West-Central Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton said today is a day not only to honor military veterans, but to be thankful for those currently serving in the military.
Skelton spoke at the Lincoln University ROTC Blue Tiger Battalion’s Veterans Day Breakfast in Jefferson City.
“To the veterans of yesteryear, we offer our thanks and enduring gratitude. But today we should also honor those who currently serve in America’s military, the men and women who will be the veterans of tomorrow. We have a solemn duty to respect and show appreciation to our forces and their families for their sacrifices and willingness to serve.”
Skelton noted that less than 1% of American serve in the military or, as he puts it, have taken on the burdens imposed by military service. Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he has had the privilege to meet with many military personnel and says today’s personnel are under strain due to multiple, lengthy deployments.
“It is important that we remember Afghanistan was the genesis of the five attacks on Americans – the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 1999 attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks on September 11, 2001. Our effort in Afghanistan is to prevent the al Qaeda terrorists from having a safe haven from which to attack Americans and our allies again. With American resolve, and those fantastic young troops, we will prevail. And out of all of this effort, a new generation of great Americans is coming into being.”
Skelton said the military need to receive the recognition, encouragement and gratitude they have earned. He said those serving in the military today will become the leaders of tomorrow just as their World War II counter-parts did.
The shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas also weighed on Skelton’s mind.
“Several days ago, an unimaginable tragedy struck at Fort Hood, Texas, when an Army major, a psychiatrist by profession, killed and injured other military personnel and civilians in a processing center where soldiers were being screened for deployment to the Middle East. Our hearts were broken by this event, and our sympathy goes out to the victims and to the families affected. This episode reflects the strain under which many service members are being placed. There is an ongoing investigation into this incident, and it is not appropriate to speculate on the motivations and why this happened. But in the days ahead, I hope that we can learn how to prevent such an incident from happening in the future. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with our military families stationed at Fort Hood and around the world who are understandably touched by this shocking and heartbreaking event.”
Skelton said that as we commemorate Veterans Day, Americans must pay tribute not just to veterans, but to those now serving who will return to build a stronger America.