Spinal Column: Veterans Day is a time to honor our true heroes

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

This past Monday, Nov. 11, Americans observed Veterans Day. This solemn holiday reminds us of why we are such a great nation. We have been blessed by millions of loyal men and women who are brave, resolute and determined to do their duty, whatever the cost.

Veterans Day has its roots in World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to remember a specific moment in time: Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m.—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. At that moment, the world rejoiced. After four years of bitter fighting, an armistice was signed to end World War I.

The 1926 resolution called for Americans to commemorate the day “with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

Our veterans are America’s true heroes. I want to thank them for working to strengthen and preserve peace in the world. Our values and our legacy of freedom, justice and liberty are safe today because brave men and women have been ready to put their lives on the line in our defense.

Yet the lesson our veterans have taught, repeated time and again on the pages of history, is that freedom never comes without a price and must not be taken for granted by any generation.

I can certainly speak for my colleagues in the Michigan Legislature when I say we strive to ensure that all veterans are treated with respect and dignity.

The state Senate recently approved legislation supporting our honorably discharged veterans by allowing them to use certain military training and experience toward professional licensure as an emergency medical technician, firefighter, boiler operator and stationary engineer, mechanical contractor, and residential builder.

The reforms recognize that military training is rigorous and worthy of counting toward comparable jobs in the civilian workforce.

We owe our freedoms to the men and women in uniform who put their nation before themselves. This is a common-sense way we can help them find work when they return home.

Another measure before the Legislature would allow schools to award a high school diploma to honorably discharged veterans who served in the Vietnam War instead of completing high school. And a bill on its way to be signed into law by the governor would provide disabled veterans and their spouses with some relief on the cost of owning their home.

Under this measure, veterans who have suffered total and permanent disability in service to our country would qualify for a full tax exemption for their homestead.

These are just a few of the ways the Legislature has worked to recognize Michigan veterans for their service. It is my sincere hope that every Veterans Day, all Americans will stop to consider how lucky we are, to remember the suffering and sacrifices endured by veterans, and to be grateful for all our veterans have done.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column.  Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.