This week marked the 68th anniversary of the day more than 100,000 brave soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy to help liberate Europe, defend our nation, and protect the way of life we still enjoy today. I’ve often told the story of my father’s service in the 30th Infantry Division, which landed at Normandy and helped lead Patton’s unit across France and eventually stood firm during the “Battle of the Bulge.” The impact of the service of all who landed on D-Day, and in the days that followed, remain with us.
Many of the memories I have of my father are rooted in the idea of service and sacrifice, the honor that he and his fellow troops displayed proudly 68 years ago, and lives on in those who serve today. As we take a moment to recognize those who led one of our nation’s bravest missions, we must also recognize the service of everyone who wears our uniform and holds the belief that we all share — that America is the greatest nation on Earth and the defender of freedom around the world. In recognizing that, we must, in turn, give our troops the honor and recognition they’ve earned, the care and benefits we’ve promised them, and the funding and equipment to continue to keep our military and nation great.
Heroes at Home
You don’t have to go far in our district to find heroes who landed at Normandy, took on Hitler’s forces across Europe, or continued the fight for freedom in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. Countless others have served on behalf of our country in nations across the globe, shedding their sweat and blood in the name of freedom and all who came before them.
This sacrifice is one that must forever be honored and recognized. They promised to help preserve and protect our nation, and in return we must always keep our promise to protect them, both in combat and upon their return to life back home. From basic medical care to mental health and treatment for our Wounded Warriors, we need to ensure that every need is met and every call is answered. As a co-chair of the Invisible Wounds Caucus, I’m proud to say that we’ve built a good bipartisan coalition of those who share similar concerns and continue to work towards that goal. So many active duty, retired and veteran military members call our district home, and I’ll continue to do all that I can to ensure they get the care, benefits and respect that they so deserve.
A Local Hero Turns 100
This week, I was honored to visit with Mrs. Ruby Hendley Murray, one local hero who celebrated her 100th birthday on June 8. Mrs. Murray was born in Anson County and went on to study at Pfeiffer College (now Pfeiffer University) in Stanly County, where she was trained to be nurse. Mrs. Murray’s love of helping others led her to sign up for active service with the U.S. Navy in the 1940’s, where she helped treat wounded World War II soldiers as they returned home from combat. As part of her birthday celebration in Albemarle this week, I was honored to help recognize her with surprise presentations from the office of the Secretary of the Navy and the VA’s Center for Women Veterans. When I first heard Mrs. Murray’s account of her service, I had my office reach out to officials at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington. They helped research her records and accounts of her duty, and I’m proud to say that there will now be a permanent place where Mrs. Murray’s name and story can be displayed and preserved at that site.
People such as Mrs. Murray, and so many others from our area, are responsible for so much of what has made our nation great. From those who served to those who answered the calls of industry to help build and create and manufacture planes and tanks in times of battle, our nation came together to help answer the overarching question we so often face: “What will our future hold?” For them, they held a firm belief and answered that our nation would overcome all challenges, emerge victorious and use the skills they honed in powering and protecting our war fighters to power the future of our economy and industrial sector. Recent times have posed that same question to us, and I believe that we must answer the very same way. The wisdom and work ethic of our parents and grandparents is exactly what we need today—to protect this country, care for our troops and revitalize our manufacturing base in industries old and new, across our nation. We must always remember that America is an optimistic country, and that has been one of the secrets of our success.
We Cannot Play Politics with Those Who Defend Freedom
Today, partisan bickering and reckless actions from Washington threaten to derail much of what our nation holds dear. Drastic cuts to military funding leave not only our nation at risk, but the safety and well-being of the very men and women who stand proud to defend us. Cuts in essential military services threaten our very preparedness and ability to respond to the nations that continue to take actions that display their hatred of our freedom and way of life. These cuts also have severe economic impact on our nation and especially our district, where much of our business is in the equipment, goods and services that serve our service members here and abroad.
I believe that our nation’s debt and ongoing deficit are the biggest threats to our national security. I helped introduce and supported the Balanced Budget Amendment because I agree with so many people in our district who share those same concerns. But in tightening our belt, we must keep our troops protected and our industrial base vibrant. Blind, across-the-board, defense cuts jeopardize both of those principles and that is one of the main reasons I opposed creation of the so-called “Super Committee” that has now left us facing sequestration and the irresponsible budget process it entails.
Just as our military uses precise targeted actions to eliminate threats and keep us safe, our government must use the same precision and planning in all dealings with our defense budget. The men and women of our military do not ask us for nearly so much as we ask from them, and our budget should reflect a respect and appreciation for that selfless service. It is the least we can do to honor the memory of those who have fallen and the lives of those we are so lucky to still have with us.