U.S. Rep. Karen Bass released the following statement in advance of Memorial Day:
"On this Memorial Day, we give thanks and offer praise to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who have worn the uniform and taken an oath to defend our nation. We pause to remember the 624 service members from California who have made the ultimate sacrifice and died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Democrats have always stood with our veterans. We enacted a new GI Bill restoring the promise of a full, four-year college education for our returning heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. We strengthened health care for more than 5 million veterans and have expanded efforts to treat brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders that have affected so many of our troops. We improved our support for military families by building better military family housing and child care centers.
"Last week, I visited Iraq. Though I am well informed on the ongoing events transpiring within Iraq and the region, there is nothing that can quite prepare you for visiting a war zone. There really isn't an answer to the question, "Did you enjoy your trip?" because visiting a country tormented by brutality and bloodshed is not something meant to be enjoyed. From Baghdad to Kirkuk in the north, I could see the scars of conflict, but also the seeds of opportunity.
"There are strong flickers of hope where there was once a bleak forecast. Our troops are working to transition security responsibility to the Iraqis. The process is being carried out as we speak. The commander of the transition is General Lloyd J. Austin III, the highest ranking African American officer in the Armed Forces is a leader of uncommon strength with the clarity of vision to undertake this massive operation. It is because of leaders like General Austin, as well as the men and women under his command, that our nation's Armed Forces remain the envy of the world.
"On this Memorial Day, let us wish for a speedy and safe return home of our troops who are in harm's way and look forward to a day absent of war and conflict.