[Congressional Record: April 10, 2000 (House)]
DECLARING ``PERSON OF THE CENTURY'' FOR 20TH CENTURY TO HAVE BEEN AMERICAN G.I.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the
concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 282) declaring the ``Person of the
Century'' for the 20th century to have been the American G.I., as
The Clerk read as follows:
H. Con. Res. 282
Whereas the 20th century was a century of conflict between
forces of totalitarianism and dictatorship and forces of
democracy and freedom;
Whereas American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines
(collectively referred to as ``G.I.'s'') fought, bled, and
died in a number of conflicts during the 20th century,
including two World Wars, to secure peace and freedom around
Whereas in large measure due to the heroic efforts of the
American G.I., more people around the world enjoy the
benefits of freedom at the end of the 20th century than at
any other time in history;
Whereas the American G.I., in fighting the forces of
totalitarianism and dictatorship, had a strong personal sense
of right and wrong and did not want to live in a world where
Whereas it may truly be said that during the 20th century
the American G.I. accomplished great things while doing good
things, becoming recognized throughout the world as a
representative of freedom and democracy and, fundamentally,
as a force for good in the face of evil;
Whereas at the end of the 20th century numerous
organizations and publications sought to identify and
designate a ``Person of the Century'' based upon achievements
and contributions during that century; and
Whereas in light of the accomplishments of the Armed Forces
of the United States during that century both in defeating
the forces of tyranny and dictatorship and in embodying a
sense of honor, decency, and respect for mankind, it is
appropriate that the American G.I. be recognized as the
single most significant force affecting the course of the
20th century: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate
concurring), That Congress hereby declares the ``Person of
the Century'' for the 20th century to have been the American
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from
North Carolina (Mr. Hayes) and the gentleman from California (Mr.
Thompson) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes).
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks
on House Concurrent Resolution 282, now under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from North Carolina?
There was no objection.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, as a part of the honor of serving North Carolina's 8th
district in the U.S. Congress, I represent Fort Bragg and Pope Air
Force Base. I am continually impressed and made proud by their
dedication, commitment, and patriotism.
We are just turning the corner on a period in which we ask the
American G.I. to do more and more with less and less. As I have gotten
to know these brave men and women, one statement continues to ring in
my ears, the statement made during a military personnel hearing at the
Norfolk Naval Base was, ``Sir, whatever you give us, we will get the
job done.'' The spirit of the American G.I., soldier, sailor, airman,
and Marine, that ``can do spirit,'' is why we honor today the American
G.I. as the Citizen of the Century.
To help make clear why we honor these men and women, let me quote
Stephen Ambrose, author of Citizen Soldiers. ``American soldiers fought
hard to win the war, but strove every step of the way to create
peace.'' My friend and colleague, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr.
Skelton), said in a hearing held before the Committee on Armed Services
that this should be the Year of the Troop. I could not agree more. And
it is in that same spirit that I offer this resolution honoring the
American G.I. as the Citizen of the Century.
Quoting Stephen Ambrose again, ``At the core, the American citizen
soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong, and they didn't
want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought and
won. And we, all of us living and yet to be born, must be forever
We are grateful but must never forget what has been done for us, the
Nation and the world, by the American citizen soldier known
affectionately as the American G.I.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as
I may consume.
(Mr. THOMPSON of California asked and was given permission to revise
and extend his remarks.)
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I commend my friend, the
gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes), for introducing this
resolution and for bringing it to the House floor today. As he stated,
the 20th century was a century marred by conflict between forces of
totalitarianism and dictatorship and the forces of democracy and
freedom. It was a century of tremendous turmoil, bloodshed,
destruction, and displacement.
But by the end of that century, freedom and democracy flourished in
more places than at the century's start. And this was due most of all
to the courage and the bravery of millions of American G.I.'s:
soldiers, sailors, Marines,
airmen, merchant mariners and coasties, both active and reserve.
