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Greetings from the fourth floor of your Missouri Capitol. As I look out of my window this morning, I can still see remnants of our first measurable snow fall and, with that, the cool brisk air that accompanies the harbinger of winter. From 70 degree temperatures one day to 22 degrees the next is what we have come to expect living in Missouri. This too will pass, but the memories of temperatures in the 90s seem far removed.

There has been a lot happening in the 60th District over the past couple of weeks with the most important thing being Veterans Day and all the celebrations that accompany this day of remembering and thanking those who have served. Operation Bugle Boy is always a highlight, and this year was no exception. Capt. Donna Rowe, a nurse who served in Vietnam in 1968-69, was the keynote speaker who delivered a heartfelt speech directed at those who served in Vietnam and were some of her patients earning the Purple Heart. During her time here in Mid-Missouri, Donna spoke in six different schools, sharing her powerful story of her service, her husband's and best friend Kathy's husband's service, and the sacrifices each of them made for their country.

She recalled the atmosphere our service men and women returned to after coming home to the United States. We were called "baby killers," "drug addicts" and "scum of the earth," only to mention a few. We were spit on, had blood thrown on our uniforms, and were not welcomed home as our predecessors were in World War I and II. However, the times have changed over the last 40 years, and now, we are recognizing those who served over there and the heroic acts that went unnoticed. I think one thing I appreciate the most about Operation Bugle Boy is the involvement of the youth from around our area. High school students from Helias Catholic, Blair Oaks and the Jefferson City School District served those in attendance, wrote letters remembering one of their loved ones who served and giving them a chance to say "thank you." A side benefit of those youth being there is hearing the stories of those who served and the sacrifices they made to protect the freedoms we enjoy living in this country. The saying "freedom isn't free" is more than just a catchy phrase, it is the truth, and they are learning it firsthand.

The second event I attended was retired Gen. Hank Stratman's event normally held at Freedom Corner but, because of inclement weather, was moved to the McClung Park pavilion. This year's speakers were retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Schulte and Helias Catholic Private 1st Class Curtis Rockers. Jim spoke to the past and present while Curtis spoke to the future. Young men like Curtis will keep the tradition of serving going, and I am proud of these young men and women who are standing up to protect our freedom.

The last event I attended was at the American Legion where we heard David Moore encourage those attending to say "thank you" to those who have served. Take time to shake their hand and thank them for their service. If you feel comfortable, ask them about their service and listen to their stories. Also as part of the program Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, Rep. Rudy Veit and myself presented resolutions to Claudia Goodin, who represented the American Legions Auxiliary, which is celebrating 100 years of service this year. I am proud to be a member of Post 5, and our ladies auxiliary is a vital part of the service it offers our community. Thank you for your service, ladies.

We can all be proud of the communities we live in here in middle America and how we pause during this time of the year to say thank you and remember those who served, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and those who never returned home or are still listed as MIA. The ceremonies held in our schools area truly heartwarming and genuine. At one I attended, a young lady broke down in tears while sharing the story of her grandpa and his service in Vietnam. Let us never forget and remember the words of famed American writer and war commentator Elmer Davis who correctly stated, "The Republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it. This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." Now, and always, let us honor our guardians of liberty for their diligence and sacrifice.

It was an honor to serve our country like my father, grandfather, great grandfather and five uncles. I would ask each of you, that when you see a veteran wearing a Vietnam veteran hat, go up to him, shake his hand and say "Welcome Home."

As always, it is an honor to serve as your state representative, and if you have any questions or concerns please reach out to my office.

State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 60th House District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.

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