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Honoring Idaho's Spirit Of Freedom

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Veterans and their families infuse our communities with a deep understanding of the truest sense of service.  Many of these veterans continue to serve their fellow veterans and others long after their military careers end.  Their shared insight of the personal price of American freedoms provides a special connection to the veterans they assist.  For the past thirteen years, I have had the honor of recognizing some of this immense service with the Spirit of Freedom:  Idaho Veterans Service Award.  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 better our communities and encourage others through their examples.  Ensuring that these individuals understand how valued they are and the importance of their service to others is part of the purpose of presenting the awards. 

Some of those honored have participated in pivotal events in our nation's history, others help honor and uphold the selfless service of our nation's veterans and many bring joy to veterans and their families.  For example, one of this year's Spirit of Freedom Award recipients was wounded when he helped secure the beach at Normandy in World War II.  A Vietnam Veteran is being honored for his distinguished military service and continued efforts to memorialize the service of veterans and their loved ones.  Another award recipient devotes hours nearly every day to assisting fellow veterans and leading other community efforts.  Another talented awardee provides exceptional musical performances for veterans.  All of the awardees are leaders-serving our nation and communities and bettering the lives of others.

Spirit of Freedom Awards are presented on Veterans Day.  The Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 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 Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Vietnam Veterans of America Idaho State Councilare among the organizations that submitted nominations for the award this year. 

As of this year, 228 Spirit of Freedom Awards will have been presented since the award's creation in 2002.  The number of awards given is just the tip of the iceberg of the deserving individuals in our communities.  Countless Idahoans give of their time and talents every day.  Biographies of Spirit of Freedom Award recipients are posted on my website at  The actions of the award recipients and innumerable other Idahoans perpetuate the Spirit of Freedom and are more than worthy of recognition.

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