It was the American G.I., known at different periods of the century
by names such as doughboys, Yanks, Buffalo soldiers, Rough Riders, or
the American Expeditionary Force, who carried America's value system
abroad and demonstrated unselfish courage aiding those who struggled
against tyranny and oppression.
It was the American G.I. who helped defeat fascism, Nazism and
And it was the American G.I. who undertook the great offensives along
the Western Front, who scoured up the beaches of Normandy and across
the bloody Solomon Islands into Okinawa. It was the American G.I. who
fought in the deserts of North Africa and the jungles of Burma, the
Philippines and Indochina.
It was the American G.I.'s who secured air superiority against the
Germans and continuously supplied an embattled Britain before finally
mastering the sea lanes of the North Atlantic.
The American G.I. secured an uneasy peace on the Korean Peninsula
and, for members of my generation, fought in Vietnam.
Reflecting on the last quarter of the 20th century, it is clear that
the plight of the people of Grenada, Kuwait, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo
would have been considerably different had it not been for the
intervention of America and the American G.I.
Indeed, there is probably not a region of the world whose people have
not benefited from the presence of the American G.I. during the 20th
The role of the American G.I., of course, was not limited to
intervening during crises and war. In fact, we cannot forget it was the
American G.I. most often called to ensure the peace and who most often
delivered and distributed humanitarian aid around the world, whether
following a war or internal crisis, or after a natural or man-made
We also cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of American men and
women who served as sentinels of peace and gave their lives defending
freedom and Democratic values.
Many of us have personal friends we served with who are buried in
cemeteries near and far. Some were childhood friends. Others, men and
women that fate and war introduced to us. Each paid another installment
of the great debt that will never be erased as long as there is tyranny
in the world.
Just like the generations before them, they kept up the payments for
all of us. And like their predecessors, they paid in time and effort
and in blood.
I do not know any soldier who went to war for personal gain. They did
not indulge in parlor room debates about politics or the economies of
conflict. They did not engage in finger-pointing or scapegoating.
They reported for duty, and they did so with an intuition about
history and a clear understanding about the Hitlers and the Husseins
who turn up to remind us all that there are things worth sacrificing
General Sherman said, ``War is hell and combat is worse.'' Nobody
wants peace more than the veterans and the G.I.'s. Those of us who have
been there know that there is a better alternative to war. Bobby
Kennedy said that he believed ``many Americans share the broad and deep
hope of a world without war, a world where the imagination and energy
of mankind is dedicated not to destruction but to the building of a
Mr. Speaker, that is patriotism in the truest, most unadulterated
sense of the word. Let us also hope that the bloodshed and the conflict
that came to characterize the 20th century does not characterize the
As my colleague said when he began, the course of the 20th century
was changed for the better as a result of the unselfish courage and
sacrifice of the American G.I. Today, we recognize the contributions of
these men and women by passing a resolution declaring the person of the
20th century to have been the American G.I. I urge support of this
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Nevada (Mr. Gibbons), a steely-eyed fighter pilot. But before he
begins, I wish to identify myself with the most kind and appropriate
and very worthwhile remarks of my airborne friend, the gentleman from
California (Mr. Thompson).
(Mr. GIBBONS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Speaker, as a veteran of two wars, on active duty
during Vietnam and as a National Guard pilot called to active duty
during the Persian Gulf War, I rise to lend my voice to the chorus of
those who urge this body to honor the American G.I. as the person of
the 20th century.
The United States, through two hot World Wars and a long Cold War,
and numerous wars and conflicts in all the far-flung reaches of this
troubled globe, has been called the arsenal of democracy. Mr. Speaker,
the American G.I. was the bearer of those arms and our American flag.
He was, and still is, the guardian of our and our allies' security and
It is fitting that we are here to honor the G.I., the ``Government
Issue'' soldier, the average and anonymous American citizen who became
a soldier by setting down his tools of trade and picking up the
unfamiliar weapons of war. And upon completion of his glorious and
historic task, set them down again and to regain his primary status of
citizen, to enjoy the rights of freedom he secured for others, secured
with his life, his liberty and his sacred honor.
