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Skelton accepts VFW congressional award, says another ‘Great Generation’ coming from current wars
Skelton accepts VFW congressional award, says another ‘Great Generation’ coming from current wars

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 8, 2010) — Today, Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) honored past veterans and called for the continued support of America’s military personnel after being awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 2010 Congressional Award at the VFW’s Annual Meeting in Washington.

During the event, Congressman Skelton stated: “All of us have heroes in our lives. My boyhood heroes were those Missourians, veterans from the First and Second World Wars, who made such a positive contribution to every facet of society. The men and women serving today, our veterans of tomorrow, are heroes too; heroes to the boys and girls who are their neighbors, heroes to their parents, and heroes to me.

“I predict that this group of veterans will be another ‘Great Generation.’ Rising from the sands of the Middle East, these veterans, who have toiled and fought there to bring peace and civilization back to those two beleaguered countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, are truly America’s future.

“Let us treat these future veterans as they should be treated; as the heroes that they are; as the next ‘Great Generation’ that they will be.”

Congressman Skelton’s full remarks are included below.

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Remarks of Congressman Ike Skelton at the VFW Annual Meeting
March 8, 2010

America is what it is today because of veterans. Of course, those who fought in the Revolutionary War won our nation’s independence. But in our lives, today, we continue to see the direct impact made by veterans all around us.

I grew up around veterans of the First World War. My father served in the Navy during that conflict. He defied his mother and, misrepresenting his age, enlisted in the Navy, survived a deadly flu outbreak at Great Lakes Navy Training Station, and had the opportunity to serve aboard the USS Missouri. My father and so many other young men returned from that war to become the civic and political leaders of their day.

Tom Brokaw wrote a best-selling book entitled The Greatest Generation, the saga of those who fought the two-front Second World War. These veterans changed the complexion of our country in every walk of life. Their experiences in war, sometimes on the battlefield, instilled in them tremendous confidence and sense of duty and, like the generation of war veterans before them, returned to hometowns across America, large and small, to become leaders in their communities.

I have been privileged to have the opportunity to meet a good number of young service members in my office in Washington, traveling in Missouri, or, many times, when I am in the airport traveling between the two. Sadly, so many of these brave young Americans have been injured in their time of service. I make it a point to travel to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to visit the troops recovering at those facilities; and how fortunate we are to have those two first-class hospitals.

Many who are injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are medevaced to Landstuhl, Germany, before coming back home. This last Thanksgiving, I had the distinct honor of visiting the Army hospital at Landstuhl to share a meal with the wounded warriors there.

I would also like to say a few words about the tremendous job being performed by members of the National Guard. The Thanksgiving before last, in 2008, I traveled to Afghanistan and shared Thanksgiving Dinner with members of the Missouri National Guard. It made me proud to see the tremendous job they were doing overseas.

I have also made it a point to visit the National Guard units back in Missouri. No longer simply serving two weekends a month, two weeks a year, these citizen-soldiers are being deployed overseas on a regular basis, and my visits to their units are just my small way of saying thank you.

All of us have heroes in our lives. My boyhood heroes were those Missourians, veterans from the First and Second World Wars, who made such a positive contribution to every facet of society. The men and women serving today, our veterans of tomorrow, are heroes too; heroes to the boys and girls who are their neighbors, heroes to their parents, and heroes to me.

I predict that this group of veterans will be another Great Generation. Rising from the sands of the Middle East, these veterans, who have toiled and fought there to bring peace and civilization back to those two beleaguered countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, are truly America’s future.

So let us remember the importance of those who wear the uniform today, who are serving in our current conflicts, and will be the war veterans of tomorrow. Let us treat them as they should be treated: as the heroes that they are; as the next Great Generation that they will be. They have volunteered to serve their nation, and now we must do right by them in Congress, in our communities, and in our every day lives.

When historians write about this era 50 years from now, they will be writing about the efforts and accomplishments of this new Great Generation. I am so proud of them.

So thank you once again for this award. To be honored by veterans is a rare and valuable gift.

God Bless.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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