EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF CONGRESS THAT THE PRESIDENT POSTHUMOUSLY AWARD THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM TO HARRY W. COLMERY -- (House of Representatives - July 06, 2004)
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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Con. Res. 257, a resolution that would urge the President to posthumously award Harry W. Colmery of Topeka, Kansas, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In order to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a person must have contributed in one of the following areas: the security or national interest of the United States, world peace, or another significant public or private endeavor. Harry Colmery's work to bring the gift of education to so many millions of American service members certainly qualified.
Harry Colmery answered the call of duty in World War I by serving as a first lieutenant in the Army Air Service. Aviation was a new concept in those days, and Mr. Colmery showed exceptional bravery and faith by serving his country in the air.
Harry Colmery also served the United States as a lawyer, having received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1916. He used his education well and argued two successful cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In his personal life, Mr. Colmery was active in the American legion, and its members elected him National Commander in 1936.
In December of 1943, Mr. Colmery's law career and his devotion to his country intersected. Millions of young Americans had answered the call of duty and served in World War II and were starting to return home. Harry Colmery and the American Legion wanted to ensure that these returning soldiers would be able to transition back into civilian life. In Room 570 of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., Mr. Colmery outlined the legislation that became the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known now as the G.I. Bill of Rights.
The G.I. Bill has helped to create over 250,000 engineers 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, and 22,000 dentists since being signed into law. Thanks to these men and women, bridges, buildings, and ships have been built; children have realized their dreams, scientific mysteries have been solved, and patients in need of care have been healed.
As an active member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I am proud that Mr. Colmery's work on the G.I. Bill of Rights is something we have built upon. In the 107th Congress, my colleagues and I worked to pass legislation to expand educational benefits for veterans. This legislation, The 21st Century Montgomery G.I. Bill Enhancement Act, included an increase in basic education benefits, an increase in the rate of survivors' and dependents' educational assistance and an expansion of the work-study program.
Today, the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are creating a new generation of veterans. Harry Colmery's foresight has secured valuable educational benefits for these men and women who are so bravely defending freedom in the war on terror and gives them opportunities for their futures.
I am pleased that my colleague, Mr. RYUN, has been successful in bringing this resolution to the House floor, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of this resolution to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mr. Harry W. Colmery.
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