When the call went up, the Nevada ranch hand, the railroad worker,
and the miner answered that call. To stop fascism in its evil tracks in
Europe and the Pacific, the young man rose from his job in the subways
of New York or the fields of California and went to the nearest
recruiting station. And he returned to Asia later on to valiantly
struggle to return peace to the Korean Peninsula. The jungles and skies
of Vietnam rang with the bravery of North Carolina farm boys and the
California college students. And in the hot desert sands of the Middle
East, the young woman from Ohio toiled mightily for our Nation
alongside her fellow soldiers.
Through it all, the sacrifice, dedication, and honor of our soldiers
has been a lamp unto the world, the shining beacon of liberty. The
American G.I. kept our flame of freedom burning brightly through the
grim and dark skies; through blood, sweat and tears; through times of
adulation and, sadly, through times of unreasonable contempt. But stand
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the
gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton), the ranking member on the
Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr.
Thompson) for yielding me this time so that I might have this moment to
support this concurrent resolution declaring the American G.I. to be
the person of the century.
I commend the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes) for
introducing this resolution and the gentleman from California (Mr.
Thompson) for the work that he has done to further its cause today.
Last December, I joined more than 100 of my House colleagues in
urging Time Magazine to select the American G.I. as its Person of the
Century. And although the magazine did not select the G.I. for its end-
of-the-century cover story, it is more than fitting that the Congress
of the United States recognize our Nation's men and women in uniform
for their contributions.
The American G.I. changed the course of world history in helping to
defeat fascism and communism. Victorious in World War I, World War II,
down through Operation Desert Storm, bravely fighting in Korea,
Vietnam, and confronting the struggles of the Cold War, U.S. soldiers,
sailors, airmen, and Marines have protected our freedom and given hope
to freedom-loving people around the world.
The American G.I. has played an indispensable role protecting freedom
and preserving the peace through the course of the 20th century. I have
no doubt the American G.I. will continue to make all of us proud in the
next hundred years.
On a more personal note, Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that
family has been represented in the first World War, as my father was
aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in 1918 and our son was in Operation Desert
Storm as a member of the First Cavalry Division. So I am pleased to say
that our family has, through this century, been a part of the opening
and the closing of those victorious moments that made the American G.I.
the person of the century, in my opinion.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
California (Mr. Kuykendall), a former Marine.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. Mr. Speaker, these remarks are to some extent for me
off the cuff because I did not know this was coming up right before I
was supposed to have some floor duty here.
But the point I would like everyone to think about in honoring these
young G.I.s of America is they are young. Because we do not fight wars
with old people. They are always young. They are young men and young
women who serve in the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, Coast
Air Force, Merchant Marines. And they have all been recognized in
various times for combat actions that they were involved in, or some
were recognized because they showed up. And thank goodness they did not
have a combat action during their time in the service.
We all need to think and look around. If we look at some of us now,
we are a little older, we are a little wider, our hair is a little
grayer, or we have lost some of it. But today there are young men and
women doing the same thing that these veterans did starting clear back
at the turn of the 19th century to the 20th.
And it was America's commitment, America's commitment of its youth
all across the world, that defended freedom and democracy. We were
never committed in an imperialistic mode. We were always committed to
keep a country free, regain its freedom, retain the right to have a
free election in their country.
That is the reason these young men and women should be America's
person of the century. They were young. They did not necessarily know
what they went to do, and yet they stood tall when called and
voluntarily put themselves in harm's way in many cases.
The Nation should recognize this, and I am glad we are doing so and
urge the passage of this resolution.
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from
Maryland (Mrs. Morella).
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to commend the gentleman
from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes) for introducing this resolution. It is
most appropriate. I support it wholeheartedly. I want to thank the
gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson) for his leadership in that
We recently had an event here on Capitol Hill for those veterans in
my congressional district who had served in Normandy who were not able
to go to Normandy for the anniversary 50 years after it had occurred in
1944. Of that number, I was surprised I had almost 100 in my own
district who had served in Normandy. And of the group that attended,
about 65 of those who were able to attend, they brought their families.
