By O. Kay Henderson

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s weekly address this weekend.

“Unfortunately, all too often folks hear in the media talking about a divided America,” Ernst said. “But this Memorial Day I implore you to push past the 30-second soundbites and instead join me in honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation since its founding in 1776.”

Ernst, who is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, also honored America’s living veterans.

“Let us pause and remember all of the men and women who have given their lives so we can be free. Let’s pause and honor the families of the fallen who have also given so much,” Ernst said. “On Memorial Day, and every day, let us give thanks for these outstanding heroes. They serve as a testimony to the character of America.”

Ernst touted bipartisan legislation President Obama signed into law last week. It reversed a recent policy that had barred the remains Women Airforce Service Pilots from the 1940s from being buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Unfortunately these pioneers of aviation have long struggled to gain the recognition and honor they earned,” Ernst said.

Thirty-eight of the Women Airforce Service Pilots — called WASPs — died during their service.

“During WWII these bold, revolutionary women flew non-combat service missions for the Army airforce to free up their male counterparts for combat duty overseas,” Ernst said. “The WASPs willingly put their lives on the line for this country during a time of war.”

More than 1100 women were Airforce Service Pilots during World War II and they flew every type of aircraft in the military’s arsenal. They typically flew aircraft in the U.S. and Canada and a few of the women helped train male pilots.

The WASP program ran from 1942 until 1944. The military denied these women government insurance that was given to the men who left military service. The families of the 38 WASP pilots who died during the war were also denied death benefits.