Local Troops Deployment Luncheon Speech

Thank you fellows! It’s so wonderful to be up here wishing you goodbye from us here in north central Kansas! I asked myself how to make this ceremony better yet for you and I think I found a few ways. When your Captain Reidel called, he asked just for a speech but he got all of this instead. I phoned our American Legion Auxiliary President Gwen and asked her to do a lunch for you and your families – she said “YOU BET” – I asked if we should check with American Legion men - she said NOPE. Sorry Commander Valcoure! –GIRLS WIN! Let me have them wave to you: (insert from Gwen: The American Legion Aux. Unit 76 of Concordia has sponsored this luncheion. Hosted by the Units veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Chairman Pattie Post and Community Service Chairman Lorenne Phipps. Other members helping are: Gwen Trost, Laura Christensen, Ruth Lewellyn, Vicki Roberts, Anita Wisdom, Alice Fay Hanson, Jeniffer Ramsey, Kathy feriend, Karen Driscal, Wanda Sallman and Makayla Nelson. The auxiliary also wants to thank Walmart and the American Legion Club Room for their donations. The Auiliary all want to wish our local Troops and others the best of luck and that their prayers will be with you.
Just so you all know, Gwen is the President of the largest American Auxiliary unit in Kansas – 530plus! Good Job ladies!
And to Commander Bill Valcoure and Legion Rider President Ricky Simpson – thank you for never telling me NO whenever I ask for your help. You know and I know that everything I do in my job; you do in your job is due to these soldiers today and the veterans we’ve lost & those still with us. So a big thank you to the American Legion, the Auxiliary and Riders for today, for not forgetting our past & for stepping up EVERY TIME our men need us here.

So another thing I did was to call in some of my co-mates from Topeka to be here to eat lunch with you and say farewell with me. They’re here from around the state for you – let me have them stand up for you - Senator Jay Emler, Lindsborg, Representative Sharon Schwartz, Washington, Rep. Jim Ward, Wichita and Rep. Arlen Siegfried, Olatha. Thanks for coming!
I asked them here for a reason and this it is: I don’t know how many of you have ever contacted your legislator or have give much thought to who we are. I honestly thought the same way myself before I joined them in Topeka. Well here’s the great thing – besides your one Senator and your 1 Representative – you truly have 165 of us total in Topeka pulling for you, watching out for you & your families. And I haven’t even mentioned the other elected officials such as Treasurer McKinney, Agency heads and of course, your Governor. It’s important for you to know that you have any & all of us at a drop of a hat to help you at anytime. I also wanted you to see that we are really just PUBLIC SERVANTS or CITIZEN LEGISLATORS and not POLITICIANS you read about in the papers or see on TV. Real people doing a job defending your rights with laws like you do WITH your job of defending my freedom that you are trained to do. And Kansas Citizen Soldiers at that.

