Although the 2016 presidential election has dominated the airwaves and headlines, it is not the only significant event in our nation’s immediate future. On Friday, Nov. 11, America will observe Veterans Day. Whether through a parade or solemn service, we will pay tribute to every man and woman, living or dead, who has served in the United States Armed Forces.
Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was first recognized by President Woodrow Wilson in order to commemorate the end of combat in World War I, known then as “the Great War.” It was declared a legal federal holiday in 1938. However, in the wake of World War II and the Korean War, veterans organizations urged Congress to change the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all American veterans, which Congress did in June 1954. So even though the name may have changed, the purpose has always remained the same: to honor the sacrifices and commitment of our military personnel.
The 21st Senate District is home to both the Higginsville Veterans Cemetery and the Warrensburg Veterans Home, which is aided by the West Central Missouri Veterans Assistance League — a group of area volunteers who help make our veterans’ lives more comfortable and rewarding. The Higginsville Veterans Cemetery is a beautiful 55-acre property with a small lake and walking path. We are also fortunate to have the support of many volunteer honor guards who make our veterans’ memorial services more meaningful.
In addition to the veterans home and cemetery, the presence of the 5,556-acre Whiteman Air Force Base, located just south of Knob Noster in Johnson County, means Veterans Day carries an especially significant weight for residents of the 21st District. Approximately 5,700 troops comprise Whiteman’s active-duty and reserve personnel, with nearly as many dependents and family members living and working within the community. Whiteman AFB is also home to the 509th Bomber Wing, which is the nation’s only B-2 stealth bomber unit.
With thousands of military servicemen and women, their families and one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the state of Missouri, the 21st Senate District is truly a military community. We have many to honor and much to be thankful for this Veterans Day, and every day of the year.
Our men and women in uniform willingly place themselves between our citizens and danger. It is because of their service that we can rest easy each night, knowing our lives and our loved ones are well-protected. They epitomize strength, courage, integrity and honor, and they show us what it means to be a proud American. On Friday, Nov. 11, please show your support for our veterans. Whether you donate to a veterans organization or simply stop and shake a veteran’s hand, let them know how much their service means to you.
As always, please feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 866-277-0882 (toll-free) or (573) 751-2272, or by fax at (573) 526-7381.
Senator David Pearce serves Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties in the 21st State Senatorial District.