Special to Guthrie News Page
By Governor Mary Fallin
With the observance of Veterans Day approaching, I’m confident Oklahomans will again demonstrate their patriotic spirit by taking time to honor those who have served to protect our freedoms. Witnessing the deeply held Oklahoma value for veterans by our friends and neighbors is always inspiring to me. It’s important for us to know that the gratitude for sacrifices by Oklahoma veterans also is felt 7,500 miles away.
Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, and our state’s capital city are separated by those 7,500 miles. But recognition of the contributions made by our soldiers who have served there and are currently serving there transcends the distance. A trip to Kabul in December to see our soldiers exposed me first-hand to the special respect their people have for Oklahomans. Afghanistan’s leaders are appreciative of all the multi-nation troops helping their country. But their hearts swell with gratitude when talking about Oklahoma veterans.
That point was brought home again earlier this year when Afghanistan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib came to Oklahoma to quietly and personally relay his thanks to Oklahoma soldiers and their families. Ambassador Mohib shared one personal example after another about the contributions by Oklahomans: building and protecting schools; constructing dams to prevent floods and support new crops; paving roads that help secure 80 percent of the country’s territory; and supporting new opportunities for Afghan women, who now represent a quarter of the president’s Cabinet.
The progress in Afghanistan, the ambassador and I agreed, has come at a heavy price for many Oklahoma families. In fact, we were joined in our meeting by a widow of one our warriors who perished in Afghanistan and by a veteran wounded there. All of us talked about the challenges of multiple missions required of our soldiers and of the stress of families left back home. But, I think each of us left our meeting with a renewed resolve to make sure we honor our veterans by supporting them with the respect and services they have earned.
Afghanistan is, sadly, just one theater of war in our troubled world where Oklahomans have stepped forward when America has called. But it is heartening to learn yet again–that even half a world away—Oklahomans are making an imprint for freedom that will last generations.
Certainly this week, and hopefully all year, let us make it our goal to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice.