CONGRESSIONAL RECORD STATEMENT
Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
May 26, 2005
Memorial Day 2005
Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I rise to recognize the significance of Memorial Day ? and to remember the Americans it commemorates. In just a few days, we will come together as a nation to pay tribute to the courageous men and women who fought and died for our country. Too often we take for granted the freedoms we as Americans enjoy ? too often we forget those who gave their lives to secure this liberty.
America has honored its fallen soldiers with a Memorial Day, sometimes called Decoration Day, since the Civil War. Though we are grateful to these heroes each and every day, it was recognized that we should set aside one day in particular, the last Monday in May, to be especially mindful of the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who paid the ultimate price for their fellow citizens.
During a time when we continue to lose more of our friends, family, and neighbors in combat overseas, I am especially mindful of the sacrifices made by our men and women in the military. I served in World War II, and I have seen first-hand the bravery and selflessness that is a common thread in our military personnel. Though I was lucky enough to return home, not a day passes when I do not think of my comrades who were not as fortunate, and I am eternally grateful to them.
On this earnest occasion, I would like to draw attention to what we can do for those veteran soldiers still with us so that we do not disrespect the sacrifices made by those we have lost. We must provide full funding for veterans health care. Every year the President sends forward his budget proposal to Congress, and every year we go through the same struggle to get VA health care the money it needs to adequately serve its veteran patients. We must change the way funds are allocated so that all of our veterans are guaranteed the care they so clearly deserve.
I want the115,000 veterans who choose to make Hawaii their home to be assured that they will receive the services they have earned. The nearly 18,000 veterans who avail themselves of VA health care on Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai, and Maui should not have to worry if resources for doctors and nurses will materialize next year. The Reservists and Guardsmen who are deployed for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also must receive the care they need upon their return. And, Mr. President, the fact that a whole population veterans is denied care because VA does not have adequate funding is shameful.
Memorial Day is a day of both sorrow and joy. We mourn those we have lost in battle, and we celebrate the freedoms we currently enjoy thanks to those brave individuals. As we gather together over the long weekend to celebrate this important holiday, let us make sure to take a moment to remember and thank those who lost their lives in order to secure our futures. Then, for the rest of our tenure in Congress, let us not waiver from the commitments made to these brave men and women in terms of programs, services, and benefits.