivers of severely disabled servicemembers and veterans. We’re working to increase funding for transitional housing for America’s homeless veterans. And we’ve passed legislation to improve the delivery of veterans health care by allowing the VA to plan for that care further in advance.

“These initiatives represent progress. But I recognize that none of this is enough. America's duty to our veterans cannot be discharged by providing material benefits, no matter how generous. It is the duty of a lifetime, something to attend to every day.

“Every morning, millions of Americans wake up with scars from battles won and lost.

“Every day we cherish the freedom that their sacrifice has purchased.

“And every night, we sleep knowing that our security is guaranteed by the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

“We enjoy these benefits every day, and every day we should recognize those who made them possible.

“Every day, we should thank the World War II veteran down the road who, in his youth, vanquished tyranny so that free peoples could live in peace.

“Every day, we should remember the Korean War veteran who defended freedom in a place he had never been for a people he had never met.

“Every day we should honor the Vietnam Veteran next door, who flew half way around the world to risk everything for his country.

“Every day we should applaud the Iraq veteran who dismissed his fears and did his duty.

“And every day we should take a moment to think of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who wake up far from their families, because they signed up to be soldiers, and to go where they are sent.

“Let us honor them with our words and with our deeds. Let us endeavor to live lives worthy of their sacrifice. And let us do all we can to make every day Veterans Day.”