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Public Statements

Honoring Our Armed Forces

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise to commend my colleague from Michigan for his comments and rise to support and join him in praising our men and women in uniform who are putting their futures on hold and their lives on the line to defend our Nation and protect and advance freedom around the world.

The military action is going very well. We expect no less from our men and women in uniform; they are highly prepared and trained and dedicated.

Already many of these dedicated men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Across the Nation last week we rejoiced at the dramatic rescue of Army PFC Jessica Lynch.

Sadly, among the bodies found in or near the hospital where Lynch was held was the body of Private Brandon Sloan of Fraser, MI—one of Lynch's comrades in the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company that was ambushed by the Iraqis on March 23.

Others from Michigan who have given their lives in Iraq are: Marine MAJ Kevin Nave of White Lake Township, Army SGT Michael Pedersen of Flint, MI, and Army SGT Todd Robbins of Pentwater, MI.

And in the continuing operation in Afghanistan, Michigan mourns the loss of Air Force SrA Jason Plite of Grand Ledge who died in a helicopter accident as he flew on a mission to rescue two injured Afghan children.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these men and the families of all the other men and women who, as Lincoln said, "gave the last measure of full devotion" for their country.

Our troops who wear the uniform of this Nation with such honor deserve to know they are held in honor here at home.
My father was in the Navy during World War II and my husband served in the Air Force during the first Gulf War. Both have told me how important it was for the morale of all those who served to know they had the support of their Nation.

Military officials tell me there are things Americans can do right here at home to let our troops overseas know they are in our thoughts and prayers—things that will make life a little better for people right in our hometowns as well.

I commend, as did Senator LEVIN, all who are reaching out to support our troops.

Unlike previous conflicts, the Defense Department is asking people not to send care packages or letters not addressed to specific military personnel. Since the anthrax attacks of October 2001, these kinds of mailings just pose too much of a security risk.

However, the military encourages individuals or groups to show their support for the troops abroad by showing support at home for our veterans and the families of current National Guard and Reserve personnel whose loved ones are deployed far away—and then sharing your efforts with our troops in Iraq.

For instance, my home State of Michigan is home to almost 875,000 veterans of conflicts going all the way back to World War I. Volunteers are always needed at veteran's hospitals and veteran's homes.

Volunteers are also needed to help family readiness groups that assist the families of the National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been deployed far from home.

From my home state of Michigan, the men and women of the 127th Air National Guard Wing in Selfridge, the 110th Fighter Wing in Battle Creek and the Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena have been mobilized and deployed to bases around the world, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, South West Asia, and Turkey.

Army National Guard and Reserve units from Owosso, Taylor, Grand Ledge, Grayling, Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Pontiac, Three Rivers, Augusta, Selfridge, and Ypsilanti have been mobilized and are awaiting their deployment orders.

Many of these men and women leave families and well-paying jobs behind—creating hardships for themselves and their families just so they can serve their Nation.

Family readiness volunteers help families of Guard and Reserve units with everything from arranging for baby sitting and lawn care to staffing phone trees that keep families informed of the most recent developments regarding the deployment of their loved ones.

Once you have volunteered, military officials encourage you to go to a special website called www.operationdearabby.net.

There you can post a note to our troops letting them know what you and your neighbors are doing here at home to show your support as they serve abroad.

Military mail officials sort these messages so they can be delivered to soldiers who would be the most interested.

Mr. President, over the past 2 weeks our men and women in uniform have put on an amazing display of bravery and toughness. We have all seen the picture of our troops standing up against not just the enemy—but pounding sandstorms and blistering heat.

But something about the scene is very familiar—and very American. In fact, it is a scene as old as our Republic itself, as old as the brutal winter at Valley Forge in 1777.

Listen to the words of George Washington when he bid farewell to his troops when the war was finally over.

Against all odds, including that bitter winter and Valley Forge, these soldiers had won their freedom and created a new Nation.

It was almost with a sense of awe that Washington said to them:

The unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement, was little short of a standing miracle.

The spirit of that first American army lives on in our men and women in uniform today.

It is still little short of a standing miracle, it still inspires awe, and it commands us to do whatever we can do here at home to show our unwavering support.

I yield the floor.

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