Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

``I don't do it for the money ..... I don't do it for the glory ..... Providing for our future is my responsibility ..... I can't call in sick on Mondays when the weekend has been too strong. I just work straight through the holidays and sometimes all night long. You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door ..... I am solid ..... I am steady ..... I am true down to the core ..... I'm an American soldier.''

Words from Toby Keith's ``American Soldier.''

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in honor of a young American soldier, Private First Class Wesley Robert Riggs, who died serving our Nation in Iraq. Private First Class Riggs, in only 19 years, had exhibited a lifetime of dedication and duty. He was killed during a patrol on May 17, 2005, near Tikrit, Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded.

He was a native of Baytown/Beach City, Texas. Wesley graduated in 3 years from Barbers Hill High School in 2003. He was active in the Future Farmers of America. To Wesley's Ag teachers, he was well devoted to the curriculum and is remembered for his skills in Ag Mechanics and Meats Technology. They recall his love of fishing, hunting and anything outdoors.

Before enlisting in the United States Army in 2004, Wesley spent his days like many other young Texans. He enjoyed hanging around with friends and working on cars. He liked four-wheeling and camping. He was also a member of the Houston Olympic weight lifting team.

He attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Mt. Belvieu, Texas. Reverend Andrew Moore, Wesley's Pastor at Holy Trinity, recalls a dedicated young man that was extremely motivated and driven. He dreamed of a career in law enforcement after his years in the military.

A number of his band of brothers in the military paid tribute to Wesley at his funeral service. Others commemorated him at his memorial service that I was able to attend this past Memorial Day weekend. They all spoke of a comrade who illustrated exemplary service.

To date, Mr. Speaker, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, our United States Army alone has lost 93 Texans in combat-related casualties. It is interesting to note that one out of every ten Americans in the United States military comes from the Lone Star State.

Our military cannot replace individuals of such exceptional character as Private First Class Riggs. However, his service will provide a stirring example for the men and women who carry forward his tenacious fight against tyranny, terror and treachery.

Moreover, Private First Class Riggs helped to establish a democracy, the historic start of which I was privileged to witness in Iraq this past January. Freedom does not come, Mr. Speaker, because somebody carries a sign in protest. It comes because of sacrifice.

So if today we could hear from Private First Class Wesley Riggs himself, as a member once and always of the United States Army, as a member of the Infantry, called ``the Queen of Battle,'' he would resonate the remainder of Toby Keith's ``American Soldier:''

``And I always will do my duty, no matter what the price. I have counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice ..... I don't want to die for you, but if dying is asked of me, I will bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don't come free ..... I am out here on the front line. Sleep in peace tonight ..... I am an American Soldier, an American, an American Soldier.''

Private First Class Riggs might also hear the words that were spoken many years ago regarding the band of brothers in Henry V. He could say, inspired by Shakespeare, ``For he that sheds his blood with me is my brother. From this day to the ending of the world. But we in it shall be remembered, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.''

Private First Class Riggs, we will not forget you, an Army of one. He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. We