In 1944, this 18-year-old country boy who had never been more than 50 miles from home finally found himself going through basic training for the United States Army at Camp Walters in Camp Walters, Texas. After that he rode the train with hundreds of other young teenage American males to New York City for the ocean trip on a cramped Liberty ship to fight in the great World War II.
As a soldier in the 7th Army, he went from France on to survive the Battle of the Bulge and through the cities of Aachen, Stuttgart, Cologne, Bonn and others. He thought General Patton was the greatest soldier that ever lived, and as a teenager, this young soldier saw the concentration camps and the victims of the Nazis. He saw incredible numbers of other teenage Americans buried in graves throughout France. One monument to those soldiers is on the cliffs at a place called Normandy.
After Germany surrendered, he went back to Ft. Hood, Texas, expecting to be reequipped for the land invasion of Japan. It was there he met his wife at a Wednesday-night prayer meeting service at church.
Until a few years ago, this GI would never talk about World War II, and he still will not say much except he does say that heroes are the ones that are buried in Europe today.
After the war, he opened a DX service station where he pumped gas, sold tires, fixed cars and began a family. Deciding he needed to go to college, he moved to west Texas and enrolled in a small Christian college called Abilene Christian College. He and his wife and his two small children lived in an old converted Army barracks with other such families. He supported his family by working nights at KRBC radio and climbing telephone poles for Ma Bell, later called Southwestern Bell.
He finished college, became an engineer and worked 40-plus years for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Houston, Texas. He turned down a promotion and a transfer to New York City because it was not Texas, and he said it was no place to raise a family.
This GI, my dad, instilled in my sister and me the values of being a neighbor to all, loving our country, loving our heritage and always just doing the right thing by all people.
He still gets mad at the Northeastern media. He flies the flag on holidays. He goes to church on Sunday, and he takes Mom out to eat every Friday night. He stands in the front yard, and he talks to his neighbors. He can fix anything. He knows more about world events than most politicians. He still mows his own grass, even though he's over 80 years of age, and he has a strong opinion on politics and world issues. He gives plenty of advice to all people, including me. He has two computers in his home office. He sends e-mails to hundreds of his buddies throughout the world.
Dad and Mom still live in Houston not far from where I grew up. My dad is a charter member of the Greatest Generation. He was proud to be in the United States Army, but he, like many Americans of that generation, get emotional about the ones who died for this Nation.
Mr. Speaker, not far from this Capitol is the World War II memorial that honors those who never returned from Europe, Africa, the South Pacific in the great World War II. This memorial lists the battles, the names, and the States and the territories where those warriors called home. In the back of this memorial is a massive bronze-looking plate, but on closer inspection, Mr. Speaker, it's not a bronze plate at all. It's actually 1,000 bronze stars. Each star represents 400 Americans killed for our country in World War II, 400,000 Americans, mostly kids in their teens and in their early twenties who gave their youth for our future. Further down the Mall are the memorials for Vietnam and Korea, and in the brush is the World War I memorial that is hidden among the trees.
So today, Mr. Speaker, as we approach Memorial Day to honor those who have fought in the great World War II, and all American wars, we honor not only my dad and those who returned in victory, but also, we honor all those American heroes who never returned and for whom the bugles have played Taps for the last time.
And that's just the way it is.