A Veterans Day Message Of Gratitude
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By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
This Veterans Day, Texans will gather to show their respect and gratitude to the millions of Americans who have sacrificed on our behalf since the birth of this great nation. At ceremonies and parades across Texas, veterans from every generation will be honored. This includes members of the Greatest Generation -- heroes who stormed the beaches at Normandy and the South Pacific to liberate millions from tyranny. It also includes those who defended freedom in Korea and Vietnam, as well as our current generation of heroes who have fought terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world.
During my service in the U.S. Senate, I have had the privilege of meeting many of these heroes and their family members. This summer, I was humbled to meet an incredible group of veterans from the Dallas-Fort Worth region who visited Washington courtesy of Honor Flight DFW, a non-profit that seeks to bring veterans from North Texas on an all-expenses-paid trip to see their war memorials in our nation’s capital. Many of the veterans in this group were decorated heroes from World War II, like Bill Baker, who was assigned to the famous Eighth Air Force in England and flew 30 combat missions as lead navigator on a B-24 Liberator. Captain Baker was awarded the Air Medal five times and the Distinguished Flying Cross. As the son of a World War II B-17 pilot, there is nothing more rewarding for me than having the chance to spend a few hours visiting with these heroes as they see their memorials for the first time. Their personal experiences and biographies are the stories we see and read in war films and novels.
In San Antonio earlier this year, I also had the privilege of meeting a hero from our younger generation of veterans, United States Army Master Sergeant Todd Nelson. In 2007, Nelson was serving in Kabul, Afghanistan, when his convoy came under attack by a suicide bomber. Nelson endured horrific, life-threatening injuries, which resulted in him having more than 40 surgeries over the following four years. Despite these tremendous hardships, Nelson remained active in the daily activities of his unit, completed three years of higher education, honed his skills on the golf course, and began a public speaking career that he continues today to bring hope and inspiration to fellow veterans. Nelson also works for USAA and assists with recruiting wounded warriors. Nelson says he has been able to recover and help others due to his faith in God and the support of his wife, Sarah, and loved ones. He says, “I appreciate every day I am given and cherish every moment of life like never before.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans like Todd Nelson and Bill Baker. Veterans Day reminds each of us of the solemn obligation we have to all of our veterans and their family members. For some, the challenges they face arise only after they leave the battlefield. From delays in health care and other claims to challenges in finding jobs once they return from service, our veterans today need our support more than ever. In the Senate, I am committed to improving VA benefits by reducing the unacceptable claims backlog and providing incentives to employers across the state and country who hire veterans.
I am proud of Texans across the state who are committed to supporting these heroes and honoring the legacy of the many who have gone before them. May each of us do all we can to show our appreciation for our veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but on every day of the year.
Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.