The Ripon Forum

Volume 54, No. 5

Veterans Day 2020

In this edition

By on November 8, 2020

Since 1986, Gallup has been measuring the level of trust that people have in key institutions in the United States.
Each year since that time, the U.S. military has been the institution most trusted by the American people. It is trusted more than the media. It is trusted more than big business and organized labor. And it is trusted more than the three branches of our government, as well.

If there is a reason for that trust, it rests with the men and women who volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces. Each takes an oath to defend our freedom and preserve our system of government. And each knows that, in doing so, they may someday be called upon to risk their lives on our behalf.

Today, there are about 1.4 million men and women serving on active duty, and about 860,000 serving in the military reserves. There are also about 18 million Americans who once wore the uniform of the United States. The country pays tribute to these Americans each year on Veterans Day. And for the second year in a row, The Ripon Forum is publishing this special edition as a small way of paying tribute to them as well.

As with last year’s tribute, we reached out to a number of lawmakers in Congress who also served in the military and asked them a simple question – “What does Veterans Day mean to me?” Among other things, we asked them to share stories about their time in uniform and how they mark this important holiday each year. We also asked them to discuss any specific legislative initiatives they are working on that will not only be of assistance to America’s veterans, but be a fitting tribute to their service to America, as well.

We also contacted Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Pamela Powers – who spent nearly 30 years in the Air Force and retired as a Colonel in 2018 – and asked her this same question. We are honored to feature in this special edition of the Forum her response to this question in the form of an essay. We are also honored to feature essays from a bipartisan group of veteran lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, and U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill.

As noted, these lawmakers are both Republicans and Democrats — which is howit should be when talking about veterans issues. Indeed, one of the reasons that the military is viewed as being the most trusted institution in America is that it is also viewed as being above politics. That is a good thing — especially at a time when our country is so deeply divided along partisan lines. It is also something both parties, and all Americans, should seek to preserve.

By publishing this bipartisan Veterans Day Special Edition of The Ripon Forum, we are attempting to do just that, while at the same time honoring those brave men and women who put service above self.

Lou Zickar
Editor of The Ripon Forum

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