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Veterans Day

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 10, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANKFORD. Madam President, today in Oklahoma, people are going to work, people are going to school, people are on their job, people are in their yard, people are on bikes, people are going for a quiet run in beautiful weather because tomorrow is Veterans Day. We enjoy freedom and peace today because of what those veterans have done for a very long time.

Whatever community you are in in Oklahoma, whether you are in Oklahoma City or in Tulsa, or in Lawton, whether you are in Guymon, or Idabel, Altus, or Waukomis--it doesn't matter--you are going to find drawings; you are going to find displays; you are going to find military hardware; you are going to find memorials and monuments to veterans who have served because across our State we remember extremely well the sacrifice that has been made for the quietness of this day, the ability to have an election, the ability to send our kids to school, the ability to work hard, to fight off a virus, the ability to invent and innovate because 1 percent of our Nation has set aside their life to be able to guard the rest of the 99 percent of us. We in Oklahoma could not be more grateful for the service of those women and men over the years and currently.

As a nation, we pause on Veterans Day and remember, but I think about veterans who don't just pause once a year to do it. It is part of who they are. They served our Nation in the military, and they find ways to continue to serve veterans and to serve the people around them in their community every single day.

There are people who work at the veterans centers in Oklahoma who are remarkable people who help veterans literally every week to be able to work through and navigate the bureaucracy. Our office works with them to try to get solutions and answers if they have issues with the VA or they have issues with trying to get their medals or whatever it may be. But these volunteers are scattered all across our State.

We have staff members today who are working in veterans facilities scattered all over the State who are taking care of veterans who are basically in an assisted living-type environment or in a nursing long- term care environment. Those individuals get up every single day and love on veterans. They look them in the eye, when they are now at their weakest moment of their life since their infancy, and say: Our Nation still cares about you.

There are people today in Oklahoma who work on Federal housing programs designed to help veterans who are homeless on the street to get care, to find a place to live, and to get established. There are people in Oklahoma today who are working with Federal programs to help veterans who have struggled with addiction, some who didn't reacclimate well. They are helping them right now because our Nation has not forgotten about them.

While we grieve with those who grieve--because Veterans Day also brings back the memory, for some families who are Gold Star families, of the ones they have lost--we remind them again that we have not forgotten, and we say thank you to those folks who are serving our veterans every single day.

I also think about folks like Bob Ford, who lives in Okeene, OK. He is working at Shawnee Milling Company and does a remarkable job just providing for the people in the community, but he has also kept alive the memory of fellow Vietnam veterans. In so many ways, he helps not only the park and other places to remember, but he also makes sure on Veterans Day that there are speakers in local schools and that someone is retelling the message. He is the one in the community who is always making sure there is a patriotic display at some point. You see, he is a Vietnam veteran himself who is serving and working in the community but who has also turned around said, though his uniform is not on anymore, he wants to make sure the next generation knows what honorable service really looks like.

There are folks like Terry Hill from Kellyville, OK, who enlisted in the Army in 2013 as an engineer and was commissioned as an officer in 2008. He became a Black Hawk aeromedical research and maintenance test pilot. He flew 750 combat missions in Afghanistan over multiple deployments before he came down really, really hard one time and had a medical discharge.

You see, for Terry, Veterans Day is not a once-a-year thing. He founded Rapid Application Group in his home. It is an additive manufacturing company. In fact, his is the only additive manufacturing company that has a disabled veteran running it in the entire country. Every Friday, he has a hashtag ``RAG Friday.'' Many of those who work in his company are also fellow veterans. But every Friday, he reminds everyone to watch out for fellow veterans, to watch out for issues like possible suicide senses, to engage with those folks who have made great sacrifices to serve our Nation, and to continue to check on them because some of the things they have experienced and some of the challenges they have faced leave lasting memories for them. As they stood for our freedom and our country forgets those moments, they never do because they have lived them firsthand. So his simple way to do RAG Fridays every Friday and to challenge folks to not forget veterans in your community is his way of being able to serve folks.

Again, as a nation, we have not forgotten, but we are exceptionally grateful for those who remind us as a nation not just to remember once a year but to stay engaged with those veterans who have given so much and continue to give so much.

Honestly, I don't know a veteran who is not still serving. They find ways to serve each other. They find ways to serve their community because it is in their heart, and it is deep within their soul. They have served our Nation, and they will continue to serve our Nation. And while some need our help, I most often hear from veterans: How can I help?

So let me just say from my heart and from my State: Thank you, again, for serving the way that you serve. Allow us to say thank you to you face-to-face today and to tell you once again, we have not forgotten, and we are grateful for the sacrifice you and your family have made.

For those Gold Star families, we cannot thank you enough because every day you remember, and you need to hear from us that so do we.

When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan, they went back into that dry area and gathered stones. And they set those stones on the embankment for one specific purpose.

The purpose was simple. They said: When your children walk past these stones in the days ahead and they say ``What are those stones for?'' you are to remind them of the faithfulness of God. They were to be a permanent reminder.

Allow Veterans Day and the military memorials all over the State today to be a good teaching moment for our children so that when they say ``Why is that there?'' we remind them of the freedom that we have and the cost of that freedom and express our gratitude again to the veterans who have served us.