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Mr. Speaker, the narrow issue is: More troops to the front, or not? Many here say ``no more troops,'' but what are the consequences for the troops on the ground without more aid? What will happen in and around Baghdad where those troops are supposed to be sent? Their mission there will be more difficult without more troops.
Does this Congress want to tell our troops on the ground, do your job with less, even though we have it in our power to send you aid?
Mr. Speaker, 171 years ago this month, a somewhat similar call for aid was made; and it, too, was refused.
In an old, beat-up Spanish mission in central Texas, Bexar, Texas, to be exact, 187 men from every State in the United States, 13 foreign countries, including Mexico, found themselves in a precarious situation. They were behind the walls facing an enemy. They needed help.
Texas politicians, even so-called military experts, had it within their power to send more troops. And for all the similar reasons that are mentioned here, including the troops shouldn't even be in the mission and the plan was a bad idea from its inception, this plan is not working, your troops there should even leave - for similar reasons we hear today, no help was sent.
The place, Mr. Speaker, was the Alamo, and the time was February 24, 1836. And behind the cold, damp walls of the Alamo, by candlelight, a 27-year-old lawyer, commander by the name of William Barrett Travis, wrote this letter. I read it today:
``To the people of Texas and all Americans in the world,
Fellow citizens and compatriots, I am besieged by a thousand or more of the enemy under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannon fire for over 24 hours, but I have not lost a man.
The flag still waves proudly over the north wall. The enemy has demanded surrender at its discretion. Otherwise, this fort will be put to the sword. I have answered that demand with a cannon shot. I shall never surrender or retreat.
I call upon you, in the name of liberty and patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to my aid with all dispatch. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself for as long as possible, die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his honor and that of his country. Victory or death.''
--William Barrett Travis, Commander of the Alamo.
Mr. Speaker, we know what happened at the Alamo. Those 187 men died because no help was sent. Later, Texans did provide troops and rallied and won independence from Mexico. But the answer then, as it has been in many wars in the past, is the answer now: More troops are necessary. We need to finish what we started. We need to do what it takes.
Now, Baghdad will be no Alamo. We cannot lose in Baghdad. But this body has it in its power to prevent a victory in Baghdad and Iraq.
So, Mr. Speaker, heed the warnings of the past, heed the history, and send aid with all dispatch.
And that's just the way it is.