Good morning. I am Dan Inouye, United States Senator from the State of Hawaii.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
I was a teenager living in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was attacked. And, as soon as I could, I joined the Army, and went to Europe to join the fight.
I still remember the day I left.
I was with my father, and we rode together in a streetcar to the drop-off point. As we approached the point of departure, he cleared his throat and simply said: 'This country has been good to us. We owe much to this country, and if you must give your life for it, do so with honor.'
More than 400,000 did die with honor. And those who came home returned to a country that honored its commitment to them.
We received health care, money for college, help buying homes, and job training. And much of this thanks to the GI Bill. The bill provided assistance worthy of our service. And it is recognized as one of the greatest achievements of the United States Congress. In 2005, American soldiers are once again fighting overseas. Their sacrifice equals that of the soldiers who fought in World War II. But the support they are getting from Republicans does not.
For example, this past week was to be an important one in the United States Senate.Senators on both sides of the aisle were set to talk about getting our troops the resources they need, funding veterans health care in the years to come, and strengthening our national defense at a time of war.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans had a different idea.
Instead of taking time for this important debate, they set the discussions aside - put our veterans on hold - and took up the business of the gun lobby.
For years, we've heard the President and Congressional Republicans speak eloquently about honoring our troops. But this week - when push came to shove - their priorities were different.
They found time for special interests, but not an extra day or an hour for our troops.
And when it came to helping our National Guard troops, they found something they thought was better to do.
I lost my right arm while fighting in combat in April of 1945. But I came home to the finest health care this nation could provide. For nearly two years, doctors and nurses took care of me and made certain I was ready to go back into the world.
But today, because of budget cuts and a lack of funds, a soldier with a similar injury would be discharged in less than a year because he has no rehabilitation work. This is a problem we need to address - not one to sweep under the rug and put off for weeks.
At a time of war, we believe nothing is more important than this country's national defense, and honoring the sacrifice of our troops and their families. That's why we will continue to push in the months ahead.Our men and women who have served should not worry about funding for health care year after year, and our soldiers on the front lines should get the resources they need. Our Congress should consider our men and our women in uniform as our nation's top priority.
In 1944, Democrats and Republicans passed the GI Bill without dissent, and did so in less than three months. Our troops today deserve this same support - and they should get nothing less.
This is Dan Inouye, and thank you for listening. Aloha.