Service and sacrifice. This week, we honor our nation’s current and past members of the military during annual Veterans Day observances across Nebraska and the United States.

In the past year, we’ve seen terrible acts of terrorism at home and abroad, and now more than ever we owe our Nebraska soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen a heartfelt thank you. These men and women, as well as their families, continue to make daily sacrifices on behalf of the freedoms that we as Americans hold so dear.

This past weekend, I had the privilege to help honor one of our Nebraska veterans. Spiro Moustakes of Omaha fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, and applied years ago for medals he earned in the line of duty. Now, 71 years since his service concluded, he finally received his medals, thanks to the assistance of the Nebraska National Guard, which presented them to him at his home on Sunday.

Recently, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac traveled with a contingent of Nebraska National Guard senior leaders to Fort Riley, Kan. They were there for the assumption of command of Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin to the head of the First Infantry Division. The event included a ceremony for this division headquarters as they deploy overseas in support of our nation’s ongoing operations against ISIS. Among our soldiers deploying with the First Infantry Division are approximately 90 from our Nebraska Army National Guard’s newly organized First Infantry Division Main Command Post-Operational Detachment.

These soldiers and their families are joining a long, unbroken line of Nebraska citizen soldiers who have time and time again placed their lives on hold. They have made sacrifices that few truly understand or appreciate, and pledged their lives to the protection of our nation’s constitution and the American people. It is a noble calling that few of us ever undertake, but it makes freedom possible for all of us.

On this Veterans Day, I encourage all Nebraskans to join together to honor and thank our veterans and their families for their service, their sacrifices and their leadership. As President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

We must seize this opportunity to honor our veterans now. Many who served our country in World War II, Korea and Vietnam are in their golden years. No matter to which generation of American veterans they belong, each one of them have added immeasurably to our communities. Their commitment to service before self has strengthened our state.

After Veterans Day, let’s not forget the significance of these sacrifices. All year long we enjoy freedoms such as the ability to vote, to assemble and to worship. These freedoms were made possible by the actions and commitment of our veterans. We can continue to support our Nebraska veterans year round. The nearly 200 Nebraska Army and Air National Guardsmen who are currently deployed and in harm’s way need our prayers each and every day. Our veterans who live with the physical and psychological effects of war need our love and support as they return to our communities. Veterans Day brings a renewed focus on the sacrifices our veterans make and the challenges they face. We cannot forget to continue to support them throughout the year.

This week, I would love to hear about how you’re honoring our veterans. If you’d like to share your activities, please email me at or call 402-471-2244.

Pete Ricketts is governor of Nebraska