I know I was introduced as a Representative – but I also want you to know me as a daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter of Kansas soldiers. I grew up with stories full of memories complete with uniforms, pictures and medals to back them up. I still remember my Dad pulling down a shoebox of stuff from the closet when his friends were over. And so you also know, a big joy of my new job is working with veterans and supporting our troops anyway I can. There are so many aspects of the job but one is to carry a bill on the house floor – every member will do this at some point or another. If you are not used to standing behind a podium – it is nerve racking to say the least and if you have ever seen the house floor then you may remember how close the desks are together. I was assigned a bill my 1st month there, I researched it, tweaked the bill brief and took it to “the well” and did the job my leadership trained me to do to the best of my ability as a newcomer. And it went a good as I expected. – later that day Rep. McKinney (now Treasurer) who sat the closest to the podium on one side told me good job and I asked him if he could see my knees shaking! My friends know this quark of mine and still ask me about my knees today. The point of this story is to tell you that my knees aren’t shaking talking to you today and I know the secret now. I’m here for one reason today – that is to speak to you and you alone. They’re my peers – you are my people. It’s like tunnel vision just for you. I know who I am and I know who you are but better yet, I know what you do for me and everyone else in the State. I understand your oath, which by the way is very similar to ours. We both swear to God to defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Kansas. I understand your commitment but I also respect your sacrifice. I will never tell you I know how you feel – I don’t and I won’t pretend too even guess. Instead, let me tell you how I feel when I leave for the 4 ½ months to be a representative in Topeka. I leave every Sunday night and return every Friday night. I leave my life here - I leave my family, friends, job, my dog and my hobbies. My career consumes me that if you asked my husband Charlie if I’m really home when I’m home, he’d tell you NO. I miss dance programs, vocal programs, band concerts, conferences and homework. But I don’t miss a call to home every night. Other than what I just mentioned, I miss the smells of home the most; the dew on the grass, the mist of off my pond – just plain-fresh-Kansas-country air. NOW - what I gained is camaraderie with my co-mates - people I can count on through thick and thin, leadership from my “veterans” those who have served longer than I have – both parties and the notion of being part of something so much bigger than myself. And finally the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing something to help people, protecting people with good laws by using my own good judgment. I hope as I rattled those things off if I hit on a few of yours – so not to compare myself with you and your job at all, I dare to say I feel a connection to you that perhaps others not in our situation wouldn’t understand. Now having said all of that, I know when I leave home; people are there to take care of my family. And if by inviting my legislative friends here today & that you know you have me here or there, perhaps you can rest some easier knowing we all care more than you ever knew. Now Sgt. Mehlius and Sgt. Metz have my cell # and my email address – that’s how quick you can get me – and thanks to my 17 year old daughter – I know how to text too!

I want to tell you about a KS National Guardsman we sold a truck to before I left for session in January. Not unlike other people, he brought in a portfolio which I assumed he would put his title and paperwork into after I finished it – but I was wrong, he was headed directly to the courthouse to tag his truck and that thick book was his Purple Heart – one of two – so he could apply for the Kansas Purple Heart metal tag. As we talked about his experiences in Iraq he kept turning the conversation back to my job in Topeka – and then my jaw dropped as he told he admires what I do as a Representative. I was shocked – this Kansas soldier – wounded twice and with 2 bronze stars for bravery – admired me & my job? It didn’t compute and still doesn’t but we both agree we respect each other for what we do and will always be friends. He is in CA waiting for surgery as I speak – and I am anxious for him to return back to Kansas but certainly no more than his family who wants him home. I have another hero in Concordia and this one I related to as a parent. I knew my Chief of Police, Danny Parker & his wife had lost a son in Iraq but until he told us his story on Veterans Day in 2008 did I understand how a vote of mine in Topeka can matter in a truly personal way back home. He spoke of his grief, his anguish and his anger – his anger toward a group who protests at our soldiers funerals – you know who I mean. I voted for the Funeral Picketing Bill in my Federal & State Affairs Committee and then again on the house floor. It was back the next year to be strengthen even more. I voted again and I would vote a million more times YES for each and every one of you - and for my chief and all the families who need that protection that the law allows. It would be no big surprise to you that the American Legion Riders and Patriot Guards are heroes of Chef Parker would it? Today is my chiefs last day here in Concordia – lucky people in Winfield Kansas. But I doubt he can forget us here in Concordia though because we won’t let him!!

Did you know there was a display in the Capital building with an original Kansas National Guardsman uniform and other memento on the 1st floor? Well, I didn’t myself I am ashamed to tell you – I rushed by it every day my 1st year there always in a hurry going to my next meeting. It’s been moved now due to the remodeling of the Capital. I haven’t found it displayed yet but I will make you a promise – I’ll chase down that architect in the hard hat and 3 piece suit and see what his plans are and where they are putting it upon completion of the remodel. So when you are back from your tour in a year, how about looking me up in Topeka or one of my friends here to show it to you. And for that matter, with you commanders’ permission, of course, I bet this American Legion community will throw you a homecoming party – dinner and dance – if you’d like that – and you know - they haven’t told me NO yet!

So now, thank you taking time to have lunch with us here in Concordia with our citizens, our veterans and members of the American Legion, Auxiliary and Riders. Thanks you for everything you do to protect us and for all your sacrifices in doing it. Be safe, take care and remember, we will take care of everything and everyone back here in Kansas while you’re gone. And that’s a promise that cannot be broken – ever.

God speed and God Bless America!!