We had over 250 people on the Hill.
When I spoke to these veterans and their families, they were so
appreciative of the simple acknowledgment that they had received. The
genuine thanks that these veterans conveyed to us reminded me of how
important it is to take time out to recognize and honor these heroes
from the past. Their sacrifices resulted in the promising future that
is now before us.
I can remember my three older brothers served in the Second World
War, and I remember as a child how we used to have a little banner in
the window with the three stars indicating that they served. There were
some families that had gold stars, which indicated that they had lost
someone in the war who had totally sacrificed. We recognize that the
people in this resolution played an important role in victory.
Now, I want to mention that in 1941 to 1945, over 16 million American
women and men joined forces to combat the Axis powers. Of the 16
million, there were two segments of the population that had never
before been properly integrated into a war effort and had played
significant roles, African Americans and women.
While both groups played a crucial role in the defense of our country
since the Revolutionary War, their efforts during World War II were
especially important. For example, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Women
Army Corps demonstrated their fortitude in battle and forever dispelled
any notions of the capabilities of African Americans and women in
I enjoyed Brokaw's book ``The Greatest Generation,'' and I think this
resolution confirms and underlines that and says that we in Congress do
recognize those people, the American G.I., whose sacrifices produced an
extended period of peace and warrants our eternal praise.
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as
I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that, once again, I thank the
gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes) for bringing this measure
forward. I would like to thank all the Members who spoke and those who
would have spoken had they been able to today.
But, most important, I would like to thank everyone who sacrificed
and served in our U.S. military over the last century and those who are
serving today. I ask for an ``aye'' vote on this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson) for
his leadership and for his cooperation and for being a part of this
Let me pause for just a moment, if I may, to particularly thank the
moms and the dads, the husbands, the wives, the children who lost loved
ones fighting the wars of this and other centuries.
I lost an uncle flying the Hump in Burma, Charles A. Cannon, Jr. I
never will forget that my grandfather never forgot. When the door bell
rang or the phone rang, he always hoped it was some word that they had
found his son.
So in closing, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to bring to the floor a
resolution that declares the American G.I. the person of the 20th
century. As we reached the end of 1999, people throughout the world had
reason to celebrate. Mankind had progressed into a new year, a new
century, and a new millennium. Such occasions provide an opportunity to
reflect upon our past so that we may remember the people, places, and
events that have shaped our culture and our future.
Over the past 100 years, we have enjoyed advancements in almost every
facet of our daily lives. In our Nation in particular, the end of the
20th century served occasion to celebrate an era marked by American
accomplishment. We, as a Nation, tackled and overcame challenges deemed
insurmountable by our forebearers. Most notably, the American
commitment to liberty, justice, and freedom has served as a model for
democracy for peoples around the globe.
Our achievement has not come without its price, however. As former
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell has
expressed, the 20th century can be called many things, but it was most
certainly a century of war. Throughout this period, the forces of
tyranny and dictatorship rose time and again to wage war on an
unsuspecting world. How easy it is to forget those dark moments of our
past. But we must not. We can never take for granted the freedom we, as
Americans, enjoy. Our liberty is not free and always comes with a
price. It has been secured through the years of American sacrifice and
That is why I put before the Congress a resolution to recognize the
American G.I. as the most influential figure of the 20th century. I
offer this legislation not to glorify war and the atrocities that
accompany it. To do so would be an insult to every American who made
the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Nation.
Instead, I wish to commemorate the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines
and coasties, collectively referred to as the American G.I., who left
their families and their homes to fight on foreign soil for a nobler
cause. I offer my resolution to celebrate generations of Americans who
refused to live in a world
where wrong prevails. Without their sacrifice, the history of the 20th
century would have taken a very different course.
