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The Spirit Of Freedom Remains Strong

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Each year, on Veterans Day, as we honor the men and women who protect our freedoms, I have the great honor of awarding some of these remarkable individuals with the Spirit of Freedom:  Idaho Veterans Service Award.  This award, which is presented to Idaho veterans and volunteers who assist veterans, provides an opportunity to recognize the outstanding service of area veterans and many in our communities.  Idaho is replete with individuals worthy of being honored for their remarkable service.  This year, I had the privilege of honoring sixteen Idahoans for their significant service.

Among this year's award recipients is a World War II Veteran who survived the downing of two of the airplanes on which he served and several months in a German prisoner-of-war camp and forced marching.  He went onto a long career and fatherhood.  He is also a grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.  Also among the award recipients is an Idahoan who received the highest military honor awarded by the U.S. government, the Medal of Honor, for his "gallant initiative and heroic conduct in the face of extreme peril" during an important World War II battle. 

Another honoree served in three of our nation's wars throughout his long and distinguished military career.  Further, a volunteer, who feels blessed to have the opportunity to assist veterans, was inspired to volunteer serving veterans to honor and pay tribute to those men and women who gave of themselves in serving this country to protect our freedoms.  These are just a few of the amazing Idahoans we get the benefit of spotlighting through the award.  These men and women encourage us to not give up despite the challenges, stay focused on moving forward, hold tight to great friendships and dedicate time to connecting with others, especially those who make our freedoms and security possible. 

Since November of 2002 when the first Spirit of Freedom Awards were presented, 186 Spirit of Freedom Awards have been bestowed.  The awards are generally announced on Veterans Day each year.  A number of veterans' organizations nominate individuals to receive the awards.  This year, 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 Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Vietnam Veterans of America submitted nominations for the award. 

I am continually inspired by the remarkable individuals we have living in our communities.  We are blessed to live and work among those who start each day not only thinking about how they can help ease the challenges others face, but they also do something about it.  They commit precious time and resources to helping others and strengthening our nation.  They make a difference in the lives of those they assist and those they move to follow their examples of selfless service. 

In the rush of life, the positive actions going on around us and the reach of our own seemingly small acts of kindness often get overlooked.  Pausing to recognize the good work of many in our communities is a way to demonstrate how much these efforts are appreciated and help kindle the sense of service in many Americans.  I am grateful to be able to honor some of these exemplary individuals through the Spirit of Freedom Award and gain inspiration from their examples of dedicated service.

Biographies of the 2013 and past Spirit of Freedom Award recipients are posted on my website at

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