Veterans Day is a national holiday, dedicated to honoring Americans who have served our country in uniform.

But the holiday is not just any holiday. It is a day important for us to honor and respect the many veterans we know and who have sacrificed so much for our country.

I recently hosted a Veterans' Summit where Ram Chavez, a South Texas veteran, was awarded the prestigious Silver Star for his heroic actions in Vietnam. All those in attendance were moved by the story of Ram risking his life to save a fellow soldier in the line of fire.

That man was able to attend the ceremony and personally thank Ram for his brave deeds. It certainly made for a proud day for Ram and his family.

Stories like that of Ram are told every day, passed along to a new generation of Americans. Sometimes these stories do not receive recognition or notice-it took many years of work to finally have the Army recognize Ram's selfless actions. It does not, however, diminish the honor that Ram or any of our veterans have earned and the respect they deserve.

There is no doubt that accounts of bravery by our men and women in uniform are still being made, especially with our country currently engaged in two wars. This day is equally special for those who currently serve and we must always keep them and their families in our prayers.

To honor our troops and veterans, Congress has enacted a new GI Bill for a full, four-year education, to make the warriors of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan part of a new American economic recovery, just like after World War II. This new program follows historic increases in VA services and resources that Congress enacted in the past session.

Here in South Texas, we continue to struggle to expand the medical facilities and services that our veterans need and deserve. That is a fight that my colleagues and I will aggressively tackle as we move into a new session of Congress.

The undeniable truth is that without their service and dedication, we wouldn't be the nation we are today.

I urge all South Texans to reflect on that truth and honor our veterans.

Solomon P. Ortiz is the District 27 U.S. Representative. Readers may contact him via telephone at 883-5868.