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Witness Testimony of Steve O’Connor, Past State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars

MR. CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE; THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO TESTIFY ON THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE PERTAINING TO OUR COUNTRY’S VETERANS AND THE VETERANS OF SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA.

FOR THE RECORD MY NAME IS STEPHEN J. O’CONNOR. I AM A PAST STATE COMMANDER OFTHE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS DEPARTMENT OF MINNESOTA, A RETIRED ARMY OFFICER AND A SERVICE CONNECTED VIET NAM VETERAN.

THE VETERANS CEMETERY GRANT PROGRAM PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, IN THIS CASE FILLMORE COUNTY, TO WORK TOGEATHER TO PROVIDE AREA VETERANS A FINAL RESTING PLACE HONORING THEIR SERVICE TO THEIR COUNTRY..

I FEEL CERTAIN THAT THE CONSTRUCTION OF A STATE VETERANS CEMETERY IN SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA  WOULD NOT BE A POSSIBILITY IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE COMMITMENT AND WILLINGNESS OF THE FILLMORE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO WORK WITH LOCAL VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS ,THE STATE LEGISLATURE , THE MINNISOTTA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND LOCAL COMMUNITYIES TO IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP A SUITABLE SITE. FILLMORE COUNTY ALONG WITH THE SUROUNDING MUNICIPALITIES HAVE ALWAYS STOOD FIRMLY IN SUPPORT OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED THIS NATION.  THEY PARTICIPATE IN THE COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE OFFICER PROGRAM, WHICHOFFERS ASSISTANCE TO VETERANS REESTABLISHING THEMSELVES IN CIVILIAN LIFE AND HAVE DONATED 155 ACRES OF COUNTY PROPERTY AS A FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR THOSE HEROES WHO HAVE ANSWERED THE LAST CALL. THE LOCAL BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT HAVE PARTNERED WITH BOTH PRIVATE AND PUBLIC INTITIES TO PROVIDE FOR ITS VETERANS.

AS A VETERAN, I AM EXTREMELY PLEASED THAT THERE WILL BE A CEMETERY WHERE I CAN BE INTERRED WITH MY COMRADES. ALTHOUGH THERE WILL BE COMRADES FROM MANY DIFFERENT WARS, FROM MANY DIFFERENT ERAS, WE ALL SHARE AN EXPERIENCE THAT CAN NEVER BE EXPLAINED TO THE PROTECTED AND DOESN’ T NEED TO BE EXPLAINED TO THE WARRIOR. IT IS FITTING THAT THERE SHOULD BE A HALLOWED PLACE DESIGNATED FOR OUR ETERNAL REST.

THANK YOU AND THAT ENDS MY TESTIMONY. I WILL BE PLEASED TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THE COMMITTEE MAY HAVE.