Mr. Speaker, when the world is in trouble, they look to Americans for help. One of my constituents, Mr. Victor Lovelady, heard this cry while working in Algeria and sacrificed his life to answer it.
Victor embodied the very best of the American spirit. He was brave, compassionate, and in the face of great danger made the decision to help and protect others instead of himself. Courage like this should be applauded. That is why this week I nominated Mr. Lovelady for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is our nation's highest civilian honor and recognizes individuals who have made ``an especially meritorious contribution'' to our society. It is clear to me that Victor Lovelady not only meets, but exceeds this standard.
Like many Americans, Victor Lovelady was a hard worker who put in long hours to provide for his family of four. As an industrial engineer and master electrician, he worked most of his life in his hometown of Nederland, Texas. Later he moved down the street from me in Atascocita, Texas. However, when work in his area slowed, he traveled back and forth to Houston daily for almost three years so that his children would not have to change schools. Victor never had a pension plan and always had to pay his family's insurance by himself. He never had more than two weeks off in a year. He longed to be able to retire and spend more time with his wife and children.
When the opportunity to work overseas for British Petroleum arose, Victor weighed the pros and cons. He knew that if he did this job for a few years, he would be able to make enough money to retire and be with his family. He was also assured that it would be a safe place to work.
On January 9, 2013, Victor arrived in In Amenas, Algeria to begin his new job at the BP Gas facility. On the morning of January 16, Victor and several other workers were in the cantina having tea when a colleague walked in with a gunshot wound to his stomach. Mokhtar Belmokhtar's al Qaeda linked terrorists had stormed their facility and were indiscriminately killing innocent employees.
Thinking quickly, Victor began to clean and dress the man's wound as the sound of gunshots grew louder and louder. After he bandaged the man and hid him in a food container, Victor began helping the other men with him hide in the cantina's false ceiling, lifting them up so they could climb in. In total, Victor propelled three men into the hiding spot. Only when it sounded like the terrorists had entered the cantina did Victor try to save himself. Unfortunately, when attempting to climb into the ceiling, he fell and injured his ankle. Moments later, the terrorists found him and led him away.
Victor's selfless and heroic actions saved four lives that day. This entire ordeal was witnessed and recounted to me by one of the men he helped protect. Sadly, Victor was killed the next day when Algerian, military forces attacked the convoy in which he was being held hostage.
Victor Lovelady may not be a household name, but there is no doubt that his contribution meets the Presidential Medal of Freedom's high standards. He worked hard to provide an honest living for his family and when in danger, thought first to protect others instead of himself. When his brother Michael testified about Victor's heroics before my subcommittee in July, there was not a dry eye in the house. Everyone who hears Victor's story is inspired to act with courage, conviction, and compassion--in other words, to act as a true American.
Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you and all of our colleagues are as touched by Victor's story as I am. He was a great man and his legacy will continue through his wife, Maureen, and his two children, Erin and Grant. I am honored to call this man and his family my constituents and will continue to fight to honor the legacy of their courageous husband and father.
And that's just the way it is.