Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip and a Bakersfield Republican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"This week, even as the dark skies have cleared above the American heartland, my heart is heavy for Oklahoma. As photos and videos are shown of the devastation, it is clear that no community can ever mentally prepare for these devastating tragedies when they arrive at your doorstep. Please consider
"We also cannot forget that this weekend is Memorial Day weekend. A year ago this month, I watched 101-year-old veteran Louis Kerker lay a wreath at the California pillar of the World War II Memorial, in tribute to those who did not return home, on the very first Kern County Honor Flight over Memorial Day weekend. While three more Honor Flights trips have been made since then and more are being planned, sadly we have lost several of those brave local veterans in our community, including Louis. Seeing these men and women on the floor of the House of Representatives - where President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of the “day that will live in infamy” in 1941 – and watching tourists and onlookers erupt into a thunderous applause for them in the Capitol continues to remind me that Americans will never forget the sacrifices of brave generations past and present that guard our nation’s freedoms.
"These experiences are both joyful and solemn as these landmarks serve not only as a sign of respect and gratitude to veterans, but also as a sobering reminder of their fellow patriots who did not live to see these monuments erected in their honor. Whether the Revolutionary War or the current War in Afghanistan, today we remember the heroic Americans who, in the face of danger, selflessly came forward, risked, and made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our freedom. These men and women represent the very best of our nation. These men and women are the reason America remains a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world today.
"On Memorial Day, as we ought to every day, we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberty, and honor their memory by showing our gratitude to the veterans who fought alongside them. Thank those who are serving today and take some time to help the families in our communities with loved ones serving in harm’s way. I encourage everyone this Memorial Day to pay respect to our fallen heroes who lay at rest at the Bakersfield National Cemetery and at our local cemeteries throughout our community. These individuals served and sacrificed for our great nation, and they will never be forgotten.
"I will continue to fight in Congress to ensure that our veterans have access to the care and benefits they deserve in a timely manner. In addition to requesting the Government Accountability Office conduct audits on unacceptable backlogs and wait times at Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) medical facilities in California and across the country, I remain committed to holding VA officials accountable for fixing the culture of dysfunction that is failing our veterans. That is why I recently authored legislation designed to enact GAO’s recommendations to correct the disability claims backlog problem – no excuses. I will not stop fighting until our veterans see real results from the VA.
"It is said that one of the reasons Memorial Day falls on the last Monday in May is because this time of year, the flowers are in full bloom. Those flowers signify the continued life and growth of the American spirit, and we must always remember what has allowed that spirit to endure for generations upon generations, protecting the longest surviving Constitution in the world today. It is the American people. It is the American serviceman and servicewoman. Even as the strength of our nation is tested, their unbreakable spirit and fortitude even in the toughest battles remains proof that the guardians of our freedoms and liberties, since the first day of our nation’s founding to today, are the courageous citizen-soldiers that answer the call of their nation. Let us always remember the sacrifices that our countrymen have made to keep us free, strong and united.