Thank you to America’s finest — our veterans

General Dwight D. Eisenhower tells American paratroopers in England "full victory — nothing else" on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepare for the Battle of Normandy. (Library of Congress)

The Kansas Reflector welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation about how public policies affect the day-to-day lives of people throughout our state. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is chair of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

As the son of Wes Roberts, a World War II Marine veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, and a Marine veteran myself, I say with certainty and pride that there is no greater duty than one’s duty to country and to stand with those who have put country before self.

On this Veterans Day, it is of the utmost importance to recognize and thank veterans everywhere for their service and defense of our nation, from threats both overseas and here at home.

Before the pandemic, we were set to dedicate the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on May 8, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, an anniversary with worldwide significance. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we dedicated the memorial in September. And now, after decades of work, the memorial dedicated to President, Supreme Allied Commander, and Kansas’ favorite son, Dwight. D. Eisenhower, is attracting generations of visitors on the National Mall.

The memorial encourages all visitors to learn more about the critical role Ike played in not only shaping our nation and defining the United States of America on the world stage, but also leading our country through eight years of peace and prosperity. Ike recognized the promise of America and the reciprocal responsibility of its people to serve the nation that serves them. As he said in his first inaugural address, “It is the firm duty of each of our free citizens … to place the cause of his country before the comfort, the convenience of himself.”

It was Eisenhower’s decision to launch the D-Day invasion that helped turn the tide of the war in Europe and save Western democracy. And while the memorial pays tribute to his valiant leadership, it also pays tribute to the Greatest Generation. Without their bravery and sacrifice during World War II, the world would no doubt be a very different place.

From the earliest days of struggle for our republic, to today’s unrest around the world, the principles set forth by our founding fathers have continuously been defended by our brave men and women in uniform.

This day is the day when a grateful nation recognizes those who have given so much out of love for their country, their family and their fellow citizens. Across Kansas and the nation, the memory of our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms lives on.

Throughout my 40 years of service in both the House and Senate, I have said many times that the No. 1 priority of our federal government is to provide for the safety and security of Americans. It has been my absolute privilege to support and encourage those who protect us. It has also been an honor to serve as a Marine and to serve in Washington.

Our nation is forever indebted to the acts of bravery and sacrifice of the servicemen and women who repeatedly answer the call of duty and step forward to defend the freedoms we all hold dear. Each and every one of you have the thanks of a grateful nation.

Semper Fi.

Through its opinion section, the Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.