Friday, January 5, 2007

In December 2005, Staff Sergeant Reynolds was deployed to Iraq, worlds away, but he remained a constant presence in the life of his family and all of his friends. He sent out cards and letters, constantly reminding his fiancee of their New Year's Eve wedding date. During the next 10 months, assigned to the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Staff Sergeant Reynolds dodged bullets, IEDs, and Iraqi outlaws throughout the Baghdad desert.

But on September 26, less than 2 months from coming home to Texas, Staff Sergeant Reynolds and a fellow soldier were crossing a Baghdad bridge in a military convoy when that bridge collapsed, plunging their vehicle underwater, trapping both soldiers inside. 27-year-old Staff Sergeant Reynolds and his colleague were killed in action, becoming victims in the struggle for Iraqi freedom.

A decorated soldier, Staff Sergeant Reynolds was the recipient of the Combat Infantry Badge, the Kosovo Campaign Medal. He was also awarded the Iraqi Combat Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Bronze Star. He was a lifelong member of the Borden Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. And like his mother and father, Staff Sergeant Reynolds had a devout faith in his Almighty God, believing that everything he was given was a gift by Him.

On October 7, the Borden Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas, and the Reverend Airon Reynolds, Jr., gave this brave soldier a hero's memorial and homecoming. Family and friends were not the only ones who memorialized and honored Staff Sergeant Reynolds. The Patriot Guard Riders and the Southeast Texas Veterans Service thanked him for his valor. More than 200 Patriot Guard Riders, with flags of tribute raised, stood in honor of Staff Sergeant Reynolds, the son of Texas, an American soldier, as he reached his eternal resting place.

Mr. Speaker, I have a photograph of Sergeant Reynolds, the way that he was when he was protecting freedom across the desert sands of Iraq. American citizens are born into the privilege of freedom, and we must remember that the sacrifice given by Staff Sergeant Reynolds and all American warriors is responsible for the continuation of this great Nation.

Staff Sergeant Reynolds chose to protect the freedom that he was born into from the violent militants robbing nations of life and liberty. So God bless Staff Sergeant Reynolds and his family.

In the words of George Orwell: ``We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.''

And that's just the way it is.