7:30 PM EDT
Bob Filner, D-CA 51st

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of House Resolution 1291, which comes to us courtesy of Mr. Rodriguez from Texas. I just want to point out that what we are doing here is expressing the gratitude for the contributions of the American GI Forum as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. We all know that the GI Bill of 1944 made an immense impact on the lives of returning veterans by guaranteeing educational, medical, housing, and other basic benefits.

Though this legislation was groundbreaking, it takes much more than words on paper to ensure that institutional goals are implemented. One man who understood this was Army Major Hector Garcia, who realized that the disparate treatment and denial of benefits to many Hispanic veterans must be ended. To carry out this purpose, he inspired to rally around him a group of fellow veterans who formed the American GI Forum.

Their motto is, ``Education is our Freedom and Freedom Should be Everybody's Business.'' The ideals which they stand for, equal education opportunities, equal economic opportunities, equal justice under the law, and equal political opportunities are ingrained in the fabric of American values. Since its inception, branches around the country have reached milestones in veterans' issues, in education, and civil rights.

Knowing the effects of unequal treatment, Army Major Garcia devoted himself to standing up for the isolated Hispanic members of our veteran community. We are happy to honor the organization he founded. We look forward to working with them for the common good and welfare of veterans for many years to come.

The broad-ranging and comprehensive initiatives which the GI Forum has undertaken over the last 60 years include the cofounding of SER-Jobs for Progress, Incorporated, a top-10 national Hispanic nonprofit organization, and the National Veterans Outreach Program, which is designed to assist military veterans in securing affordable housing and provides counseling and employment assistance services.

It is not the years though, however, that the GI Forum has existed, but how much it has accomplished that indicates their impact and why we are honoring them today. Leaders of the forum, from Army Major Garcia, on to the current president, Antonio Gil Morales, have an irrepressible spirit and a dynamic energy, using their benefit for the benefit of others.

Today, the GI Forum continues to challenge disparate policies on behalf of Hispanic veterans by challenging barriers and enhancing understanding. For their support of all veterans, specifically Hispanic veterans, and their leadership in being a beacon of hope and an avenue of involvement for returning veterans and ordinary citizens aspiring to improve conditions within their communities, we take the occasion of the 60th anniversary of their founding to recognize the GI Forum with this resolution

as evidence of the high esteem in which it's held by all its members.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.