Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
For the past twelve years, I have had the honor of recognizing Idaho veterans and volunteers who assist Idaho veterans with the Spirit of Freedom: Idaho Veterans Service Award. One of the great personal benefits of giving these awards is that I get to learn the inspiring stories of many great Idahoans. I am not surprised that we have many dedicated and giving individuals living in Idaho, but I am continuously encouraged by their kind actions on behalf of others. This year, 21 Idahoans are recipients of the Spirit of Freedom Award.
This award is presented in two categories: veterans and volunteers who assist veterans. It provides an opportunity to recognize the outstanding service to our nation of area veterans and many Idahoans who dedicate considerable time to supporting those who have served our nation. Their acts strengthen our communities and encourage others through their examples.
Some honorees' military service spanned multiple wars. Many of the veterans honored through this award have spent decades serving our country and now give considerably of their time to befriending and lightening the load of their fellow veterans. Seeing this camaraderie that reaches beyond the battlefield and crosses generations is part of what makes honoring these individuals so rewarding. Other award recipients have devoted hundreds of hours or more to enriching the lives of veterans and their families.
Spirit of Freedom Awards are presented on Veterans Day. This year, World War II veteran Quentin Murdock of Pingree was honored early. After hearing his story of selfless service, it seemed that he had waited long enough for this award. As of this year, 207 Spirit of Freedom Awards will have been presented since the award's creation in 2002. The American Legion Middleton Post 39, the Boise Valley POW/MIA, the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Boise, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Lewiston, the Idaho State Veterans Home-Pocatello, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, the Marine Corps League, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Lewiston Post 10043 are among the organizations that submitted nominations for the award this year.
Some Spirit of Freedom Award recipients are inspired to do what they do because of a deep sense of service. Some are moved by the military service of family members. Some are motivated by wanting to find a way to give to those who have given so much to us. All are making a difference in many lives. Thank you to this year's Spirit of Freedom Award recipients for your service and to the many throughout Idaho who strive everyday to defend our freedoms and lift up those around them.
Biographies of the 2014 and past Spirit of Freedom Award recipients are posted on my website at https://www.crapo.senate.gov/issues/veterans/spirit_of_freedom.cfm.
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