Like most Nebraskans, I'm thrilled to see the respect and admiration we give veterans and members of the military these days.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. It's a time for families to get together and have fun but it's really a significant and somber occasion for Americans to honor those who have died for our country and judging by the big crowds at Memorial Day observances people are not forgetting the significance of this serious holiday.
In giving their lives for our country, our nation has grown stronger as their sacrifice has helped spread the promise of equality and liberty throughout the world. It's not just those who made the ultimate sacrifice who are being honored these days. It's all veterans and their families.
This year, a few days before Memorial Day, there was a good sized crowd at the Veterans Administration in Omaha to mark the opening of a new homeless veterans resource center.
Homeless veterans are often overlooked and it's too bad because they served on our behalf.
The number of homeless veterans is disproportionate to the general population. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, only 8 percent of the population are veterans yet 20 percent of the homeless population are veterans.
Another group of veterans who haven't always been honored the way they should are those who served in Vietnam. That's why I've joined with a number of colleagues in sending a letter urging the president to establish a "National Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day."
It would be observed each March 30th, the date the U.S. withdrew all combat troops from Vietnam in 1973.
A presidential proclamation would help ensure that all Americans take time to pay tribute to this special group of veterans who, in many cases, were not properly honored when they came home from that tough war.
I'm also cosponsoring a resolution to honor the service of all who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have gone above and beyond in the war on terror. During a visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan over the 4th of July break I plan to personally thank as many of the 1,100 Nebraska National Guard members currently in Afghanistan as possible.
I'm also looking forward to the end of Memorial Day week when the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which I chair, is convened in Nebraska.
The fact that I'm holding this official hearing outside of Washington, DC, here in the nation's heartland, is significant because it reinforces the role we play at Offutt Air Force Base as host to STRATCOM which heads up our nuclear forces.
It's an impressive time for the military and veterans as our country's respect for those who've served continues to grow and Nebraskans should all be very proud of that fact.