RADIO ADDRESS: Our veterans have stepped up in our nation’s time of need, the least we can do is step up for them in theirs.
Our free nation — of the people, by the people and for the people — depends upon a free people willing to stand up and defend the values that we hold dear — our beloved Constitution and Bill of Rights that make us a beacon of liberty across the world. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who fight to defend our freedoms, and we must never forget their sacrifice.
Hello, this is Senator Shenna Bellows of Manchester. Thank you for listening. I hope you will join me in honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action who so valiantly served our country and never came home as part of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Perhaps you know someone who wears a silver POW bracelet. I met Pete when The Wall That Heals came to Gardiner. He bought a silver POW bracelet when he was in high school and placed it on his wrist to honor a soldier missing in action in Vietnam. That soldier never came home, and Pete never took off the bracelet. He wears it to this day. That is remembrance.
An estimated 82,000 Americans remain missing since World War II, including more than 450 Mainers. This weekend, I am joining with the American Legion Smith-Wiley Post 4 in a ceremony to keep the memories of those missing brave men and women alive. Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice is just one of the good works of the American Legion who will celebrate their centennial in the coming year.
The American Legion honors those who were lost, supports those who come home and keeps the spirit of patriotism alive in our communities and schools. I was proud to sponsor a bill to erect a permanent plaque at the State Capitol to celebrate the American Legion and their accomplishments on their centennial.
I value the American Legion and what they do for veterans and veterans’ families. My grandfather served in World War II, my uncle served in Vietnam and my brother-in-law has served multiple tours of duty overseas since 9/11. I have seen what happens when our veterans return home. Some are able to transition seamlessly back into their families, work and the community. For others, the transition back into civilian life is a struggle. It’s why I think it’s important to speak out and show up for our veterans when it counts.
Earlier today, I attended the dedication ceremony for the “Cabin in the Woods” housing development project, at Togus VA Medical Center in Chelsea — our country’s first and oldest veterans’ facility. This housing development will move 21 veterans off the street into forever homes on Togus grounds, within walking distance to critical physical and mental health services. This innovative new program is designed to help our veterans who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet, into the workforce and back into our communities. Our veterans have stepped up in our nation’s time of need, the least we can do is step up for them in theirs.
At the dedication ceremony, there was a WWII veteran, Iona. She is in hospice at Togus, and when she learned about Cabin in the Woods, she was determined to help. She raised over $2,000 for the Cabin in the Woods. That is service.
Thank you for your service, Iona. Thank you for your remembrance, Pete. Thank you to all the brave men and women who serve and have served in our nation’s armed forces.
Today, we honor the heroes within our families and communities who go unrecognized. Let us honor the men and women who never came home. Let us not forget their service. Let us not forget their stories. Let us not forget their names. This day and every day let us remember.
This is Senator Shenna Bellows. Thanks again for tuning in.