The Pryor Times

April 16, 2013

Recognizing Oklahoma service members

Sen. Sean Burrage

— This past week members of the House and Senate met in joint session for a very special ceremony—the annual 45th Infantry Division and National Guard Appreciation Day. Whether fighting in Europe and the Pacific in World War II, in battles in Korea or Vietnam, or in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, Oklahomans have always stepped up to serve their nation. From every town and city throughout the state, they’ve been on the front lines, willing to sacrifice everything to defend the freedoms that define our country.

It was humbling to watch a young Oklahoma veteran receive the Purple Heart after being injured in Iraq, and to applaud as another soldier was promoted to sergeant during the ceremony. I think all of us were filled with pride and respect for these courageous Oklahomans.

Many Oklahoman families have made far greater sacrifices than most of us can imagine. Oklahoma Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Myles Deering said that since Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Oklahoma National Guard members have lost their lives in service to our country.

Last year, the Legislature approved a bill creating the Oklahoma Gold Star Medal of Honor to be awarded to Oklahomans serving in the armed forces who voluntarily performed a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice during combat after Sep. 11, 2001, that resulted in their loss of life. Those receiving the Oklahoma Gold Star Medal of Honor must be nominated by a member of the Oklahoma Legislature and approved by the adjutant general.

 At this year’s appreciation day ceremony, the first Gold Star Medals were officially awarded to two of Oklahoma’s fallen heroes--Army Spc. Christopher D. Horton of Owasso, and Army 2nd Lt. Jared Ewy of Edmond. The men were members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Brigade Combat Team, and were killed in action in Afghanistan. The Gold Star Medals were presented to their widows, Jane Horton and Megan Ewy. It was a somber reminder of the sacrifices made, not only by the men and women who are deployed, but by their families as well.

 There is no way our state can ever adequately thank our veterans and their loved ones for their service—but we should do all that we can to promote public policy that helps these men and women once they return home, and to honor and thank them whenever we are given that opportunity, as we did this past week. It was a privilege to be there.

Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5555 or writing me with your concerns at: Senator Sean Burrage, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 522, State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. I always enjoy hearing from my constituents and consider it an honor to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate. May God bless each of you.