7:46 PM EDT
Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Filner, for constantly coming down on the side of veterans, and my good friend and colleague, Congressman Rodriguez, who eloquently articulated the importance of the GI Forum on its 60th anniversary. Let me thank the ranking member for participating in this debate, and commend my colleagues to this important resolution.

I would just speak briefly of the GI Forum, that I saw just recently in a Judiciary Committee hearing, looking at the treatment of some of our soldiers who are not yet citizens, and how the burden falls on their shoulders, even though they are on the front lines of fighting for our freedom. So we do know there are inequities. But we appreciate the GI Forum for its leadership over the years, and clearly its founding member, who worked so hard and certainly is someone renowned and respected in


So let me briefly congratulate the GI Forum in its 60th year, and commend my colleagues to reading about Army Major Hector P. Garcia, who we honored just a few weeks ago by naming the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and then recently reauthorized after Mr. Garcia.

One item that comes to mind is that he moved the GI Forum, after being recognized by Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Reagan as President, and former President Clinton, for his service, he began to move the GI Forum towards civil rights. He questioned some of the inequities, and used this organization with its mighty might of returning veterans to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. They did fight for education and civil rights and good health care.

One of the stories that he is well-known for is the story recounted by my good friend from Texas of the soldier who came home from World War II and was not able to be buried in a South Texas funeral home. He thought that to be an unfortunate set of circumstances, and he called then President of the United States and moved this soldier from South Texas to be ultimately buried in the Arlington Cemetery.

So that is the standard of the GI Forum. It is a helping hand for veterans. It is a respected, renowned, national organization, full of patriots who understand as they fought for freedom on the battlefields across the world that they would also fight for freedom here in the United States.

Let me applaud the Veterans Committee and my good friend Congressman Rodriguez for this very astute legislation, recognition of a valid civil rights organization, the GI Forum, and ask my colleagues to vote for this.