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Rahall Hosts West Virginia Honor Flight Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) hosted thirty-one distinguished West Virginia Veterans and their guardians – the state’s first Honor Flight -- at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
“Welcome to YOUR Nation’s Capitol, and I do mean YOUR Capitol, because without you and your service to our nation, this old capitol just might not be here,” said Rahall, a senior member of the House Military Veterans Caucus, in the historic conference room of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer packed with the Veterans, their guardians, support staff and active duty officers from all U.S. military branches of service. “For your service, we, as a nation, can never repay pay you, but I have to say, we darn well better never quit trying to honor you in our thoughts and prayers AND deeds.”
In remarks delivered at the opening of the meeting, Rahall paid tribute to West Virginians who have consistently been among the first to answer the nation’s call to duty. “From towns born of mining, to our state born of war, to a nation under God, each of West Virginia’s Veterans symbolizes the depth of human giving and the height of divine compassion. One word best describes what you did: sacrifice,” said Rahall.
Rahall presented each veteran with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition, along with a U.S. flag.
Below are Rahall’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Welcome to YOUR Nation’s Capitol, and I do mean YOUR Capitol, because without you and your service to our nation, this old capitol just might not be here.
I know later this morning you’ll be visiting the World War II, Korean and Vietnam Veterans memorials. When you are at the Korean War Memorial, you will see the words chiseled in the granite wall there, “Freedom is not free.” Truer words were never uttered.
And, for your service, we, as a nation, can never repay pay you, but I have to say, we darn well better never quit trying to honor you in our thoughts and prayers AND deeds.
The Honor Flight is a measure of what your service has meant to those who freely contribute to keep these missions of lasting memories for you going. We salute all those who contribute and help organize them.
And it’s up to those of us in the public sector to stand firm in our Nation’s commitment to your long term health care and other benefits.
From towns born of mining, to our state born of war, to a nation under God, each of West Virginia’s Veterans symbolizes the depth of human giving and the height of divine compassion. One word best describes what you did: sacrifice.
What you, and those who served with you, sacrificed is reflected in the white and black granite of our war memorials. They serve as timeless reminders to all who pass their way that we must always remember and honor those who stood in harm’s way so that freedom’s light could continue to shine.
Every time a Veteran steps foot on the grounds of one of the war memorials, you pay honor all who did not live to see it. And your visit adds a living testament to the memorial’s significance, when you return home and tell your family and friends about the experience.
You defended our Nation under the banner of red, white and blue; and on behalf of a grateful nation, I would like to present each of you our country’s colors, Old Glory, to take home with you.
May God always bless our Nation with men and women like you. Thank you for your service.
PHOTO CAPTION: Rep. Rahall presents World War II Veteran Andrew Semonco of Bluefield, W.Va. with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition during the Congressman’s meeting with the West Virginia Always Free Honor Flight.