Mr. Speaker, I am honored to represent the soldiers and airmen
stationed at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. I visit these
installations regularly and over the last 18 months have enjoyed
getting to know the young men and women who proudly serve our Nation.
Their patriotism and sense of duty reflects the same spirit of
generations who served before them. These young men and women would in
a moment's notice defend our Nation from her foes. In honoring these
courageous Americans who fought for this Nation during the 20th
century, we also honor all those who serve today.
Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 282,
which recognizes the American G.I. as the Person of the Century.
This resolution recognizes the defining role that American soldiers
have played in charting a safe course for our nation and for democracy
around the world. Unlike a certain magazine which recognizes the
discrete accomplishments of individuals in its annual ``Man of the
Year'' issue, the contributions of American soldiers cannot be so
easily defined. The Americans who have served their country in the last
100 years as soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are many, and the
sum of their combined contributions defy a simple summary. Nor should
the heroism of this group be reduced to a brief summary, for this would
only serve to minimize the depth of American sacrifice over the last
Americans fought in two world wars for the basic principles of self-
determination, democracy, and liberty. In both wars, Americans fought
abroad to preserve values that transcended national interest, creating
a foundation for a peaceful Europe and Asia that would have been
unthinkable in the early years of the century. The rejection of
totalitarianism evident in the defeat of the Third Reich continued to
define the contributions of the American GI throughout the century.
Bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam tested American resolution, but
the GI unfailingly carried forward the flag in support of liberty and
democracy. The stalwart resolves of the American GI checked Soviet
aggression in Western Europe and contributed directly to the collapse
of the Soviet Empire.
And the fight continues even today. While the official Cold War may
be faded into history, Americans stationed on the front lines in South
Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, or any of a myriad of other countries
continue to play an important role as guarantors of peace and
Fifty years ago, the second half of the Twentieth Century was dubbed
``America's Century,'' because of the formative role the United States
has played in reshaping the world in our image at the conclusion of
World War Two. I join my colleagues today in recognizing that we owe
the American Century to the steady, faithful efforts of the American
GI, the Person of the Century.
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Speaker, I am in support of this resolution.
Throughout this sad and bloody century, it was the GI--the American
citizen soldier--who left hearth and home, put his or her personal
plans on hold, and traveled to every corner of the world to save the
concept of democracy and preserve the value of freedom. Despots and
dictators throughout this century were halted in their tracks and
driven back to their lairs because Americans were not, as they thought,
too soft and decadent to resist their battle-hardened armies.
The warlords of Imperial Germany were the first to learn that the
American fighting man was not a pushover. American soldiers at Chateau
Thierry and United States Marines at Bellau Wood brought the German's
last chance offensive in 1918 to a halt. Later, the Doughboys would be
sent into the most difficult terrain in Northern France--the Argonne
Forest--to drive the Germans out of positions that had stymied the
Allies for over four years. Meanwhile the United States Navy was
helping to sweep the seas clear of U-boats and the American Air Service
was dueling in the skies with the students of the Red Baron.
The Nazis of Germany, the Fascists of Italy, and the militarists of
Japan were the next to try to, in Churchill's words, ``plunge the world
into a new Dark Age.'' And again, it was the New World, with all its
power and might, stepping forth to the rescue and liberation of the
Old. Hitler had nothing but contempt for American fighting prowess.
From Kassarine Pass, through Salerno and Anzio, to the maelstrom of
Normandy, all the way to final victory in the heart of Europe--the GI
shattered the same Wehrmacht that had marched through the Arc de
Triomphe and past the Acropolis. In the air, Americans devastated the
Luftwaffe that had terrorized Warsaw and destroyed Rotterdam, and then
laid waste to the Nazi industrial complex.
