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U.S. National Debt:

They Continue To Leave Their Mark

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The phrase, "Kilroy was here," with a cartoon, is engraved on two remote spots on the National World War II Memorial.  This is found on the memorial because American troops during World War II used it to leave their mark in various places they served.  Today, it remains a reminder of the permanent mark left by this generation of Americans who fought to secure our freedom and the freedom of millions of people across the world and then returned home to build America into the greatest country in the world. 

Recently, a group of these extraordinary individuals visited Washington, D.C. as part of Idaho's inaugural Honor Flight.  Twenty-four World War II Veterans from eight communities across Idaho--Boise, Buhl, Eagle, Garden City, Homedale, Kamiah, Meridian and Nampa--traveled to our nation's capital.  During their visit, the veterans had the opportunity to see the National World War II Memorial, built to honor their service and the service of their friends lost both during and after the war.

The National World War II Memorial, dedicated in 2004, commemorates the service and celebrates the victory of the World War II generation.  It honors the 16 million people who served, those at home who supported the war and the more than 400,000 who died in the conflict.  The Freedom Wall, which is part of the memorial, contains 4,048 stars, one for every 100 Americans who died in World War II.  "Here we mark the price of freedom," is inscribed below the wall. 

Among the fifty-six columns that are part of the memorial, stands a pillar with Idaho engraved in it.  Wreaths at the top of the column are reminders that, like the other states and territories, Idaho not only gave its citizens to serve in the war, but also provided its resources that supported America's success.  The History and Culture section of the World War II Memorial websitehas information regarding the symbolism of the design of the memorial.  The memorial and the service of those it honors remind us and future generations of the price paid and continuing to be paid to safeguard our freedom.

Nothing spoken, written, or even etched in granite, can ever fully thank veterans for their service.  In President Harry S. Truman's words that appear next to the Freedom Wall, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid, they have earned our undying gratitude.  America will never forget their sacrifices."  Our freedom is intact because of their efforts, including the service of these 24 remarkable Idahoans. 

After securing our liberty abroad, they returned home and built America into the greatest nation in the world--they did not waste time; they just got to work.  The sacrifices they made so that our nation could succeed are inspiring.  As we strive to excel amid the challenges we face in this ever-changing world, may current and future Americans take their sacrifices and commitment to heart.  The best way we can honor what they have done for us is by following their example. 

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