Washington, D.C. – Below are the remarks of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) on the floor during consideration of H. Res 1516. The resolution, which recognizes and honors veterans of World War II, current service members, and their families, was approved last night.
“Madam Speaker, I rise today and request that the House support Resolution 1516, a resolution recognizing the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II and honoring the service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform who fought. I’m proud to note that I introduced this resolution alongside the Committee’s ranking member, Buck McKeon.
“Madam Speaker, I grew up around veterans of the First World War, and during World War II as a young teenager, I looked up to all my friends and neighbors in uniform as living, breathing American heroes. My father served in the Navy onboard the U.S.S. Missouri during World War I. It was on the next U.S.S. Missouri, the “Mighty Mo”, that Japan signed the official surrender papers to end World War II, 65 years ago this September. So the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II is a big thing for me. It’s a big thing for this great nation, and a big thing for the free nations of the entire globe.
“It’s difficult to explain to people who did not grow up during those tense years how it felt to be a young person in America the day Pearl Harbor was attacked unprovoked. America had already participated in efforts to prevent the tyrannical expansion of the Axis Powers by providing material and industrial support to Allied Powers long before we were attacked. But all of a sudden, the front lines of war were on our shores. I’m no longer that young teenager, but the memories of extraordinary valor and selfless service of the over 16 million American men and women in uniform are still with me today. Their efforts echo across these lands, in many complex ways, the simplest and most fundamental of those being the fact that we continue to be free.
“Allied forces faced vicious combat, exhibited unmatched bravery, and suffered untold tragedy in places like Southeast Asia, the Philippines, the islands of the Southwest and Central Pacific, the deserts of North Africa, across great stretches of the Atlantic Ocean, and from the beaches of Western Europe to the icy Russian tundra. Not only did Americans serve in uniform, Americans from all walks of life contributed to making the American home front the Arsenal of Democracy. It was the united efforts of everyone—every last citizen—that resulted in triumph.
“Ultimately, over 405,000 service members lost their lives in World War II. To them, their spouses, and their children, we as American Citizens will be eternally indebted. Thank you.
“Before I reserve the balance of my time, I would like to also take a moment to acknowledge the service of our brave men in uniform serving in our ongoing conflicts today. In some ways, the war we find ourselves in today is like World War II: our American homeland was attacked, unprovoked; and our uniformed service members are fighting to keep us free and safe from a war that has reached our shores. Our nation has been blessed with generation after generation of patriotic Americans who have selflessly served our country. You have carried on this tradition. Thank you.
“Madam Speaker, there are only about 2 million World War II veterans with us today. On the 65 th anniversary of Allied victory and the end of World War II, I request that the House of Representatives pass this resolution, Resolution 1516, to recognize the service and sacrifices of all of the brave men and women who fought and contributed to American victory over World War II, honors the families and decedents of those men and women, and the men and women themselves, whose lives were taken in defense of liberty and freedom, and remembers and honors the service members today who are actively fighting for freedom and to protect the American way of life in ongoing combat operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I reserve the balance of my time.”