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Tribute to Servicemen and Women

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Location: Washington, DC


TRIBUTE TO SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 28, 2006)

SPEECH OF HON. ERIC CANTOR OF VIRGINIA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

* Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the important contributions and deep sacrifices that our men and women in the military make. I would like to share the experience of one of my constituents, Major Jeff Farmer, who recently returned from Iraq and sent me this message:

I'll leave you with a little story. After going on R&R three months earlier (to date I'd been away from my home for more than twelve months), I flew into Atlanta National Airport from Kuwait for a layover waiting for the next flight to Charlottesville, VA. I had on my same uniform that I had been wearing for 36 straight hours. I was trying to get home to my family. I was hungry so I went into an Appleby's in the airport terminal. I did not feel very patriotic so I found a corner booth and dropped my pack next to the floor by my table. I was tired so I put my head down as if to meditate and trying not to attract any attention. I was not quite sure if I wanted to eat or sleep however both were weighing heavily on my mind. The waiter came to my table and reminded me that I could not drink alcohol in the airport in uniform because of General Order #1. I told the waiter that was OK. I was not drinking anyway. My eyes were a little hazy and I was appreciating the look of free people walking around and enjoying each other's conversation. It was refreshing and distracted my attention while I was trying to look at the menu and order. It was nice to hear a baby cry, people laugh, and just enjoy what they were doing without consequences or repercussions. The environment was very warm which made me feel a little envious of my experience and if they really knew how good life really is. My meal finally came and I ate slowly trying to taste, smell, and enjoy every bite. French fries never tasted so good.

After an enjoyable meal I slowly got up and walked over to the counter to ask for my waiter so I could pay and leave. The cashier said, ``Don't worry. The meal is covered.'' I thanked him and he said don't thank me. Four different people offered to pay your meal and when I told the other three the meal was paid in full they said, ``Keep the money for the next soldier coming in.'' As I turned from the counter with my pack on my back people began to stand, thank me, pat my back, and applaud. Tears filled my eyes. I was humbled. Just the thought and gesture made me feel proud of what I was doing and my service to my country. At that moment I knew I was home.

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