Lankford Honors Oklahoma Heroes Ahead of Veterans Day
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on the Senate floor.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today paid heartfelt tribute on the Senate floor to some of Oklahoma’s esteemed veterans ahead of Veterans Day. Lankford highlighted the sacrifices of those who served and their families, those who support and care for our veterans, and the federal and state employees who work hard daily to ensure we keep our promises to our heroes. In August, Lankford joined his colleagues to introduce the Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020, a comprehensive bill that seeks to improve benefits for veterans in the areas of education, pensions, and survivor benefits among others.
Today, in Oklahoma people are going to work, people are going to school, people at their job, people in their yard, people on bikes, people going for a quiet run in the beautiful weather, because tomorrow’s Veterans Day. We enjoy the freedom and the peace of today because of what those veterans have done for a very long time.
Whatever community you’re in in Oklahoma, whether you’re in Oklahoma City or in Tulsa or in Lawton, whether you’re in Guymon or Idabel, Altus or Waukomis, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to find drawings. You’re going to find displays. You’re going to find military hardware. You’re going to find memorials and monuments to veterans that have served, because across our state, we remember extremely well the sacrifice that’s been made for the quietness of this day, the ability to be able to have an election, the ability to be able to send our kids to school, the ability to be able to work hard, to be able to fight off a virus, the ability to be able to invent and innovate because one 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.
Now, as a nation, we pause at Veterans Day and remember, but I think about veterans that don’t just pause once a year to be able to do it; it’s a part of who they are. They served our nation in the military, and they find ways to be able to continue to serve veterans and to be able to serve the people around them in their community every single day. They are people that work at the veterans centers in Oklahoma that are remarkable people, that 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 out across our state.
We have staff members today that are working in veterans’ facilities scattered all over the state that are taking care of veterans that 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 to say, ‘Our nation still cares about you.’
There are people today in Oklahoma that work on federal housing programs designed to be able to help people that are veterans that are homeless on the street to be able to get care, to be able to find a place to live, and to be able to get established. There are people in Oklahoma today that are working with federal programs to help veterans that have struggled with addiction, some that didn’t re-acclimate well. And they are helping them right now. Because our nation has not forgotten about them. And while we grieve with those who grieve—because Veterans Day also brings back the memory for some families that are Gold Star families of the one who has been lost—we remind them again we have not forgotten. And we say thank you to those folks that are serving our veterans every single day.
I also think about folks like Bob Ford, who lives in Okeene, Oklahoma. He’s working on Shawnee milling areas. And he does a remarkable job just providing for people in the community. But he has also kept alive the memory of fellow Vietnam veterans, and in so many ways, he helps not only the park and other places to be able to remember, but he also makes sure on Veterans Day that there are speakers in local schools and that someone’s retelling the message, and he is the one in the community that’s always making sure there is a patriotic display at some point. You see, he’s a Vietnam veteran himself that’s serving and working in the community but has also turned around and said, though his uniform is not on anymore, he wants to make sure the next generation knows what honorable service really looks like.
Folks like Terry Hill from Kellyville, Oklahoma, who enlisted in the Army in 2013, as an engineer, was commissioned as an officer in 2008. Became a Blackhawk arrow medical pilot and a research 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 a rapid application group in his home. It’s an additive manufacturing process. In fact, he’s the only additive manufacturing company that has a disabled veteran running it in the entire country, and every Friday, he has a #RAGFriday, and many of those that work in his company are also fellow veterans.
Every Friday, he reminds everyone to be able 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, to continue to be able to check on them. Some of the things that they have experienced and some of the challenges that they have faced leave lasting memories for them, that as they stood for our freedom and our country forgets those moments, they never do, because they lived them firsthand. And so his simple way to be able to do #RAGFridays every Friday, and to challenge folks to not forget veterans in your community is his way of being able to serve folks. Because again as a nation, we have not forgotten but we are exceptionally grateful for those that remind us as a nation not just to remember once a year, but to stay engaged with those veterans that have given so much and continue to give so much.
Honestly, I don’t know a veteran that’s not still serving. They find ways to be able to serve each other. They find ways to be able to serve their community because it is in their heart and it is deep within their soul that 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 be able 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 has made. For those Gold Star families, we cannot thank you enough because every day you remember and you need to hear from us: so do we.
The Israelites, when they 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 these stones for?’ You’re 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 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.