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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Durbin on Veterans Day  CSPAN  November 11, 2017 5:50am-6:01am EST

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in honor of veterans day, vice president pence will head to arlington national cemetery to lay wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. he'll be there in place of president trump who is currently overseas. throughout the weak, we heard members of congress talking about veterans and their contributions. here's a look at what dick durbin had to say on thursday from the senate floor. >> mr. president, i would like to speak for a moment about the veterans day, which is just two days away. on saturday, the 11th of november, americans will honor the courage and sacrifice of veterans. more than 40 million have served our nation in uniform, from bunker hill, baghdad and beyond. i've been thinking about the words of one of those brave patriots, the son and grandson of military leaders. when his time came, he too went
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to war, and he suffered horrific deprivation and excruciating injuries. years later, he said few veterans chair a romantic remembrance of war. he said, a million tragedies ensue when wars are fought. war is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud can sentimentalize its cruel reality. those are words of a friend and colleague, john mccain. we owe him and all of our nation's veterans and families our profound gratitude and respect. senator mccain endured more than 5 1/2 years, 5 1/2 years of torture as a prisoner of war during the vietnam conflict. when he final hi came home, john mccain found another way to serve our nation with honor. we thank him for that. this week the united states
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congress dedicated a commemorative chair to honor all americans ever held as prisoners of war. the antique empty chair will stand in the capitol as a solemn reminder of these service members who were missing for years in captivity and those who remain missing today. as we prepare to celebrate veterans day, i want to tell you about another patriot, also a prisoner of war, his war world world war ii. he survived, came home, married, raised a family, and spent decades in pub hilic service. his name is richard lockhart. 93 years old, a lobbyist in springfield, illinois. dick lockhart represents the little guys, the public workers, and the families who need him among others.
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he's the senior practicing lobbyist in illinois. he'll be giving up that title soon, because on december 31, he's retiring at this age of 93, from the firm he founded 60 years ago. he still works seven days a week. he's still physically strong and sharp as a tack mentally. no, he's retiring because there are other things to do, he says. he wants to travel more and write the book he's always wanted to write. explaining to ordinary citizens how to make their government work better. dick's life would make a fascinating book itself. born in ohio in 1924, an only child, his family moved to indiana when he was young. the great depression hit the family hard. his dad lost his job. sometimes the electricity was shut off for nonpayment. the family never owned a car or took a vacation, never ate a
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meal in a restaurant. he delivered newspapers to help pay for expenses. he was a student at purdue when japan bombed pearl harbor. december 7, 1942, he enlisted in the u.s. army, assigned to the 106th division, the golden lions. in october of 1944, the 106th shipped out to england. in december, they arrived in a quiet area of southeastern belgium near the german border. military higher-ups assured the men to expect an uneventful uniques and germany would probably surrender before christmas. but german forces launched their last major offensive of the war, the battle of the bulge. the u.s. forces were outnumbered. his regiment, the 423rd, out of food, water, ammunition, they
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surrendered. in all, some 8,000 u.s. soldiers were captured at the battle of the bulge. packed into railroad boxcars, crammed in so tightly that soldiers had to take turns sitting and standing. two days they were in those boxcars, traveling to a prisoner of war camp to germany. catch life w camp life was brutal. meals consisted of thin grass soup. men dying every day. one bitterly cold day, he was beaten savagely by a german prison guard. decades later he still experiences back pain from that beating. one day the guards asked if there were any jewish prisoners of war and asked them to identify themselves. after more threats, jewish-american soldiers began to step forward, thinking their u.s. citizenship would protect them. they were wrong. they were shipped off to a
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notorious hard labor camp in another part of germany. on january 20th, 1945, dick lockhart turned 21 while a prisoner of war. on april 2, 1945, american soldiers liberated the camp and the prisoners. the army sent dick lockhart home on a 60-day furlough with instructions to get rest and gain back some weight. he arrived at home in ft. wayne, knocked at the door and stunned to see a stranger open the door. months before, his parents received a cable saying that their only child was missing in war and presumed dead. his mother, overcome with grief, went to ohio to stay with family. his father moved away to look for another factory job. fortunately, they left forwarding addresses and dick found them and reunited with his parents. a month hater, while still on leave, germany finally surrendered. the war was over.
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dick had always loved chicago, decided to use his gi bill to go to northwestern university. he became involved in politics, married, two children, a son and daughter. in 1958, he founded this lobbying firm to advance democracy through good policy and law rather than tanks and bomb. he's honest, hardworking, h mod, he's earned the respect of both sides of the aisle. laws he's helped to pass have made lives better for countless people. the illinois general assembly voted to celebrate december 31st, dick's last day on the job, as richard dick lockhart day in the state of illinois. five weeks after he was captured, american forces won the battle of bulge, and sent the german troops back to
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germany. two years ago, as part of the 70th anniversary of that event, he returned to belgium. the children and grandchildren of the belgians who had been liberated, created him like a hero. royal treatment, he and all the american soldiers deserved. when he speaks about his experience, he's never the hero. he reserves that role for the young men who didn't come home. he says "there's an inscription that reads, when you go home and tell them of us, for your tomorrow, we gave our today. at the risk of contradicting my friend, i have to say dick lockhart is indeed an american hero. this veterans day, we say to him and all the american veterans, thank you for your service. thank you for our freedom. thank you for all the tomorrows you purchased for us with your courage and sacrifice. mr. president, i yield the
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floor. >> 350 yea50 years ago, the uni states was at war in vietnam. this weekend, american history tv on c-span3 looks back with 48 hours of coverage, starting saturday at 8:00 a.m. eastern, we're live from the national archivine archives. from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we're taking your phone calls and tweets live with two historians about the war in 1967. at 1:00 p.m., from washington, d.c.'s vietnam veterans memorial, a ceremony featuring remarks by chuck hagel.
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