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Public Statements

Honoring Our Armed Forces

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to pay tribute to our men and women in uniform serving at home and abroad and honor their service to this Nation. Our service men and women have risen to the call in the fight against terrorism. They have risen to the call to ensure peace and stability in the world. And they have risen to the call to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.

One of the great aspects about America is our military. We have a history in our armed services, a rich and deep history of honor and integrity, and we see that firsthand in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I wish to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice of two of our servicemen who fell in the line of duty: Hospital Corpsman Michael Vann Johnson, Jr., a 25-year-old Navy medic serving in the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marine Expeditionary Force. Michael was born in Little Rock where his mother still lives. I talked with her by phone the other day. She is a soldier in her own right.

LCpl Thomas Blair was a 24-year-old marine whose father, Al Blair, resides in Gravette, AR.

They died very bravely, both serving their country and both trying to make life better for mankind. I pray for their families, and I honor them as brave and selfless men who put their lives on the line to make the world safer for others.

I also pray for Iraq and the Iraqi people. I pray that after Saddam Hussein leaves power and that regime ends, the next government in Iraq will be peaceful; that it will not be oppressive of its own people; that it will not be aggressive toward its neighbors; that Iraq will become a solid rock in the Middle East and in that part of the world and a model of stability.

I also honor the service of LCpl James, or as we know him, "Jason," Smedley of the U.S. Marine Corps. Jason was wounded in combat and, by the grace of God, he is returning to us now. When not fighting for his country, he serves in the office of my colleague from Arkansas, Senator BLANCHE LINCOLN, assisting Arkansans. We look forward to having Jason back, around and helping Arkansans in the many ways he does.

Military service is not a job; it is a calling. It takes a special person to pledge to serve their country, risking life and limb in doing so. It takes courage, commitment, and a true sense of self to be prepared to deploy and fight for America.

I have two young children, ages 7 and 9, and I think about the children of our military men and women. I think about the boys and girls whose fathers and mothers are far from home or working long hours in the United States. I want them to know we appreciate the sacrifices they are making, that we admire their valor in keeping their spirits up, and that their parents are doing a job that epitomizes the best in human character.

I pray to God for peace, for world peace, and for the safe return of our troops, and I thank God. I thank God for allowing me to serve the people of this Nation in this way. As a Senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee, I stand ready to work with my colleagues and the President to provide any and all support possible to ensure the success of our military forces conducting these operations.

Our Nation is one of diverse views, diverse ideologies, and diverse opinions. That is one of the aspects that make America great. We might not all agree on how we got to this point; nonetheless, we come together as one country to support the service men and women who are currently risking life and limb for this great Nation. They put themselves in harm's way not for personal aggrandizement or advancement but for immense love of country, liberty, and family.

If they can hear me today, I say be assured that the American people are behind you.

When appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee a few weeks ago, GEN John Keane, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, testified to the courage of our military personnel. He said, when asked what is their greatest challenge, his division commanders replied: Keeping our soldiers from being too brave. They are brave, but we want them to return home.

This is not just for our regular Armed Forces but also for our Reserves and our members of the National Guard. They all play a very key role in maintaining strong national defense. Just as we should thank our military overseas and at home, we should also thank our first responders who protect our hometowns. Firefighters, police, health care personnel, they risk their lives every day and sacrifice precious time with their families every day to keep us safe from those who would try to do us harm. Their commitment and contributions to national security and homeland security should not be forgotten. We all salute their spirit.

I urge all Americans to pray for our troops, their families and our President, as we defend our Nation and the world from those who seek to do us harm.

I yield the floor.

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