The Japanese believed that their troops, culturally imbued with the
spirit of Bushido, would easily outfight the soft Americans. They did
not expect that Americans would fight in places such as Guadalcanal,
Tarawa, New Guinea, or Iwo Jima--where uncommon valor was a common
The GI managed to so this at the end of supply lines stretching
thousands of miles. They could only do this because their colleagues in
the Navy kept those sea-lanes safe against submarines, surface raiders
and aircraft. The merchant mariners who manned those supply and
transport ships were the unsung heroes of that mission--suffering great
travails as they got their vital cargoes through. Very few stories of
the Second World War are as compelling as the ordeal of Convoy PQ-17,
which suffered terrible losses on its way to Murmansk.
As a result of these sacrifices, most Americans believed that tyranny
was decisively defeated, that the second half of the century would be
free of the perils that market the first. Instead, the GI was forced to
wage a long twilight struggle against another form of totalitarianism--
Soviet Communism--and stand on guard for nearly another 50 years.
American troops were forced to remain in Europe, to hold back the
Iron Curtain from sweeping the entire continent into darkness. Millions
of American families grew to recognize places such as the Fulda Gap and
Rhein-Main air base. The Sixth Fleet patrolled the Mediterranean to a
degree not dreamed of by their ancestors that had stormed the shores of
In Asia, the Cold War grew hot in Korea, where the term ``Frozen
Chosen'' entered the lexicon. Even now, GI's remain on alert to keep
the North Korean Peoples Army on their side of the DMZ. Further south,
Americans fought, bled, and died in Vietnam--America's longest war--and
our most divisive since our Civil War. At last, all recognize that the
GI's service there was honorable.
Even now, after the global threat of Communism has collapsed, it is
the GI who is called upon when freedom is seriously threatened. From
Kuwait to Kosovo, it is only when the American fighting man arrives,
that the world knows that aggression will be resisted.
There have been many great people this century who have symbolized
the struggle for freedom in the twentieth century--Churchill,
Roosevelt, Reagan--but it is the millions of people behind them, the
American GI's, who actually delivered on that promise. I ask my
colleagues to join me in passing H. Con. Res. 282, to declare that the
``Person of the Century'' is truly the American GI. He enabled us to be
debating in this chamber today.
Mrs. ROUKEMA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Con.
Res. 282--Declaring the ``Person of the Century'' for the 20th century
to have been the American G.I.
As a co-sponsor of this resolution, I strongly believe that the
United States House of Representatives must officially be on record as
Mr. Speaker, there is not enough time on this floor today for us to
pay full tribute to the importance the American G.I. played in the
history of this century. Our democracy, freedom, and liberty owe
themselves to the sacrifices of the American G.I.
From World War I to the Persian Gulf, the American G.I. has always
stood proud and tall. Ordinary men and women from across every walk of
life, when asked, answered the call to duty.
When we think of the darkest moments of the 20th century, it was
always the American G.I. that stepped into the breach to defend
freedom. It was the G.I. that huddled low while crossing the beach at
Normandy. it was the G.I. that bravely fought in the cold at Cho-San.
It was the G.I. that did their duty, with honor, at Da'Nang. it was the
G.I. that was the lightning in Desert Storm. And, it was the G.I. that
has always stood guard between freedom and tyranny. It is for these
very reasons that the American G.I. should be recognized as the person
of the century.
Defending the Constitution of the United States on foreign soil is
the greatest duty the nation can ask of its citizens. The American G.I.
answered the call to duty and performed it to the highest standard.
What Winston Churchill said of his soldiers rings true for ours,
``Never have so few given so much for so many''.
Mr. Speaker, as we speak today we must never forget our duty to our
veterans. Our veterans were there when the nation called; now we must
be there when they need our help. There can be no compromise when it
comes to veterans' health care. I am proud of the actions we have taken
so far and to the fact that we will not let our veterans down.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, today I am supporting H. Con. Res. 282, a
bill to declare the American G.I. as ``The Person of the Century for
the 20th Century.'' I urge my colleagues to join in supporting this
timely, appropriate measure.
