For most of us, the Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor attacks of 1941 are just a date that we studied in history class growing up.
At the beginning of 2013, it was estimated only a little more than 20,000 World War II veterans are still living in Minnesota, and only a few hundred in our area. For them, this day meant a shift in peacetime to wartime for the United States and a new wave of sacrifices for all Americans.
As your state representative, I want to thank those that served in this monumental conflict and honor the thousands who served and are no longer with us. Their families and friends continue to remember them in various ways, but all of us can do our part to memorialize the freedoms they gave us. These might include: putting your hand over your heart during the national anthem or when Old Glory passes by during a parade or celebration; visiting a relative who has served in the armed forces and listening to their stories; comforting the loved ones these heroes left behind; or ensuring American history is never lost from our core educational curriculum.
I salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who fought for something greater than self. Against advancing enemies and destructive evil, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory. Like many in my own family, they are part of the Greatest Generation who made it through turbulent times and stepped up to take on enemies half a world away. They brought a nation together, invented new industries here at home and spurred historic economic growth. Many came home to their families, but many did not.
All of us owe these men and women a profound debt of gratitude for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today. In St. Paul, I have supported legislation to strengthen our military veterans’ safety net and improve how our state tax laws treat veterans after they have served. We have a long way to go to give these heroes the benefits they deserve.
Let us all honor the legacy of our World War II vets by remembering them with dignity and caring for those still with us. If you have a veterans issue I may be able to assist you with at the State Capitol or know of someone who needs help, please contact me at 651-296-4346, 800-341-5897 or firstname.lastname@example.org.