Congressman David Young meets with a Veteran at one of his annual Veterans Care Fairs.

On this Veterans Day, we need to thank each and every individual who donned the uniform and stepped up and responded to the call of duty by serving the United States and her people. It is because of their selflessness, bravery, and courage we have the privilege of living in this great country.

All across Iowa’s Third Congressional District, I have had the honor to meet with thousands of our country’s veterans. There are some 50,000 veterans living in the Third District alone from Bondurant to Hamburg and from Avoca to Milo. The veterans I have met served in every conflict since World War II to the most recent engagements all over the world.  Our Veterans humbly walk among us, not seeking recognition or acknowledgment for their service.

We must always recognize them, for their actions protect the liberties and freedoms we hold most dear. The United States of America stands as a beacon of freedom, democracy, and the rights of all people to determine their own path. Whenever anyone threatens those values, our military steps up to protect us and the tenets our country was founded upon.

It’s because of brave folks like Bill, born in Warren County, who used foxholes to avoid enemy fire and engaged enemy tanks in the Korean War that we continue to have our right to free speech.

It’s because of selfless folks like John from Des Moines who reenlisted after 9/11 and was deployed to Iraq that we are able to go about our lives without being in constant fear of a terrorist attack. John nearly gave his life multiple times – over the course of his time in Iraq, the vehicle he traveled in was hit with an explosive eight times. Each time he survived and fought on, for our country, and for us, our families, and our neighbors.

It’s because of steadfast heroes like Gregory, born in Polk County, who was injured defending a hill in Vietnam and continued to battle the enemy that we continue to have the right to choose our own destiny. When Gregory was hit with shrapnel from an enemy mortar, he crawled to a nearby foxhole, reloaded and supported his unit, helping to defend his fellow soldiers until reinforcements arrived nearly three hours later.

It’s because of fearless men like JJ, born and raised in Guthrie County and who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, that America remains a beacon of hope for the hopeless. The unit JJ was fighting in lost 6,000 of the 14,000 men who entered the battle.

Throughout the history of our great country – whenever our nation, our values, or our allies were threatened – brave women and men have answered the call. On this Veterans Day, and every day, seek out those who have served and say thank you. Thank the families of our fallen heroes. Honor their sacrifice and never forget those who selflessly put their lives on the line to protect our communities and loved ones.

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