Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Honoring Wisconsinís fallen heroes

by Neal Kedzie - State Senator

February 09, 2012

In the Senate last month, we had the privilege of honoring three of the stateís heroes, Wisconsinís fallen soldiers. Their families came to the State Capitol where all Senators gathered together to show their respect. One of the three fallen soldiers was from the 11th Senate District, and it was an honor for me to meet the family and express our collective gratitude for the sacrifice made on behalf of our nation.

In the Wisconsin Legislature, we honor these military personnel through a Fallen Solider ceremony. It gave me great pride to co-author the protocol for this ceremony in 2005. The protocol ensures the State Senate appropriately honors Wisconsinís heroes in a manner that is consistent and dignified for both Legislators and families, and in which the Legislature pays tribute to the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country.

The procedure involves Joint Resolutions honoring deceased military personnel, law enforcement officers and firefighters. When a member of the armed forces has been killed in the line of duty, the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs notifies the Senate, and a Senate resolution honoring the memberís service is drafted. Such resolutions and corresponding ceremonies are offered only if the family of the soldier approves.

The Senate notifies the family of the intent to honor the deceased and makes arrangements for them to attend the Wisconsin Fallen Heroes presentation at the State Capitol in Madison. During the ceremony, family members are typically escorted to the Senate floor for the reading of the Resolution, which is then followed by all Senators rising for a moment of silence as the resolution is adopted.

If the family is unable or unwilling to attend the ceremony, a citation of the resolution is delivered to the family. After the ceremony, the Resolutions honoring members of the Armed Forces are forwarded to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for permanent archiving, where they remain accessible for family and visitors year round.

The Senate Fallen Soldier ceremony is more than just formal resolutions and solemn words. It is the acknowledgement by the stateís Senators, representing more than five million Wisconsin residents, that one of our citizens has answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price for our right to serve in this chamber. The freedom we enjoy to express our First Amendment rights to engage in the purest form of representative democracy on the floor of the Senate is preserved by each man or woman who wears the uniform and takes an oath to support and defend our constitutional right to do so.

Honoring our fallen soldiers serves as an important reminder to all of us that each day, men and women in uniform are fighting and dying in order to protect and defend our most basic freedoms. I am grateful to them and for what they are doing for our state and nation. Our fallen soldiers truly are the ultimate heroes.

Sen. Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or on-line at