Mr. Speaker, a National Guard unit is coming back to Texas, because tomorrow, Saturday, December 17, the First Battalion, 133rd field artillery will be welcomed back to Beaumont, Texas, after serving the past year in Iraq.

In August 2004, the Texas Army National Guard deployed the 56th Brigade Combat Team of the 36th Infantry Division to go to Iraq. They trained for 4 months in Ft. Hood, Texas, and got to Iraq in December of 2004. The 133rd Field Artillery has a longstanding history in this country. This was the first and famous Texas Army National Guard that served in France in World War I.

General John J. Pershing, the commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I made this comment about those Texans in World War I: He said, the bearing of the division in this its very first experience in battle showed the mettle of the officers and men and gave promise of what it would become. Members of this division who returned home can be proud of the record of their services.

Mr. Speaker, this was the first American combat unit to land in Europe in World War II. They landed on the beaches of Italy during World War II. They liberated Rome, then they went and landed on the beaches of France, went on to free the hostages of the concentration camps of Dachau, Germany.

Probably the most famous member of the 36th Texas is a person by the name of Audie Murphy. You may remember him, Mr. Speaker; he is from Hunt, Texas. And when he was a youngster, he joined the Army, the Army National Guard of Texas and became the first decorated soldier in the history of the American Army, winning among many other things the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And yet, the Texas 36th has continued that longstanding tradition in Iraq where they conducted offensive operations, deny and destroy operations, combat logistic patrols and civil military affair operations.

They built schools and hospitals and won the hearts of the Iraqi kids that they met along the way. They operated in the Sunni Triangle, Tikrit, Tillal, on the Jordanian border and in Bagdad. It is my pleasure to welcome them back when they come back home tomorrow.

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the members of the 133rd, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. They honor us with their commitment to Texas and the Nation, and the citizens of America and Iraq owe them a debt of gratitude. They are America's best. They are the sons and daughters of liberty. They are freedom fighters, and they make us proud.

I join the citizens of Texas Congressional District number two in paying the utmost respect for the 1st Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery. Through their service, Iraq has become a free democracy, and America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Mr. Speaker, I had the chance in January of this year to go to Iraq to visit the very first elections, and I, with our military, and saw firsthand the accomplishments in their fight for freedom. You know, Mr. Speaker, freedom does have a price. Our troops are paying that sacrificial price for the Iraqi people and for world freedom. Unfortunately, the 133rd lost six members during their fight for freedom, and I extend my prayers and our condolences to the family and friends. They were making a difference in the world when they gave their lives.

Their bravery and dedication and patriotism shall not be forgotten. That success is evident with the successful election of a new government in Iraq yesterday. President John Kennedy once said: The cost of freedom is always high. But Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.

Mr. Speaker, we have chosen the right path. The hard path. The freedom path. We will persevere with the freedom-loving people of Iraq until the journey down this path is successfully completed.

The citizen soldiers of America, the Texas Army National Guard, have been warriors on the long hard sacrificial path of liberty. The world should never underestimate the resolve of America, the resolve and determination and will of the American soldier. Regardless of their mission for freedom, they always get it done. That is just the way it is.