Lest We Forget

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May 22, 2009 No Comments ›› admin

May 22, 2009

“Oh, I can’t make a difference,” the woman told me. “Why should I even try?”

Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish change. But a small group of people can make a difference.

I met Thuy (pronounced TWEE) Smith in Altoona at a rally. She introduced me to a number of people including several veterans. Thuy is the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran. I am the daughter of a Korean War Veteran.

I met Al Wright in Sparta at a legislative breakfast.  Al is a Korean War Veteran. He and Thuy did not know each other. They were from opposite ends of my very large Senate District.

But they both had the same idea: to honor those who served our country in wars that are oft forgotten and who have long awaited proper thanks and recognition.

The way to do this was to set aside a day to perpetually honor veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  With the assistance of Al and Thuy, I drafted Senate Bills 75 and 76 to designate July 27th as Korean War Armistice Day and March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Senate Bills 75 and 76 require the Governor to issue a proclamation for the observance of Korean War Armistice Day and Vietnam Veterans Day, asking the public to contemplate the sacrifices members of the U.S. armed forces made during these wars.  The bills honor our veterans without imposing a cost to taxpayers and obligate no days off for schools or employees.

Establishing these days of recognition is part of our state’s testament to the sacrifice of our fellow Wisconsinites who served.  It is a call for us all to pause and salute their devotion to our country and ensure their service will not be forgotten.

And many people worked to be sure they were not forgotten.

Representative Mark Radcliffe went to work and visited nearly every Assembly office – going door to door – asking for support. He garnered the support of 67Assembly members.

I joined Al and his fellow veterans from Sparta to testify before the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology, and Financial Institutions. Emotions ran high as veterans described how the bills would help bring healing and recognition.

This past week the Senate voted to act on these two bills. Following my speech on the Senate Floor, a Senator stood up and asked to be added as a co-sponsor. Then another made the same request, followed by another. Finally the Assistant Majority Leader, Senator Hanson said “unanimous consent to add all senators as co-sponsors.”

“Hearing no opposition, so ordered,” Senate President Risser responded.  Every Senator wanted to be a part of this important legislation.

The bills then unanimously passed the Senate and now await action in Assembly. Thuy, Al and all Korean and Vietnam veterans look forward to the day when these bills become law.

Thuy Smith sums it up well when she talked about what we were able to do.

“These bills empower a group of people who never had the homecoming they deserved. These veterans should be proud of their service to this country and by setting aside a day of honor we can show them how proud we are.”

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P.O. Box 1274
Eau Claire, WI 54702