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Governor Kristi Noem: Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Land of the Free Because of the Brave


By: Governor Kristi Noem

July 1, 2022


The patriotism South Dakotans display on the Fourth of July has deep roots in our state’s history. In fact, we waved the Stars and Stripes before we even became a state! The Dakota Territory in the 1880s stood out for its love for civic virtue, and historians recount how few holidays rated higher than Independence Day to the settlers. Those same historians note that this ingrained love for America explains why so many South Dakotans served in the World Wars, and why we as a state revere our veterans.


As we pause to observe the nation’s birthday this week, I am concentrating especially on our veterans. Why? Because the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. have thrown in the towel on their poorly thought-out plan to close down several VA hospitals across the nation, which included Fort Meade and Hot Springs, and to stop emergency services at the Sioux Falls VA, as well as close the clinic in Wagner.


When Biden Administration officials initially announced earlier this year their intent to take such drastic action, I immediately raised my voice in opposition. As I explained in my mid-March letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, those closures would have severely and negatively impacted the care of veterans in South Dakota and surrounding states. I noted that America should offer its veterans more health care, not less, and that this plan’s intent to “centralize” services would force our veterans to travel hundreds of miles for medical care they desperately need.


In short, I made clear that these recommendations to dramatically change veterans’ health care represented a betrayal of our veterans who offered to sacrifice life and limb to protect us and our freedoms. Thankfully, many other South Dakotans agreed with me and also raised their voices in protest of this terrible plan. I’m thankful the members of our congressional delegation—Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, and Congressman Dusty Johnson—were likewise united in opposition.


So often, when we observe the federal government initiate a plan that is so obviously wrong, it seems like nothing can be done to stop it. But here, we made a difference. By speaking up in a measured, thoughtful, and powerful way, we drummed up more opposition, culminating in a bipartisan group of Senators who took action this past week to force the bureaucrats to back down. By honoring the First Amendment and protesting a terrible federal government plan, we vindicated our veterans, those who have willingly offered their lives to protect our freedoms. Standing up for their right to quality health care barely scratches the surface of all we owe our heroes—but thank goodness we did.


President Calvin Coolidge, the only President of the United States born on the Fourth of July, once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” This Independence Day let’s all pause and remember our defenders—our veterans. We are the land of the free because of the brave—and we who live in freedom owe them a debt that we must continuously make good on: especially on Independence Day.