ST. PAUL-Legislation Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, wrote to honor the late Gen. John Vessey gained final passage without opposition in the House Thursday, May 10, and now is in the governor's hands for enactment.
Lueck's bill designates June 29-Vessey's birthday-as Gen. John Vessey Day in Minnesota. Over his 46-year Army career, Vessey advanced through the ranks from a 16-year-old Minnesota Army National Guard enlistee to a four-star general. He was selected by President Ronald Reagan to lead the nation's military forces as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vessey's very distinguished military career spanned World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
Upon his retirement from active duty, Vessey and his wife, Avis, returned to Minnesota, making their home near Garrison. Even after retirement, the general remained on call. He led negotiations with the government of Vietnam to account for missing U.S. servicemen in that country.
"A soldier's soldier, Gen. Vessey's selfless service during four major wars, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, culminating in the end of the Cold War merits special recognition," Lueck stated in a news release. "I want to thank my fellow Minnesota veterans in helping to recognize this great leader. He answered the call to duty at a very young age and went on to serve as our nation's highest-ranking military officer.
"The fact that he lived in our area of Minnesota for a number of years, near Mille Lacs Lake, and that I served on active duty at the same time Gen. Vessey was leading our military forces makes it a very special honor to be asked to work on this proposal."
Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, wrote the companion bill.
Another bill Lueck wrote more broadly pertaining to veterans also received final legislative approval this week. The bill adds a veterans' status check-off box to state agency appointment applications. Lueck said the intent is to help better track how veterans fit into the state's agencies, boards, councils, commissions and task forces.
"The state currently collects background information on a voluntary basis from individuals that apply for appointments to Minnesota's over 200 state-level citizens' boards, commissions and working groups," Lueck said in the release. "That voluntary information includes items such as age, gender, disability status, race and other information, however veterans' status was not one of the items being collected. We needed to change that."