Veterans Day may be an officially recognized holiday, but many veterans don't get a chance to enjoy the holiday. A bill being heard before the Montana Legislature would make sure that Montana veterans get the day off from work.

Navy veteran George Blackard is on the American Legion's legislative committee. He is encouraging Montanans to support House Bill 460 being carried by Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings).

Blackard says the bill would require all employers to give their Veteran employees November 11th off as long as they give 30 days notice and their absence would not have an adverse effect on public safety. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in room 172 of the capitol in Helena.

Commentary from George Blackard

Veterans Day is a Federal holiday that was created to honor those who have served their country honorably in the armed forces. Unless they are a federal employee, Veterans do not get the day created expressly for them off but civilians do.

As with Memorial Day, the number of observances held for the Veteran's Day holiday has diminished, as has attendance. We must create a tradition for our families and children of attending these important holidays or one day there will be no more observances or ceremonies and the meaning of the day will be lost. There is no better way to accomplish this than to allow the Veterans this day was created for to take their families to local ceremonies and begin those family traditions.

Giving Veterans the day off allows them to attend ceremonies and functions held in their honor. This will allow younger Veterans who have not made it a tradition yet to go and be with other Veterans and experience the camaraderie that they may be missing. Many Veterans have never attended one of these ceremonies and have yet to truly experience the day. Again, if we wait until they are retired, there may no longer be any ceremonies to attend.

Allowing Veterans the day off will allow them to take our youngest generations to ceremonies and get a better understanding of the sacrifices their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, other family members and ALL Veterans have made to protect and ensure the freedoms they enjoy. It will help them to better understand what it is all about and why a Federal holiday was created in observance of the day.

This is all about Americanism and creating and continuing traditions that we as Americans and Veterans hold dear.

I am sure you can all think of reasons on your own. When I speak I will be mentioning some of the points above as well as telling a short real life story about how attending a Veterans Day ceremony had a profound effect on a Veteran. Please, if you can, make every effort to be there or contact your representatives and ask them to support this bill. I will be driving up Wednesday morning early and can carry two or three more people so let me know if you would like to ride along from Billings.

For God & Country,
George Blackard
Americanism Chairman; American Legion Department of Montana

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