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National Character Counts Week

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL CHARACTER COUNTS WEEK -- (Senate - September 27, 2008)

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NATIONAL VETERANS AWARENESS WEEK

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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise in support of a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the week including Veterans Day--November 9-15, 2008--be designated as ``National Veterans Awareness Week.'' This marks the ninth year I have introduced such as resolution, which has been adopted unanimously by the Senate on all previous occasions, and has been recognized by the President as an important objective. With our military men and women continuing to be on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is no doubt appropriate that we recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of those who are currently serving to protect our freedom, as well as those who have served in the past.

The idea behind National Veterans Awareness Week actually came from a Delaware student, Samuel I. Cashdollar. In 2000, as a 13-year-old seventh grader at Lewes Middle School, Samuel won the Delaware VFW's Youth Essay Contest with a powerful presentation titled ``How Should We honor America's Veterans?'' Samuel's essay pointed out that we have Nurses' Week, Secretaries' Week, and Teachers' Week to rightly emphasize the importance of these occupations, but no comparable week to encourage, and honor, service in the military. That is why, every year since 2000, I have introduced a resolution designating National Veterans Awareness Week to focus on educating our youth on the contributions, heroism, and service of our veterans.

The reality is, during both World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, families were more likely to have a relative serving in the military. That is not the case today; tremendous advances in military technology, an all-volunteer force, and increases in productivity have greatly reduced the number of families with relatives who are active servicemembers or recent veteran. Coupled with the fact that the number of veterans who served in major conflicts like World War II is declining, it is more important than ever that we take the time to make sure students comprehend and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our veterans. National Veterans Awareness Week provides us with an opportunity to do just that. Additionally, with soldiers returning from the front lines with service-connected injuries, National Veterans Awareness Week reminds us how important it is that we keep our promise to veterans by providing them with the proper support and services they need once they return home. This promise is the most sacred obligation we have, and it is imperative that our children are also aware of the debt we owe our veterans.

In closing, let me add that, although many of us will not have the opportunity to serve our country in uniform, we must not forget our responsibility as citizens to fulfill the obligations we owe, both tangible and intangible, to those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf. By passing along this shared responsibility and recognition to future generations, our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will continue to appreciate and honor what our veterans have accomplished in order to appropriately confront the many challenges they are sure to encounter.

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