OUR VIEW: Holidays are not the best way to help our veteransAlready, South Dakota has five working holidays in state law, including Joe Foss Day (April 17), Statehood Day (Nov. 2), Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15), Wounded Knee Day of Reflection (Dec. 29) and Little Big Horn Recognition Day (June 25).
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
We are happy any time veterans receive recognition for the service they have provided to their country. If anyone deserves it, it’s America’s veterans. And here in South Dakota — a state that has shouldered its share of wartime burden — we have plenty of veterans worthy of recognition.
But the South Dakota Legislature is going overboard with its recent spate of granting “working holidays.”
It appears there will be a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day each March 29 in South Dakota. Two other proposals before this year’s Legislature are to designate Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Recognition Day and the third Friday of September as POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Already, South Dakota has five working holidays in state law, including Joe Foss Day (April 17), Statehood Day (Nov. 2), Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15), Wounded Knee Day of Reflection (Dec. 29) and Little Big Horn Recognition Day (June 25).
Honest to goodness, we didn’t realize these even were official working holidays until our Capitol reporter noted those dates in a recent news story. That tells us the average South Dakotan doesn’t, either.
To add three more working holidays to our plate is just too much.
Again, The Daily Republic considers itself very patriotic and respectful of veterans. But two other more notable national holidays already are entirely dedicated to honoring those who have donned the uniform of the United States’ military branches. Those holidays are Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
We aren’t against veterans, nor are we against honoring their commitment and service. We absolutely appreciate their dedication and sacrifice, and have said so many times over the years. We have published veteran-related special editions and we recently opined in favor of naming a stretch of Interstate 90 in honor of veterans.
Our problem isn’t with veterans whatsoever, but we are against adding more working holidays to South Dakota’s already busy holiday calendar. South Dakota doesn’t need more working holidays that most people will forget immediately after they’re created, and certainly we don’t need the overkill of creating three new ones in a single legislative session.
In fact, creating a holiday for veterans that the public won’t truly observe could end up being an insult. If Joe Foss were still alive, how do you suppose he would react to the knowledge that nobody even knows about his supposed “holiday”? Additionally, we fear several additional veterans holidays would only serve to water down the existing ones.
There are other ways to honor veterans. This state made a great stride earlier in the legislative session by appointing a first-ever secretary of veterans affairs. Many in the state are working hard to save the federal Veterans Administration facilities in Hot Springs. In Mitchell, volunteers are being recruited to drive veterans to their health-care appointments.
Those are the kind of real-world endeavors lawmakers should, and often do, support. Adding another unobserved holiday to the calendar is a well-intentioned but hollow effort at best; at worst, it’s politicians making a play for veterans’ votes.