Mr. Speaker, ``I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of officers appointed over me according to the regulations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.''
Each day, new Marines take this oath to serve and protect the United States and freedom-loving people. They live their lives by it, and they die by it.
Lance Corporal Anthony Aguirre dreamed his whole life of taking this oath and becoming a member of this elite fighting force. Anthony was from Channelview, Texas. At a young age, he knew he wanted to be a Marine. He felt so compelled to serve our country that he took every opportunity to become involved in any military program that he could find, like the Junior ROTC at Channelview High School.
When he was in the Junior ROTC, Anthony was the company commander. During his senior year in high school, he achieved the rank of cadet captain. Many of those who were involved with the ROTC with Anthony remember him as a patriot. He always had a sense of duty to this country. Even after graduation, Anthony often stopped by the high school to proudly talk with the Junior ROTC cadets about the Marines. According to the ROTC instructor, Anthony wanted to be a Marine because he thought it was the toughest of military U.S. services.
Lance Corporal Aguirre joined the United States Marine Corps 1 year after graduating from Channelview High School and became a member of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force in Hawaii.
His sister, Christine, said that Anthony thought of doing nothing else with his life but being in the Marine Corps. So Anthony Aguirre joined the United States Marine Corps. He served our country in Iraq, but he met a warrior's fate a few days ago. This is a photograph of Anthony Aguirre. Anthony was killed in Iraq, and the funeral for him was today.
Let me tell you a little bit about the funeral, Mr. Speaker. As the funeral procession passed through the streets of Channelview, estimates were that over 8,000 people were there from the schools, the local refineries, the fire department and the neighborhoods. They stood on the side of the road for miles waving American flags for this Marine.
Anthony Aguirre was buried today in Highlands, Texas. The high school flag was flown at half mast in his honor, and later the flag was given to his sister, Christine Castillo, and his brother, Earnesto Salinas. Tony had numerous other siblings and cousins.
Now I want to tell you how he died, Mr. Speaker. On February 26, 2007, at the age of 20, in an act of fearless courage, LCpl Aguirre put his life on the line for his brothers in arms. And while fighting the forces of evil in Al Anbar Province in Iraq, Anthony stepped on an improvised explosive device. IEDs, as they are called, are a coward's way of killing U.S. soldiers, women, children and the elderly.
But he didn't immediately jump, as would be a reflection or a reaction for most of us. He kept his foot on the IED and he told the other 20 Marines standing around him to clear the area and take cover. When he saw that they were out of harm's way, he took his foot off the device. He gave his life so that other Marines could live.
When this group of Marines reported back to their commander, they told him that Tony had just saved their lives. The commander immediately knew they were referring to LCpl Anthony Aguirre.
Amazing men, these young guns of the Marine Corps of today.
On a road called Crosby-Lynchburg in my district, there are flags mounted along this rural road in honor of the brave life of Lance Corporal Aguirre. And as the community laid another one of America's sons to rest today, the catalog of history is etched with another name of an extraordinary Texas hero and Marine.
Lance Corporal Aguirre died as he lived, for the Marines, for his brothers in arms.
Shakespeare put it best in Henry V when he echoes Aguirre's commitment to fellow warriors. He says, From this day to the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
We shall remember Lance Corporal Aguirre.
Semper Fi, Lance Corporal Aguirre. Semper Fi.
And that's just the way it is.