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We must salute all those who serve our nation

Courage is often talked about but seldom witnessed. This is especially true in Washington, where talk rarely translates into action. Luckily, there are some whose courage inspires all of us. They are our brave soldiers.

May is National Military Appreciation Month, a month designated by Congress to recognize the men and women of our armed services for their valor on and off the battlefield.

It’s a time for each generation to reflect on the sacrifices of their forefathers. Janet and I hope you use this month as an opportunity to foster your patriotism and love of country.

National Military Appreciation Month includes Loyalty Day (May 1st), Victory in Europe Day/Military Spouse Appreciation Day (May 8th), Armed Forces Day (May 16th) and Memorial Day (May 25th).

The different days show our appreciation to all military personnel and their families, acknowledging some of the unique sacrifices they have faced because of their service. The month also remembers those who have given their lives for this country and your freedom.

As Ohio’s senior U.S. senator, my decisions have a direct effect on our troops. It is always an honor to meet U.S. servicemen and women face to face.

One important step we can take to prevent future conflict and protect the lives of U.S. servicemen is becoming energy independent. Recently, I announced the National Energy Security Act of 2009 (NESA), a bipartisan bill that leads America into a future free of an oil based economy.

Today our nation imports approximately 60 percent of our oil, much of which is produced by hostile or unstable states.

As we continue to become more reliant on foreign sources of oil, we are essentially shipping our jobs and wealth overseas for oil to pad the coffers of many nations that do not have our best interests at heart.

My legislation is designed to reduce our oil reliance by 80 percent by 2050. This goal is attainable by diversifying and promoting electric and alternative-fuel transportation; increasing the supply of our domestic energy resources; and strengthening energy infrastructure.

Although this goal is challenging, energy independence is necessary to secure America from foreign threats.

As many of you know, Ohio’s diverse ethnic communities are an important motivating factor for my involvement in foreign relations.

Many of the men and woman serving in our armed forces come from first- and second-generation American families, creating a diverse fighting force that proves patriotism is not exclusive to any ethnicity. National Military Appreciation Month helps to honor each and every Ohio community whose sons and daughters serve their country.

America has faced many fearsome enemies, and will undoubtedly face many more as we tread our path through history. Fortunately, every generation answers the call of duty.

For 200 years, Ohioans have been the first to defend freedom and our country, in extraordinary numbers and with great distinction.

The desire to serve among Ohio’s youth is inspiring. The leaders of tomorrow are raised by the families of today, and I salute Ohio’s families for raising such wonderful leaders.

We must continue to foster patriotism and honor in our sons and daughters. Recognizing National Military Appreciation Month – and what is represents – is a wonderful way to start.

George Voinovich is a member of the U.S. Senate and represents Ohio.