‘Working holidays’ considered as recognition for SD veteransThe House State Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed legislation Wednesday that would designate working holidays honoring Purple Heart recipients and veterans who were prisoners of war or missing in action.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The state Senate has already given its OK for a new working holiday in South Dakota called Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Now the state House of Representatives will weigh in on two more in recognition of groups of special veterans.
The House State Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed legislation Wednesday that would designate working holidays honoring Purple Heart recipients and veterans who were prisoners of war or missing in action.
Both measures could come up for votes by the full House as early as this afternoon.
South Dakota currently has five of what are known as working holidays that serve to recognize special topics but aren’t official legal holidays:
• Wounded Knee Day, on Dec. 29, was established in 1994 in remembrance and reflection of the 1890 massacre.
• Little Big Horn Day, on June 25, was also established in 1994 in remembrance of the two-day battle in 1876.
• Bill of Rights Day, on Dec. 15, was created in 1998 to honor the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
• South Dakota Statehood Day, on Nov. 2, was set in 2001 in recognition of the day in 1889 when South Dakota officially became a state.
• Joe Foss Day, on April 17, was created in 2004 to honor the former governor and World War II ace pilot.
The POW-MIA bill was introduced by Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, who called it “a simple gesture of respect.” HB 1067 was supported by the Disabled Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Legion and Family Heritage Alliance, “We think it really needs to be passed,” said Royce Loesch, of the South Dakota American Legion said. Rep. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls, also gave his support.
Nelson, in turn, did the same for Stalzer’s Purple Heart bill, HB 1084. No one spoke against either bill. Asked how POW-MIA day would be differentiated from Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Nelson said those are focused on the veterans who died in combat. He said the working holiday would recognize the “greater sacrifice” made by POWs and MIA combatants. Nelson said he didn’t know how many other states have a POW-MIA recognition day. Asked how he chose the third Friday of September, he said it is consistent with the national recognition day.
Asked about the significance or impact of a working holiday, Nelson said it would serve as a day for remembrance.