Honoring our troops, both past and present

Published 1:52 am Monday, May 28, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
On Monday, May 28, Americans celebrated Memorial Day and recognized the outstanding men and women who have so selflessly answered our nation's call to service.
Memorial Day was also an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces – both those currently wearing the uniform and those who have served in the past.
For almost 140 years, Americans have continued the strong tradition of recognizing and remembering the heroes of the past, the men and women who put their lives and careers on hold to take arms and stand together as a part of the American military.
Each year on Memorial Day, there are ceremonies and celebrations in cities and towns all across the United States. At Arlington National Cemetery, every available member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry placed American flags on over 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches at the columbarium.
Prayer services and parades were held to pay tribute to our living veterans and to honor the memory of the dead. I spent this Memorial Day at the South Alabama Veterans' Council (SAVC) annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Cemetery in Mobile.
We cannot forget to thank the families of those who served in harm's way. Military service is truly a shared sacrifice. Husbands, wives, children, mothers, fathers – certainly all family members know what service to country is all about, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to each of you for your sacrifice.
With every day that passes, we receive constant reminders from stories on television and in the newspaper of the sacrifices being made here at home and around the world by the members of our military, including active duty, guard, and reserve personnel.
From the active combat zones of the Middle East to small and quiet bases such as the Naval base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, the men and women of all branches of the military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – go about the business of defending our nation's freedom and the freedom of countries around the world.
Regardless of how you and your family chose to recognize this Memorial Day, I hope you will take a moment to remember some of south Alabama's own who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending liberty around the globe, particularly those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan:
– PFC Howard Johnson, II, Mobile;
– Sgt. Troy Jenkins, Repton;
– SPC P. J. Bueche, Daphne;
– CWO Philip Johnson, Mobile;
-SPC Christopher Taylor, Daphne;
– Sgt. Foster Harrington, Mobile;
– LCpl. Brad Faircloth, Mobile;
– SPC Steven Ray Givens, Mobile;
– Cpl. Christopher Winchester, Flomaton;
– 1st Sgt. Charles M. King, Mobile;
– Army Spc. Chris Mason, Mobile;
– Army Spc. Robert Matthew McDowell, Mobile;
– Army Staff Sgt. Harrison "Duck" Brown, Prichard; and
– Mr. Brett Hunter (KBR), Mobile.
I also ask you to keep contractor Timothy Bell (KBR), who has been categorized as "missing" since 2004, in your thoughts and prayers.
If I have overlooked any native south Alabamians who have lost their lives in the War on Terror, please accept my apologies and my gratitude and that of all Americans for their efforts and sacrifices.
May we never forget their lives and their sacrifices, and may we continue to honor our commitment to our veterans and their families in the years ahead.
Troops to Receive Needed Funding
I am proud that on this Memorial Day an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives was able to come together to fulfill our commitment to providing our troops the resources they need.
After four months of political wrangling, the House voted to provide our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan the funding they need to succeed in their missions.
The $120 billion war supplemental meets the president's terms without tying the hands of the commanders on the ground with arbitrary deadlines and without announcing a surrender date.
Gas Prices at Record Levels
As the summer driving season begins and many families start taking to the roads for vacations, most of us are experiencing sticker shock at the gas pump. We are seeing record gas prices, and it doesn't look as though those prices will drop any time soon.
Last week, the House majority passed a bill that sounds as though it would help eliminate the pain at the pump; however, this bill takes no real steps to address our energy needs.
In fact, this bill has the potential to have a detrimental impact on not only supplies but consumers as well.
Congress should be working together to address this energy crisis. Expanding our refining capacity and exploring new alternative energy sources will help lower gas prices, but instead, the House of Representatives wasted an opportunity to address the real issue facing our country, the need for increased domestic energy production.
My staff and I work for you. Let us know when we can be of service. Visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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