Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

WASHINGTON, June 26 -

Mr. Speaker, the sun was lazily rising on the horizon. It was around breakfast time on a stunning Sunday morning. It was quiet, peaceful, calm. People felt secure. There was a small tropical breeze as the American flag was being raised on a nearby flagpole.

Suddenly over the horizon, a large formation of aircraft darkened the glistening sky. They broke formation and dove down from the sky, unleashing a fury of deadly, devastating bombs and torpedoes on a quiet place called Pearl Harbor in the Pacific Ocean. It was on that day, 70 years ago, when sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines saw war declared on America. It was December 7, 1941.

Over 5,000 miles away from terror stood a small, quiet town covered in maroon d√ącor known as College Station, Texas. College Station is not only home to Texas A&M University's Fightin' Texas Aggies, but also to the patriotic Corps of Cadets. Around campus you can spot the Corps of Cadets marching in sync wearing the uniform that matches their rank whether it is brown leather boots or trousers made of serge material.

December usually holds a brisk chill in the air in College Station, but the Texas sun kept the weather from being unbearable. Word traveled fast of chaos on the Pacific as America became engaged in another world war. Aggie tradition tells us that on that day teenagers turned soldiers when the entire 1942 junior class enlisted into the war along with half of their senior level comrades. They were all volunteers. They stood together as Aggies, brothers, Texans and Americans. They stood shoulder to shoulder and raised their right hands in unison and swore to defend their homeland. College Station became an image in a rear view mirror as pens and pencils were traded for guns and ammo. They left Texas to go fight on small islands in the Pacific, brutal deserts in North Africa and bloody beaches in Italy and France.

The year 1942 was also the time of the most well-known Aggie Muster under the command of General George Moore during World War II. Aggie Muster is on April 21st which also happens to be San Jacinto Day, the day Texas won independence at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Amid fierce enemy fire, General Moore and 25 fellow Aggies mustered in the trenches and caves on Corregidor in the Philippines. A war correspondent observed the make-shift ceremony and the world was introduced to the Aggie spirit. Every one of those Aggies were either killed or captured by the Japanese. Four years later when the Americans returned with Gen. McArthur and retook the island the Aggies mustered again. When I went to the Philippines recently, I saw a photo of those returning Aggies on the fortress wall of the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor.

According to Aggie Muster tradition, ``if there is an A&M man in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.'' During times of war, Muster is especially poignant. Texas A&M has produced more officers in the United States military than even West Point. It has the distinction, other than West Point, of having more Medal of Honor recipients than any other university in the United States. Wh