This is the time of year to reflect, appreciate, and honor those who have served in our Armed Forces. Memorial Day gives us a chance to remember those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice defending the freedoms we hold so dear and to thank those who risk everything in service to our country.
In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday out of respect for those who had died in all American wars throughout history. Today, we are reminded each day of the selfless acts of heroism soldiers displayed -- and the bravery of those who are serving around the world.
As co-chair of the Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus and through my meetings with Nebraskans in uniform, I understand the challenges facing not only those who served our country, but also our soldiers returning home to a difficult economic climate.
Congress created the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to entice employers to hire certain individuals experiencing difficulty finding employment. Considering they may be deployed, some active duty reservists and guardsmen face hesitant potential employers. I am a proud cosponsor of the Hire a Hero Act (H.R. 4859), which would extend the WOTC to active duty members of the National Guard and Reserve Components. Adding guardsmen and reservists to a list which already includes qualifying veterans is a fair and appropriate way to express our commitment to the brave men and women who have sacrificed to make our country and world a better, safer place.
Even as we celebrate those who have served in the past, we also should be encouraging those who will be the next generation of our country's military leadership. As high school students look to the future, many may feel the call to apply for nomination to one of our nation's prestigious military service academies. Annually, I field requests from across the state from those who wish to attend an academy and I am honored to nominate qualified individuals committed to serving our nation. Applicants meet personally with my Academy Advisory Committee and are judged on academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, career motivation, personal traits, letters of recommendation, essays, and personal interviews.
Students attending the U.S. Service Academies (Military, Naval, and Air Force) are on active duty from the day they enter their chosen Academy -- a commitment to their nation as well as their education.
Serving in any one of the military service academies is an honor and a tremendous accomplishment. This July, my office will be teaming up with the office of Senator Mike Johanns to present All Academy Day at the South campus of Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte.
The day will provide students, parents, and educators an opportunity to ask questions directly to representatives of each of the four service academies, and it will include representatives of the Army and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps programs as well. There also will be presentations outlining what each academy has to offer Nebraska's students.
Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. (Central) and the forum will run until 4:00 p.m. Interested high school students can RSVP by calling my Scottsbluff office at (308) 633-6333, visiting my website at http://adriansmith.house.gov, or sending an e-mail to Academy.Smith@mail.house.gov.
As we leave Memorial Day behind us and move into summer, let us remember the reason why we celebrate this holiday. Let us also honor the service and dedication of our troops throughout the world -- past, present and in the future. Their commitment to our nation is an inspiration to us all.