Skip to content

Madam President, this past week has been a very memorable and inspirational and overdue time for all of us to come together as a nation and dedicate the World War II Memorial and recognize the efforts of our Nation's veterans in one of the fiercest wars in our Nation's history.

As we did, many of us took a moment to remember the events of those days and how they affected us and, more importantly, how they affected the people in our lives who played an important part in that war effort.

I had a special opportunity to remember my dad, Elmer Enzi, who served in the war, and my uncle Edward Curtis and my uncle Edmund Wally Enzi who played a part in that war.

For many of us, those days are forever etched in our minds because they had an impact on us and our families and friends that will never be erased or forgotten. But it is nothing like the memory of those who actually participated.

We have the opportunity to honor the Senators who are with us today in this great body who played a part in that war. We have mentioned them, their achievements.

I want to refer to a piece that was on Channel 1, which is an educational channel that goes to the schools every morning. They have seen these World War II events being dedicated and the people who came to those events. Each time there is one of those events, the people who come are a little bit older. They found out the kids of this country were getting kind of a false impression of who fought the war, so they put out a special piece that would be dedicated to these great men who serve in our Chamber. The title of it was: ``The Kids Who Saved the World.'' They showed the people coming to the reunions, but then they shifted back to the pictures of these people as they served. It made a much greater identification for the kids across this country that the patriots, the ones who put their lives on the line, were not much older than the kids in school watching this Channel 1.

I thank Senator DANIEL AKAKA, SENATOR FRITZ HOLLINGS, SENATOR DANIEL INOUYE, SENATOR FRANK LAUTENBERG, SENATOR TED STEVENS, and Senator JOHN WARNER for being those "kids who saved the world" and allowing us to be here in this forum today.

For us, as Americans, our World War II story begins on December 7, 1941, a date President Franklin D. Roosevelt told us would live in infamy, as Japan suddenly and deliberately attacked the United States of America.

The next day, the President reassured a fearful nation that the attack on Pearl Harbor would not stand and that all our resources would be brought to bear on ridding the world of the terrible menace that was threatening the future peace and security of the United States and Europe.

In the years that followed, the United States put forth an effort to combat evil that had never been seen before. Sixteen million served in our armed forces and a united America gladly did everything that could possibly be done to support the war effort back home. The United States was fully committed to the cause at hand and no price was too great, no sacrifice too burdensome, and no hardship too severe, if it meant victory overseas.

The World War II Memorial on the Mall commemorates the sacrifices of those sixteen million veterans who served with pride and patriotism during World War II. It also honors and recognizes the millions more who supported the war cause back home. For without the efforts of our troops on the front lines and the support and encouragement of family and friends back home we would have never been successful. Thanks to all of them, we succeeded beyond our greatest expectations. This was truly a time when we knew there was no option but complete and total victory and we refused to consider any other option – regardless of the cost.

When President Roosevelt made the call for recruits it was answered in unprecedented fashion. The sixteen million Americans who reported for duty made it clear that they would pay any price to defend the freedoms and liberties of our own nation. They also committed themselves to the liberation of Europe and the preservation of liberty there and in many other parts of the world.

They were just average Americans from small towns and large, from small states and large, who were caught up in a cause greater than themselves. They soon showed themselves to be the greatest weapon ever known in the history of warfare – the American armed forces. They were sent to far away places with strange sounding names, as the song goes, and they probably never imagined there was anything special about them. Heroes? They probably never thought of themselves that way, but for those who read about their exploits, and for those of us who now live with the freedom their blood, sweat and tears provided, we cannot think of them any other way.

They were young men and women, called to attempt the impossible, knowing the odds were against them, and still they tried, because they believed in our country and the principles we hold dear as a nation.

We have several World War II veterans serving with us here in the Senate, with several more serving in the House. Their commitment to country and duty which began so many years ago continues today in the Congress.

Senator Daniel Akaka, Senator Fritz Hollings, Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Ted Stevens, and Senator John Warner represent in a special way all of those who served with distinction and honor during those days. They are our link with the past, a past that has made our present possible.

What they achieved, along with all those who served with them, is best seen in the words that have been posted on several Internet sites, attributed by some to Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC,

It is the soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us freedom to demonstrate.

It is the solider, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the solider who salutes the flag,
Who serves under the flag and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

This is the legacy our veterans have left us and it reflects the debt we owe them all. They are – and they always have been – the force that guarantees our Bill of Rights. They are – and have been – the force that stands guard around the world, vigilant and watchful, while we sleep. They are the ones for whom love of country are not just words, they are a way of life.

In the years to come, the Memorial on the Mall will serve as a constant reminder that freedom isn't free and that it comes at a great price. More than 400,000 American lives were lost in World War II and many more were wounded in battles all over the world. They will be remembered there. The Memorial will also serve as a symbol of the heartfelt dedication and total commitment that was needed to put an end to the tyranny that threatened to ensnare the world around us. It was an effort that we pray will never have to be duplicated.

We take great pride in our nation's veterans because they are our greatest American heroes. They were as one, willing to sacrifice all their tomorrows to ensure we would live in freedom today. Our way of life is their legacy, their gift to us all. God bless them all, our nation's heroes, our nation's veterans.