SENATE REVIEW: Special Events, Special Groups | Opinion

I was so proud to once again participate in the annual Oklahoma National Guard and 45th Infantry Division Appreciation Day. This longstanding tradition on Capitol Hill had been suspended for the past two years due to social distancing and other safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year members of the Senate and House stood again gathered in joint session to honor and thank all who have served in the past as well as the 8,200 who are currently enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard. I had the honor of serving in the 45th Infantry myself years ago.

Members of the 45th Infantry Brigade have helped train Ukrainian soldiers who now defend their country’s freedom, and Oklahomans have been deployed in the War on Terror. The men and women who serve in the Oklahoma National Guard helped us during the height of the pandemic, and they are still in our communities doing heroic work in the wake of tornadoes, floods, winter storms and forest fires. We should all be grateful for their service and sacrifice, and it was wonderful to see this special event return to the Capitol.

We also passed a resolution in the Senate recognizing the 75th anniversary of Gold Star Wives of America, a national nonprofit military widow and widower service organization dedicated solely to the needs, concerns, and well-being of surviving spouses and dependent children. The phrase “Gold Star Family” actually originated during World War I, when military families displayed service flags featuring a blue star for each immediate family member serving in the armed forces. The color of the star would be changed to gold if the family lost a loved one during the war. Individual members of military families who lost loved ones also began to be referred to as “Gold Star Wives” or “Gold Star Mothers”. The help and support this organization gives to other Gold Star families is so important, and we are deeply grateful for their service.

We also hosted 4-H Day again at the Capitol. I was very happy to host the 4-H members of Payne County for their special day and really enjoyed meeting these bright young people.

Many of you may have belonged to 4-H as children. If you haven’t, know that this is also an organization that makes a difference, not just in the lives of its members and volunteers, but in communities across our state. 4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health.

The 4-H commitment is:

I pledge my head to clearer thought,

My heart has greater loyalty,

My hands for greater service,

And my health to live better,

For my club, my community, my country and my world.

While this organization’s roots were based in education and agricultural projects, it has since expanded to include educational opportunities in communications, science and technology, and more. Students take a hands-on approach, learn a strong work ethic and leadership skills that will help them succeed throughout their lives. 4-H members are four times more likely to contribute to their community, twice as likely to participate in STEM programs, and twice as likely to be civically active.

Finally, I also want to thank the members of Leadership Cushing who came to Capitol Hill last week. I had the pleasure of presenting them to the entire Senate.

Thank you for the privilege of being your voice in the State Capitol. If you have any questions or concerns regarding legislation or other state-level issues, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5572 or emailing [email protected] gov.

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