Each year on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we set aside the day to pay our respects to the men and women who served our great country. On Veterans Day — November 11 — we thank our veterans for their courage, dedication and commitment to serving. While Congress officially established the day in 1938, Veterans Day goes back to the end of World War I when it was known as “Armistice Day.”

When I think of the American soldier, I recall the words that President Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg 160 years ago this month. Lincoln told the crowd gathered on the battlefield at Gettysburg that “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

While Lincoln was wrong about people forgetting his speech — the Gettysburg Address is still one of the most remembered in American history — he was right about the need to honor the soldiers who fought on that field and so many others in the generations since. The American soldier has stood in the trenches of France and the jungles of Vietnam, marched across the frozen Chosin in Korea and battled in the arid desert heat of Afghanistan and Iraq. Not because soldiers love war, but rather because they know someone must always be vigilant in defending freedom.

Regardless of the branch of our armed services that someone serves in, the individual must be prepared to put politics and opinions aside to defend freedom all Americans. They recognize that the United States Constitution is a sacred document signed by our founding fathers but fought for with the blood of patriots. This is what it means to serve in the military and sacrifice yourself for the greater good.

If you would like to reflect on our veterans, there is no easier way to do that than to look at how we honor them across our state. In county seats and towns across the Commonwealth, you will see monuments reminding us of their bravery. In communities such as Frankfort, Radcliff, Williamstown, Grayson, Hyden, and Hopkinsville you will find the graves of hundreds of our veterans, lined up as if they were standing in formation. Many other veterans live out their lives in nursing homes in Hazard, Hanson, Wilmore, and Radcliff.

Throughout the state, we have memorials in town squares that stand as a constant reminder of our military. At the main entrance to Fort Knox, you will find an M48 Main Battle Tank, the first generation of its kind. Those tanks were once operated during war and are now reminders that they were deployed in the name of peace throughout our world. A statue of Daniel Boone, who defended the colonies in the French and Indian War and later our frontier from the British in the American Revolution, stands at the Kentucky National Guard’s Boone Center in Frankfort.

These memorials and monuments are important, but we must serve the veterans of today in meaningful ways. Although, we can never do enough to recognize the sacrifices our veterans made and continue to make here and on battle fields around the world. However, I am pleased with action we as a legislature have taken to provide more opportunities for our veterans. These bills were the result of work done by the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, which was created specifically to address these issues.

  • HB 109: Allows custodial responsibility to be temporarily granted to a non-custodial parent during the deployment.
  • HB 196: Prohibits automobile insurance companies from implementing a penalty as causing a raise in rates because of a lapse in coverage due to deployment.
  • HB 277: The measure provides an exemption to the Kentucky operator’s license requirement for a member of the armed forces, their spouse, or dependent child. Under the provisions of this bill, Kentucky will recognize a valid driver’s license issued by the state of their permanent residence.
  • HB 398: A reorganization measure for the Kentucky commission on military affairs aimed at streamlining services for Kentucky veterans.

If you are a veteran, I would like to hear from you regarding your interest in our state and any issues that may be addressed during the 2022 legislative session. I can be reached at home anytime or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me by e-mail at Richard.Heath@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of interim joint committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.