Taking Time to Say "Thanks"

“We had a family drive all the way up from La Crosse. They lost their house and everything in it to a fire. We sent them home with a U-Haul and a trailer filled with everything they needed to start over again.”

The story came from Gary Stewart, the Executive Director of Hope Gospel RESCUE Mission. The emphasis is on the RESCUE.

Last week I spent time learning about the Mission – from the Bargain Store to Building Hope – a recycled building materials store on the north side of Eau Claire. Everything Gary does is about rescue – from the clothes and electronics the Mission sells at the largest bargain store in the Midwest, to the lives he, his dedicated staff and the Good Lord reaches out to save.

At this time when we pause and say ‘thanks’, my thanks goes out to the work of the Hope Gospel Rescue Mission.

Colonel David Chesser is the Garrison Commander of Fort McCoy. Mr Albert Fournier has worked as the Chief of Staff to the Garrison Commander for many years. Together they and their team move almost 140,000 troops through Fort McCoy in a year. Fourteen thousand men and women in every branch of the service are mobilized to the theater of war through Fort McCoy this past year. Another 128,000 troops receive state of the art training at the Fort.

I saw first hand the operations at Fort McCoy. I walked through the barracks, I ate at the mess hall, learned the Army’s rules and a bit of the lingo. Watching Airmen from the United States Air Force prepare to be deployed touched me as I realized the Global War on Terror was one airplane ride away.

My thanks goes out to Colonel Chesser, Mr. Fournier, all of our men and women in uniform, our veterans and civilians working behind the scenes to keep our troops safe and comfortable. Thanks for defending freedom in all the dark corners of our dangerous world.

A special thanks to our citizen soldiers in the Reserve and National Guard and to their families back at home. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you keep the children fed and the bills paid.

On my long, late, dark journey home from Madison, my thanks goes out to the State Patrol and all DOT workers who spent the summer filling pot holes. To the fire fighters, our sheriffs, deputies, city law enforcement, First Responders and EMTs – I know you are doing more with less and I appreciate your work. Thanks for keeping us safe.

To farmers in coveralls with dirt on your hands – thanks for keeping us fed. It’s not easy to farm. You can’t control prices – either coming in or going out. You can’t control the weather and thousands of dollars are at stake when the weather or the equipment doesn’t cooperate. I’ll be reminding folks in Madison that milk really doesn’t come from the grocery store!

Thanks to workers everywhere – the folks at Kwik Trip stocking the shelves, the milk truck driver who braves the back roads every day, our mail carriers, the folks still pulling third shift, and the single mom trying to make ends meet. To the officers at the prison keeping us safe, to the truckers diving late at night, to the small business people throwing their heart and soul into making the business work and the economy grow– thanks for all you do!

Thanks to everyone behind the scenes, working everyday to keep things running smooth. A special thanks to my staff – folks you might not know working to solve thousands of problems and making people’s lives better by making state government a bit more citizen friendly – to Joel Nilsestuen, Ben  Larson, Hannah Lott and my talented and experienced Chief - Linda Kleinschmidt – I couldn’t do this job without you.

Thanks to the 167,000 people of the 31st Senate District. I am humbly grateful for opportunity to serve you.

And to the Good Lord who showers blessings on us if we only open our eyes and see.

One more thing – while you’re reading this I’ll be in the woods with my 30-30 hoping I can thank the Good Lord for the 12 point buck that has been eating my crops for quite some time now. Will he come a little closer…

Happy Thanksgiving!