GUEST OP-ED: Pay tribute this Veteran’s Day to those who fought for our freedom

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American men and women in uniform are stationed across theglobe, and on a daily basis put their lives in harm’s way for thefreedoms we enjoy at home. Every year on November 11, Veteran’s Daygives us the opportunity to thank those who risked their lives andto those who lost their lives.

Whether they stormed the beaches at Normandy, upheld democracyagainst communism in the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam or helpedto liberate the Middle East from the tyrannical reigns of theSaddam Hussein and the Taliban, our veterans have answered the calltime and time again.

This Friday, we stop to commemorate and recognize the dedication ofthose who, on a daily basis, have been and continue to be preparedto make the ultimate sacrifice.

In this part of Brooklyn, with Fort Hamilton in our backyard, weare constantly reminded and humbled by the fact that Americacurrently has over 100,000 men and women deployed in Iraq andAfghanistan, in addition to tens of thousands more stationedworldwide.

These soldiers put their lives on the line, and every day some ofthem give those lives so that here, at home in the United States,we are able to enjoy the freedoms that make America the countrythat we are so proud to call home.

As a country and as a community today, we pause with both nationaland local ceremonies to honor the heroism of American soldiers asthey stop at nothing to ensure our liberty and safety.

Paying homage to our heroes, whether at the Tomb of the UnknownSoldier at Arlington National Cemetery, with the New York CityVeterans Day Parade in Manhattan or at our local Veterans’Recognition Day, held earlier this week at Fort Hamilton, is animportant and poignant reminder of the commitment that our soldiershave to American freedom and the sacrifices they are willing tomake to provide it.

In order to honor these men and women better, the Assembly passed aresolution I supported that officially thanks our soldiers andcommemorates November 11 as Veterans Day in New York State.

But it is not enough to spend just one day honoring their efforts.In the Assembly, I will work to help veterans receive the respect,credit and benefits they deserve at home.

New York State proudly lends its support to a number of programsthat ease the transition back to civilian life for militaryfamilies. Some of the programs include: awarding scholarships forundergraduate and graduate studies at schools in New York State toqualifying veterans and their children; providing burial allowancesof up to $6,000 for soldiers killed on active duty; and creditpreferences, retention rights, and hiring exemptions for veteransin civil service jobs.

These programs are essential to continuing our support forAmerica’s veterans. But they alone do not come anywhere close torepaying our veterans for all that they have given us.

So this Veterans’ Day, I hope that you will join me in offering mymost sincere thanks to all of those who are currently enlisted inthe armed forces, to those who have served and come back, and thosewho gave their lives.

America is a great country because it is a free country, and weneed look no further than to our veterans for the reason why wehave that freedom. God bless our veterans and God blessAmerica.

Assemblymember Peter Abbate represents the 49th AssemblyDistrict, serving Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Boro Park and DykerHeights.

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