WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in honor of our nation's Veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day today.
"From its beginning as Armistice Day in 1919 to eventually becoming Veterans Day in 1954, this day has been a day of reflection, a day filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who have served our country, and a day of remembrance of their sacrifices," Senator Inhofe said. "Thanks to the support and dedication of organizations like the VFW and its 2.2 million members, Americans continue to honor those who have served.
"There are over 37,000 military families living in Oklahoma today and over 300,000 veterans - they are our neighbors and friends, attend our churches, contribute to our communities, and are a treasure to our state and this nation. Since September 11, 2001, over 26,000 troops from Oklahoma have deployed in support of contingency operations, fighting terrorism and extremism worldwide - over 3,000 are deployed today.
"In September, we lost four Oklahomans - Sergeant Daniel Eshbaugh of Norman, Chief Warrant Officer Brady Rudolf of Oklahoma City, and Corporal Michael Thompson of Harrah were killed on the 17th when their helicopter crashed in southern Iraq; and Staff Sergeant Brandon Farley of Haworth died on the 18th of wounds he received while on patrol in Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. To their families, friends and fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms, we pray that you will feel God's peace and comfort and know how much we appreciate the price that they paid for all of us. We owe our lives and our freedom to these men and women, as well as those who have served before them and those that continue to serve today.
"After the Great War, Rev. Michael Gallagher declared, America ‘must not allow the aims with which we entered the struggle to fall short of fulfillment. Those aims were to extend to all the world the measure of freedom that we enjoy -- to give all peoples the right of self-determination in government; to allow no nation, however great, to enslave a race, however weak.' It is impossible to fully understand the sacrifice our troops and their families make on a daily basis as they fight to defend America's freedom. They are volunteers from every corner of our great nation and our great state. Just as they have selflessly done for us, we must be steadfast in our commitment to improving the quality of care and services to America's veterans and the families that support them. I look forward to the coming legislative cycle as we work to ensure that we remain true to our Nation's obligation to these brave men and women.
"We have watched you while you trained and when you said goodbye to your families as you deployed. We have seen you in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting an enemy who does not value life and is afraid of liberty and the freedoms it guarantees. To you, the veterans that have made our nation the strong and proud country it is now, I promise to always fight to ensure that your sacrifices are forever remembered and that your legacy is secured by the best equipped and trained force in the world. To the families that support our warriors, I promise that I will do everything in my power to ensure that you are cared for and supported.
"I know I speak for all Oklahomans when I say ‘thank you' and ‘God bless you' to our troops, veterans, and the friends and families of all those who have a loved one serving in the military and fighting for our liberty."