As the year 1999 drew to a close, it became fashionable among pundits
and academians to
nominate a person of the century, for the outgoing 20th century. Many
such people were selected, including Time magazine's choice of Albert
Einstein. Writing for the New York Times, columnist Charles Krauthammer
presented an eloquent defense of his nominee, Winston Churchill,
without whom, he argued, Britain would have eventually sought a
separate peace with Nazi Germany, drastically altering history. Many
other distinguished journalists and pundits offered their own choices
for this honorable position.
H. Con. Res. 282 takes a different approach to this nomination.
Instead of presenting an individual for the award, it makes a
collective nomination in declaring the American G.I. to be the best
choice for person of the 20th century. Mr. Speaker, I can think of no
better choice for this honor.
In the past century, no group of people have given more of themselves
in the cause of defending freedom and liberty than the American people.
Twice this century the American citizen-soldier left his family and
occupation to take up arms in defending freedom on the continent of
The arrival of the first members of the American expeditionary force
served as a vital morale boost to their exhausted British and French
counterparts on the western front in 1917. Later, more than 2 million
American soldiers arrived in France to check the last desperate
offensive of the Kaiser's army and eventually broke the back of
imperial Germany's war effort. Without the contributions of the
American G.I. the western allies surely would have fallen to the German
offensive of 1918 and the U-boat campaign against the British shipping
Twenty-five years later, the American G.I. led the first western
counteroffensive against Nazi Germany and took on imperial Japan almost
single-handedly. Beginning in North Africa, American soldiers rolled
back the German war machine, through Algeria, Sicily, the Italian
peninsula and later from Normandy to Paris to Germany itself. In the
Pacific, American Marines launched a two-pronged island-hopping
campaign from springboards in Hawaii and Australia, supported by our
Nation's Air Force, against Imperial Japanese forces, culminating in
the bitter hard fought conquest of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Backed by an
industrial base with overwhelming production capacity, the American
G.I. liberated Europe from the grip of Nazi totalitarianism and the
Pacific from Imperial Japanese tyranny.
The American G.I. spent the second half of the 20th century defending
freedom from Communist aggression, in Europe, the Middle East, Latin
America and in the Far East. While many during the cold war questioned
American defense of nations with little or no democratic government in
practice, history has vindicated the cold war American G.I. through
today's examples of South Korea, Taiwan and most Latin American
countries, where democracy is both alive and well.
Mr. Speaker, the world would indeed be a much different place today,
were it not for the contributions of the millions of courageous
American citizen-soldiers, who, when called upon by their country,
selflessly put aside their personal interests and stepped forward to
defend freedom and democracy. While we have not done it alone, the
American contribution has almost always meant the difference in
ultimate victory for the United States and her allies.
Accordingly, I strongly support this as befitting legislation, and
strongly urge my colleagues to support its passage.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I cannot support H. Con.
Res. 282. I take a back seat to no one in my support, appreciation, and
admiration for the individuals who served our Nation in the military
over the course of the 20th century. I would support a resolution which
recognized their contributions, although I would far prefer a more
tangible showing of appreciation, such as fulfilling the promises of
health care made to those who served.
I cannot support this resolution, however, for several reasons.
First, it seems to me that the House has enough business on its plate
fulfilling its responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution and
need not enter into an interesting but purely theoretical debate
fostered by a magazine topic.
Secondly, if we were to offer an opinion on the ``Person of the
Century,'' it should actually be a person, not a class or category of
persons. Words have meaning, and as we alter or stretch those meanings,
we may well encourage inaccuracy or stretching of the truth. We have
had enough of that recently.
I also believe that we should not diminish the importance of the
individual human being. The contributions to world history by American
service men and women were accomplished by individuals. A man or woman
is brave; an organization or class of persons is not. We should not
diminish the importance of what a brave individual can do by redefining
``person'' to mean an entire category of persons.
The key question to ask in assessing ``Person of the Century'' is how
would things have been different without him or her. I have my personal
view on who that should be, but my views are better argued in a
magazine article rather than on the floor of the House of
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Nethercutt). The question is on the
motion offered by the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Hayes) that
the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H.
Con. Res. 282, as amended.
The question was taken.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be