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Cunningham Report 6.5.2014

Honoring Memorial Day

This last weekend our nation celebrated Memorial Day. Many associate this holiday with the start of summer, and while that may be true, there is a much deeper reason we celebrate Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and reverence for those who have died defending our nation and the values we hold sacred — liberty, courage and duty to one’s country. On this day in particular, it is important that we reflect on the sacrifices of every member of our armed services — from those who spent months and years away from home and family, and to those whose bravery and courage cost them their lives.

While we may never be able to repay our debt of gratitude to the hundreds of thousands of American service members who have died in battle, we can show our appreciation and respect to their families and take the time to honor the ultimate sacrifice they made to protect our country. Let us always remember they are the reason why we are able to continue living in this great country, enjoying the freedom not afforded to so many others. As former President Garfield said, “For love of country, they accepted death.”

This Memorial Day I was invited to speak at Ava Cemetery by the Ava VFW post 5993 and the Troy Heard American Legion Post 112, and was honored to do so. As a veteran myself, I am always humbled to speak at such events that are held to honor the courage, bravery and sacrifice of our fallen brothers and sisters.

One of the jobs of legislators is to ensure that our veterans are taken care of once they return home, and that they receive the services and benefits that are rightfully theirs. When I was a representative, I worked to help craft and pass legislation that established scholarships for surviving spouses and children of veterans. That bill also created the Missouri Returning Heroes’ Education Act, which requires all public higher education institutions that receive state funds from the General Assembly to limit the tuition charged to combat veterans for undergraduate studies to $50 per credit hour.

Thanks to House Bill 1125, active duty military members who want to run for a political office can now designate a representative to draw their respective order on the ballot. Before, these individuals had to be present to draw for their placement on an election ballot. This bill levels the field for those servicemen and women who have a calling for public service.

House Bill 1724 allows the Adjutant General to provide financial assistance or services from the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund to families or members of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Missouri National Guard, ensuring that families can be taken care of when they most need the help.

House Concurrent Resolution 11 encourages honoring of the heroic service of our women veterans, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 designates the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to be built on the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, as the official Vietnam Memorial in the state.

In 2012, the Legislature ensured funding for our veteran’s homes and cemeteries will continue in House Bill 1731. For years we worried where the funds would come from, now we know and can honestly tell our veterans that we have the means to care for them long into the future.

Sen. Roy Blunt’s Staff to Visit Marshfield

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s staff will be at the Webster County Courthouse from 9:00-10:00 a.m. on June 4 to listen to constituents and discuss their questions or concerns with the federal government.

Free Fishing Days

Fishing has always been one of my favorite summer actives. The Missouri Department of Conservation has announced a free fishing weekend on June 7-8. During this time, anyone can fish without a permit or license. Have fun fishing!

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

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