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Rep. Armey Addresses House of Representatives


Mr. ARMEY. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) for yielding me this time, and I thank both him and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) for your leadership on the floor during this debate.

I would like to thank, Mr. Speaker, all my colleagues, all these Members of this House of Representatives. Today I have had a rare opportunity. I had an opportunity to listen to most of the speeches, and it was a good debate about a serious subject. Mr. Speaker, this is a serious moment for each and every one of us, and you can see it weighing in our hearts.

Every now and then, Mr. Speaker, we are called upon to understand and reach deep into our hearts and minds to understand who we are as a Nation. I have seen it before my eyes in all the scenes we have seen described here tonight and the horror of the attack and the splendor of our heroic response. Even in the most brief circumstances, with our hearts broken, we reached out to help others across this land.

I think, Mr. Speaker, there is one phrase from our sacred documents that tells us who we are, why are we here, why did we come to this land from all other this world, with all our different creeds, denominations, Nations of origin, nationalities.

We came here in search of one thing. We came here to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. That is what we wanted. We have had to struggle too many times, Mr. Speaker, in the history of this great world as we have tried to play out that wonderful drama as a marvelous experiment in the history of the world. We have had to struggle against our own imperfections and there has been hurt; and we tried to overcome that hurt.

On so many other occasions we have been called upon to struggle for the freedom that we love so much against the enemies of freedom. Even in the beginning of this great Nation, with the minutemen, we took to our muskets to win our freedom. And another time we fought with one another, and just about lost the greatness of this Nation and we brought it back together.

But for the most part, Mr. Speaker, we have had to spend our young men and women in the defense of freedom for other people, and I always admired us so much for that. 

What Nation ever in the history of the world has so much loved freedom that they spent their own peace to defend the freedom of people other than themselves? That is to be known, that is to be respected, that is to be cherished, if only by ourselves.

And now we are challenged again. Why do they challenge us? What do they seek to achieve? Are they wanting to change our commitment to freedom across the globe? Do they think we are a bother to them as they try to suppress other people and deny them their rights? A great Nation does not change the course of its policies towards other nations and other people because of the cruel, inhumane acts of terrorism by barbaric people who do not understand respect. We will not change who we are and what we stand for in this world and who we have been and what we have stood for in this world because of this.

I am told that in some instances, with some of these people, they hate our religion. We only ask that we all gather together and give respect for one another in our religious beliefs. We try to do that for others, and I believe as a Nation we do it well. Not perfect, but well. And we work so hard at doing that for others we require that it be the same for us.

Tonight, we have gathered here to discuss something, and I have heard so many of my colleagues in this body say it, it is something we do not want to do, to join again in authorization with our President, the commander in chief of the United States of America, to commit our young men and women in uniform to the field of danger in the defense of freedom. A simple thing, done over and over and over again.

We have been reminded by others, some of us, of the costs we might expect these young men and women to pay, the costs that have been paid by the heroes we have talked about in this debate. This will not come cheap. There will be mamas and daddies with broken hearts with the loss of the most precious gift the good Lord has ever given them: their children.

But when mothers and fathers in this great land lend their children to the cause of freedom, they do just that. We do not commit our children for frivolous reasons to fields of danger. This is not about revenge. It is not in our heart. We are a good Nation. We are a kind Nation. We will forgive our enemies in victory; and we struggle to forgive ourselves for our imperfections, but we do not commit our children to acts of vengeance.

We do not cheapen the heroism of our great American heroes with the quest of territory or the thought of dominance of other people. We will spend our heroes only for freedom, decency and respect; for the right to live an ordinary mundane everyday life, to go to work and be left alone, to do our bit and share with others, to hold our children and put them to bed at night with a very simple little kiss on the cheek and a very soft little assurance: sleep safely, my darling, for you are in America and you are free and you are safe and our heroes have made it so for you.

Mr. Speaker, let us vote for this resolution. Let us take this harsh task. Let us ask our young men and women once more in America to go out and be the sensational heroes at risk that they never wanted to be and, bless our hearts, that we never wanted them to have to be. Let us get this done. Let us remove this blight on the world. And, Mr. Speaker, let us have the blessings of liberty for ourselves, but oh so much more importantly, for our posterity.


The text above are words  spoken on the floor of the US house of representatives by Richard K. Armey, House majority leader and representative of the 26th congressional district of Texas.  I felt a need to share this with you.  This is why we go to battle. 


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