WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today at a “Rally for the Troops” in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol (as prepared for delivery):
“Our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, once remarked: “while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake and often yields it up in his country’s cause.”
“Today, we honor the bravery and sacrifice of our nation’s armed forces who are putting their lives at stake half a world a way. And we say: your cause is noble and just. You are disarming a dangerous despot and ending his ruthless regime. You are liberating a proud people, who have toiled under the boot of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen for far too long. And you are strengthening the security of our nation, as well as the nations of the Middle East and the nations of the world.
“All the world is now witnessing in the streets of Baghdad what we have known all along: your mission was never one of conquest. Your mission was the defeat of a tyrant, the liberation of Iraq, and the expansion of universal values – freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law.
“We continue to pray for a quick conclusion to this war and for your safe return. And we say a special prayer for the American servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To their families and loved ones, please know that a grateful nation mourns your loss and shares your pain. Further, to the Americans who, like Pfc. Jessica Lynch, fell into enemy hands during this conflict and to those who are listed as missing, we offer this determined pledge: We will not relent, we will not rest until you are safely returned to the country that you call home, a home for the brave, the brave like you.
“Nearly thirty years ago, President Kennedy said: “a nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
“Today, of course, we also note the vast contributions, bravery and patriotism of our servicewomen. But President Kennedy’s point endures. Our brave servicemen and women are a testament to history’s eternal truth – freedom is not free – as well as its unforgiving lesson: the price that must be paid for freedom is always great.
“This generation of Americans, and future generations, are indeed blessed that when freedom’s call came, the finest, most professional, most skilled military in the history of the world answered. We will continue to be the land of the free as long as we are the home of the brave. May God continue to bless our country and our cause.”