Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Mr. Speaker, it was said: From this day to the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.

Shakespeare penned this hundreds of years ago in Henry V. It represents the unfailing commitment a warrior has for his fellow warriors.

Since 2004, 36 men and women from the Second Congressional District area of Texas that I represent have served honorably for this country, the United States, and they gave their lives for the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their photographs are over here to my left. You notice, Mr. Speaker, they are of all races. They are men and they are women. They are from all branches of the service. They are enlisted personnel and they are officers in the United States military.

I would like to honor each of them today by name and rank and branch of service and a comment or two about each one of them. These are the sons of liberty, the daughters of democracy of America. They are our heroes.

As we approach July 4, the Fourth of July as we like to call it, where America celebrates its independence and we celebrate not only our independence but our freedom and our liberty, we wave the flag, we attend parades and all of those are good things about America. See, it's okay to be a patriot and its okay to show our patriotism as a Nation. But as we approach July 4, that important day in our history, I believe it is equally important that we remember that our freedom and our liberty have always cost America and its cost America its finest, its youth. These men and women, like patriots before them, gave up their youth so that we can have a future.

Patrick Henry, the great orator during the revolutionary times, said: The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, to the active, to the brave.

We are fortunate those words still ring true today, Mr. Speaker, and American warriors overseas carry those values into battle. These are 36 of them, the Roll Call of the Noble 36. Each of them have connections to southeast Texas. I would like to mention each one of them, because they deserve our recognition, but we also need to always remember them and their families. Because, you see, when these young men and women went off to war, their families went to war, too, but their families stayed stateside and they were ever vigilant while their sons and daughters and husbands and wives went overseas.

The first individual here, Mr. Speaker, is Staff Sergeant Russell Slay, United States Marine Corps, from my hometown of Humble, Texas. He was killed at the age of 34. He was killed on November 9, 2004. When Russell told his mother, Peggy Slay, that he was joining the United States Marine Corps after finishing high school, he told her that he knew she would not like it but he was going to do it anyway. And he did. He joined the Marine Corps and he was killed in action. Peggy Slay, his mother, whom I have known since Russell's death, has become very active in the Blue and Gold Star Moms in southeast Texas.

To refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, a Blue Star Mom is an individual who has a son or daughter overseas and they carry a flag or they have a flag on their window at their home that has a blue star in that flag. Gold Star Moms are those who have lost a son or a daughter overseas in war, and they have a gold star. Peggy Slay is a leader in the Gold Star Moms in southeast Texas.

Next to him is Lance Corporal Wesley Canning, United States Marine Corps. He was 21, a