Lawmakers and state leaders saluted Oklahoma’s veterans Thursday during a joint legislative session.
"I look around and can express nothing but gratitude for your service and dedication to our country,” House Speaker Chris Benge told more than 150 veterans who gathered for Veterans Awareness Day in the House chamber’s gallery.
"The United States has freed hundreds of millions of people from the chains of communism and totalitarianism over the years and this world is better off because of it,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. "There is no reason to apologize for America’s strength.”
Veterans stood and applauded.
"Those who have given their lives fighting for freedom all over the world are the true heroes in this country,” Benge said.
"Their sacrifice has made the human existence a stronger and better one. And that cause must continue.”
State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said Oklahoma has a long history of supporting veterans and the military.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” said Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. "It must be fought for, protected.”
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins told lawmakers they should ensure that veterans in the state receive benefits and that they receive the highest level of care available.