Today, March 13 is the 70th anniversary of K9 Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those veterans who served unselfishly and unflinchingly, often in the horrors of combat.
It was March 1, 1942, when the United States K9 Corps officially formed. Today, K9 dogs have joined the war on terror as well, policing our borders, transportation centers, ports, bases, fuel depots - often without being "official" members of the military. These brave, intrepid warriors include K9s in police, customs, border patrol, secret service, airport security and the FBI.
And who can forget the search and rescue dog teams that worked tirelessly at Ground Zero, and at the Pentagon. Private bomb and security dog teams continue in service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dogs also serve in a therapy role in the hospitals both here and abroad, helping to heal our heroes. Service dogs are now assisting those who are handicapped by the war to have a more meaningful life. And may we never forget as well the service of those privately handled dogs who search for the remains that are so important to their families. And of course many of our troops will readily tell you of how an unofficial war dog, a mascot, helped in keeping one's spirits high as the horrors of war worked to depress them.
First and foremost are the military dogs of all our wars, as their service and sacrifice paved the way for the creation of all the other uses for dogs. And we are certainly honored to have current handlers voicing their support for this campaign. Dogs have bled, suffered, and died while serving in all our wars, to include this war on terror, and they have done so in ways that do us all proud.
Dogs were there in the trenches of France in WW I, and the slopes of Iwo Jima in WW II, and though many were pure breeds, some others were mixed breeds, and our troops didn't care either way. They were simply grateful to have one, and they treated them with respect as a fellow soldier.
Of course dogs also served with honor in Korea, and Vietnam, and wherever our country has called them to serve. And unlike other so-called weapons, dogs served not to take a life, but to save them.
Tragically, in cases such as in Vietnam, many K9s who served faithfully were disposed of rather than brought back to the States.
But that doesn't have to be the case.
In the case of one fallen Iowa soldier, his K9 partner was brought home - for his younger brother. It was a touching example of the good that can come out of saving a K9.
In that case, it helped mend a broken heart.