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Public Statements

Remembering the Hon. C.W. Bill Young

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Speaker, I was honored to be asked by the Young family to be among those who delivered eulogies for my departed friend and mentor last week in Largo, Florida. I ask unanimous consent that my statement be included in the record:

``From the back row of the House Chamber, Congressman C.W. ``Bill'' Young was able to see across the House Floor. And, for over forty years, through the terms of eight Presidents and 16 Secretaries of Defense, he watched members of both parties meet and greet each other as both Democratic and Republican Speakers presided.

``From that prized vantage point, he could also keep tabs on his longtime Defense Appropriations Committee counterpart and partner, Jack Murtha, sitting opposite him in the back row of the Democratic side of the aisle known as the `Pennsylvania section.'

``Jack Murtha left us a few years ago, but Bill soldiered on. In recent months he used a walker or sat in a wheelchair taking greetings from colleagues from both sides of the aisle. He was beloved--engaging everyone with a smile and handshake, however he might have felt on that particular day. He was always gracious, well-humored and accommodating to freshmen and old-timers alike.

``It is well known that Bill Young chaired the House Appropriations Committee, and twice, its Defense Subcommittee. He also served as Ranking Member when the majority changed hands. He loved our committee, constantly saluted our members for their dedication and fully expected each one to support the process, limit debate, support open rules and with a minimum of partisanship and `do the nation's business.'

``A copy of the Constitution was ever-present in his pocket, to remind all of Article 1, Section Nine, Clause 7. For those of you unfamiliar with this provision, I suggest you look it up!

``On the Defense Subcommittee, he always spoke of the dedication of members of our Armed Forces and the sacrifice of their families and our committee's obligation to serve them!

``He would say at every meeting: our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen and women are the ones doing the work of freedom--the ones who work every day to make the world safer for Americans and our friends and more dangerous for those who would do us harm.

``That's why Bill Young would often state on the House Floor, `there is no room for politics in our bill'--we must always be there for all those who serve and sacrifice.

``As you know, Bill and Beverly visited the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the old Bethesda Naval and the newly-expanded Bethesda National Military Medical Center just about every week.

``They were quiet visits, executed without fanfare or press release.

``Each time, they met with our wounded warriors and their families, adopting their hardships and often underwriting their expenses--helping them meet every type of crisis: food, travel, rent, inattention from medical personnel or hospital administrators.

``The Youngs confronted military brass whenever necessary in order to get those with physical and mental wounds the best care and support possible. They were fierce in their determination!

``And wherever they were with the troops, the Youngs took names, called their families and carried grievances to `the top' to be resolved. This was their SOP, their passion, and woe to those who underestimated their dedication and resolve!

``You might say from time to time they `rang a few chimes' to get a tough situation resolved! In fact, I am confident that there are many officers with us here today who would vouch for that. I won't ask for a show of hands, but you know who you are!

``Typical was the story Bill told us once--about a Saturday lunch at a small restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia--an area teeming with military personnel on-duty and off-duty. As Beverly left the table to greet another soldier or Marine, Bill was presented with the meal check and was stunned! `$171 for a tuna fish sandwich and a burger and two cokes?!?!' The waitress calmly replied that `It's not just a sandwich and a burger, sir. Your wife volunteered you to pay for that soldier at that table and that Marine family over there and the sailor in the corner and a couple that have already left.'

``I also know that, over the years, many military families were pleasantly surprised when their grocery tab was covered by Bill or Beverly Young standing behind them in the supermarket check-out line.

``Bill and my late father served together for a few years before my father retired from Congress in 1974. With that early tie, he has been a friend and mentor to me since my arrival.

``I know these personal connections may not count for much these days, but were it not for Bill, it is likely that I would not be serving on the Defense Appropriations Committee or honored to be speaking here today.

``Nor would I have had the opportunity to occupy the back row of the House chamber--from which Bill Young had an expansive view of American history as few others ever did or as few others ever will.

``He personally made much of that history, directing an appropriations process that actually worked, despite its procedural flaws and partisan challenges.

``It is well-documented that his strong support for our national security made America the envy of the world and improved the lives of our servicemembers and their families in more ways than they will ever know and assured that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

``A reverent hush has now fallen over that back row of the House chamber.

``The Congress has lost a leader.

``The nation has lost an experienced authority on national security.

``Our Armed Forces have lost a valuable partner.

``And whether they know it or not, the troops and their families have lost one of the best friends they ever had.

``We all have lost a great, principled man who lived a life from which we all could learn.

``May the tributes and prayers that have flowed in recent days be a source of comfort and strength to you, Beverly, and to Billy, Patrick and Rob and the rest of the Young family and his loyal, long-serving staff--past and present--both in his personal offices in Washington and Florida and the Defense Committee's staff--the unsung majority and minority professionals who make the Committee work.

``Ladies and gentlemen, the sun is setting on an American life of service. Bill Young, now an Honorary Marine, may be gone, but he will never be forgotten!

``From the back row of the House chamber, Bill Young had a front row seat to history--a history he helped shape. And for that, our nation is a stronger and a better place.''


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