My fellow Nebraskans,
As we continue to celebrate the Holiday Season and the coming New Year, it's fitting that we keep our Nebraska service men and women in our hearts and prayers, especially those who are currently deployed.
One of the most important reminders from the past 11 years since Sept. 11, 2001, is that as a nation and a state we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our military service members and their families for the role they continue to play in protecting our nation and upholding the principles that we, as Americans, hold most dear.
I would like all of us to remember the more than 50 Nebraska Army and Air National Guard men and women who are spending this holiday season deployed in locations around the globe, including Afghanistan, as well as the 12 members of the Nebraska National Guard's Afghan Agribusiness Development Team No. 4 who will soon be joining them when they mobilize for duty in early January.
As a veteran and as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nebraska National Guard, I know the sacrifices that our service members, their families, and their employers make to ensure that we continue to support our nation's continuing commitments around the globe. They come to us from many walks of life, yet they are united by an uncommon commitment to the principles of patriotism, selfless service and professionalism that have long been hallmarks of American military service.
These are not new commitments, but rather the continuation of a nearly 400-year tradition that has been the trademark of National Guard service since the founding of the first American militia unit by the Massachusetts Bay Colony on December 13, 1636.
It is this commitment to the welfare of neighbors, communities, state and nation that that has been the bedrock of our Nebraska National Guard since it was founded by Territorial Governor Thomas B. Cuming on December 23, 1854, and saw our Nebraska National Guardsmen through their honorable service in the American Civil War, the jungles of the Philippines, the trenches of World War I, the hedgerows of Normandy and the snowy forests of the Ardennes during World War II, the deserts of Iraq, and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
Simply put, we as a state and nation could not accomplish the tasks that we must without the services and sacrifices of these dedicated Nebraskans. Over the past decade, thousands of Nebraska National Guards personnel have deployed into harm's way to such troubled locations as Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Recent state emergencies including the historic flooding of 2011 and historic wildfires of 2012 have also required outstanding commitments by the men and women of our Nebraska National Guard.
This week, as we take comfort and joy in gathering with our friends and families to celebrate this holiday season, let us each in our own way take a moment to offer gratitude for these brave Nebraska men and women who continue to serve on the frontlines around the globe in support of our great state and nation.