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For decades, on November 11, our nation has paused to honor and remember the brave sacrifices and extraordinary service of our veterans. Men and women who have given life and limb to protect and defend the great United States of America. It’s a tradition steeped in dignity and respect. A reflection of memories; stories of tragedy and triumph. A day to truly celebrate the best among us.
Now, our military recruitment numbers are at their lowest level in decades. And while there is certainly a combination of factors leading to this decline, one way every American can help inspire and encourage a new generation of heroes is by giving our veterans the honor they are due. Thank them. Listen to their stories. Hear of their bravery. I guarantee you will be inspired.
Over 80 years ago a student at East High School in Des Moines, Iowa, enlisted in the Iowa National Guard. It was the beginning of a 26-year military career that would span three wars and include participation in some of the most consequential battles in our history. Lester Cook was a member of our nation’s Greatest Generation, and he was also a member of the original “Darby’s Rangers” of the 1st Ranger Battalion in World War II. Lester’s bravery and years of service earned him Silver Stars, Purple Hearts, and Presidential Unit Citations, among many other honors.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, NOV. 11, 1921, TOMB OF UNKNOWN SOLDIER DEDICATED AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Daegan Page was a young man from my home community who truly represented the greatness of the Midwest. While Daegan was a tough Marine, he was fun-loving with a giant heart. He loved to play hockey and spend time with his three dogs.
Daegan’s commitment to service began at a young age when he enrolled in the Boy Scouts. While he was just a child when terrorists attacked America on September 11, 2001, after graduating from high school, Daegan joined the U.S. Marine Corps and went on to serve in the Global War on Terrorism. He was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
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Tragically, on August 26, 2021, Daegan’s life was cut short. During the chaotic and haphazard withdrawal of U.S. forces, Cpl. Daegan Page – age 23 – was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan. For his ultimate sacrifice, Daegan was awarded a Purple Heart.
As a U.S. senator, with the help of veterans advocates and organizations across the country, I’ve prioritized honoring the heroic efforts of my fellow veterans, like Lester and Daegan. Through bipartisan legislation, I secured a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on our National Mall, and a Congressional Gold Medal for our World War II Army Rangers. Small in comparison to what we owe these war heroes, the memorial and medal will help commemorate brave acts of service and inspire a new generation of servicemembers.
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I know there is so much going on in our country and the world right now. We’re busy, and we’re tired. We’re preparing for the holidays. We all have our own struggles and worries. But I implore you, on this Veterans Day, take on the nature of a soldier – and put country over self. Duty above all else. Honor the nearly 18 million Americans who have bravely chosen to serve in our armed forces. Help inspire the next generation of military leaders by sharing the stories, legacies and victories of our heroes. May God bless my fellow veterans, and their families, on this sacred day.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SEN. JONI ERNST