As we approach Veterans Day, I am reminded once again how fortunate we are as Americans to have been born in a country that is a democracy. This fact was driven home for me during my recent visit to Kosovo. The people of Kosovo declared their independence just four and half years ago and as a new democracy are committed to the principles we cherish and that made our country great.
We live in a country where we can speak freely, vote freely, and pray freely, and we do so as we choose. We go to sleep at night feeling safe and secure that our rights and freedoms will be protected. Democracy is the only form of government we have ever known and too often we take it for granted.
The presence of the Iowa Army National Guard in Johnston is a constant reminder of the importance of a strong military in preserving a democracy. Whether it is defending our country on foreign soil or assisting Iowans in a natural disaster, it is comforting to know that we have some of the best trained soldiers in the world right here at Camp Dodge.
The members of Iowa Air National Guard are equally as skilled and essential to protecting us against dangers at home and abroad. Proposals out of Washington earlier this year to retire 21 F-16s and eliminate hundreds of positions at the Air Guard’s Des Moines base make no sense and are being strongly resisted by our governor and members of Congress.
This Veterans Day take time to reflect on the sacrifices made by our military members and their families. Give special thought to our servicemen and women who are currently deployed and fighting to keep the world safe from terrorists and others who would harm us. Say “thank you” to our veterans for their prior service to our country.
I can’t think of a better place to spend Veterans Day than at the Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge. It is by far the best military museum anywhere in the country and it is right here in our backyard. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Veterans Day, November 12. A new photographic exhibit honoring 40 notable Iowa Veterans will be on display. I’ll be there to welcome visitors and show them around. I hope to see you there.