The groups and individuals whom we recognize and honor in this Senate are as diverse as Pennsylvania itself. We pay tribute to service, to leadership, to scholarship, to athleticism, to traditions, and to much more.
Few are more deserving of our respect than the Pennsylvania National Guard. The thousands of men and women involved daily earn our gratitude, our admiration, and our prayers. Their training, their skill, their commitment, their motivation, these are impressive.
If we want to find where concepts such as devotion to duty and belief in America still run strong, we need only look to our Guard. Whether they are deployed on military missions, or engaged in peacekeeping, or responding to civil or natural emergencies, or cooperating in drug interdiction efforts, they are prepared, they perform, and they make us very proud.
The risks have changed from the days when Ben Franklin was organizing the militia to protect against Indian attacks, when the frontier ran right through Pennsylvania. But over the course of a storied history, replete with brave and determined actions, the importance of what our defenders do never subsides.
Interacting with members of the Guard is truly inspirational. It provides incredible insight into the depth of what service and sacrifice can mean. Why are we compelled to salute freedom? Two individuals from my district were honored for having completed three tours of duty. Still, they are not done. They are willing to do another tour, and expect to be called.
To every Pennsylvanian, go on the webpage of Military and Veterans Affairs to find out a lot about the makeup and the mission of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Better yet, talk to those serving, or to those who have served, and learn stirring lessons about capable people doing exceptional things on our behalf.
Freedom does not come without cost, and it is not sustained without cost. Pennsylvanians have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The losses are felt by families, by communities, by the members of their units. We must keep their memories alive in our hearts. Many others have been seriously hurt. We must extend to them our compassion and our care.
As much as we ask of our Guard, it is our obligation in return to see to their needs. Our action on matters such as extending the military family relief program counts. No matter how serious the fiscal pressure Pennsylvania is under, we must not shortchange the services owed to our veterans.
Any outstanding organization reflects strong leadership. That is a hallmark of our National Guard.
Major General Jessica Wright is rightfully celebrated as the first woman to serve as Adjutant General. But for those of us who have watched her carry out her responsibilities, it is not the novelty of her naming that is remarkable. It is the quality of her command that deserves distinction.
I am proud to present the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, Major General Jessica L. Wright.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson