tv U.S. Senate Sens. Manchin Capito Pay Tribute to WWII Veteran Hershel... CSPAN July 14, 2022 9:05am-9:32am EDT
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c-span.org. >> mr. president, i rise today to speak on the life and legacy of my dear friend, the last surviving world war ii medal of honor recipient west virginia, and woody williams of west virginia. before i begin today, i want to recognize members of woody's family. here today with the family, recognize them and thank you for being here and thank you for sarg sharing woody and we are here to respect all veterans and their families and pay respect to the last living world war ii medal of honor recipient and to the family, i want to say this, you're the legacy he was most proud of, all of you, and i'm honored
would welcome and senator capito and i both are welcoming you, which is woody's legacy still here and thank you. but we'll respect his wishes and his wishes basically were all veterans and families to respect to the last living world war ii recipients. he quieted those on the sand of iwo jima. he's gone, but the ideals he lived by are not. his love of family, faith and service to country above all. general george patent said it's foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, rather shall we should thank god that such men lived. >> woody lived every day given a second chance and we're better for it. boy, did woody live a long time. his grandson passed along woody's recipe for a long life.
i hope i got it report. it's brag's apple cider vinegar, and the mother, the cloudy stuff in the water. and warm water and add pure maple syrup if you like drink rnging it every morning since 1960. and he got imprinted on business card because he was so tired of reciting it every time someone asked. and he handed out quite a few of the cards, too. and one of my favorite woody quotes is the one he cited when his grandson graduated from marrone boot camp. when he asked what was like to be a marine. >> by taking that oath you can take my life, but you cannot take my country or my freedom, you cannot take my country or my freedom. that says it all about woody. during the ceremony in west virginia last weekend, woody's
grandson chad said we must remember what woody taught us, there are few things in the world we can do alone. it's only through the support of others that we can truly reach our goals. so look to your left and look to your right, we're all a part of his legacy. and it is up to us to carry forward and in the words of woody, the crowd is greater than i. one of woody's last wishes was lying in state the capitol. and it wasn't for himself. we spoke about this, but he wants to make sure we honor all medalle honor recipients from world war ii, there were only 472 of the whole war, 472. tomorrow, the west virginia farm boy will lie in honor at the u.s. capitol rotunda, laying to rest the sacrifices of a generation of heroes. that's what we do tomorrow.
woody can rest in peace knowing his mission is complete. i will miss woody because he was my wing man or may i say this, we maybe were all his wing man and i think that's what he would have preferred. woody always had a project for everyone around him and everyone sitting up there he had projects for you, and projects for me and projects for shelly and made sure that we understood exactly what he wanted done. as his grandson brian casey said, if you met with woody, you know you always had a project for everyone. he would magically produce napkins and sharpies in his project typically with him, diagramming the program as you watched and listened. they were not always unused napkins, but works of art. woody came to me san he said we need to help the goldstar families in west virginia, and across the country. and so we started a motorcycle ride for the heroes.
we did six of those, and woody was in his 90's and he was there every time that slingshot, giving it all he had and he stayed right with us. we raised hundreds of thousands for the goldstar families and some of those funds, as you know, went into monuments across the nation and including the ones at the capital that we honor also with the laying of the wreath. i know how many good things woody and i worked on together. if you multiply that with the other people he worked with, he would realize, woody's incredible impact on west virginia and the entire country and that's why he got his shift and the va hospital and the national guard center named after him. and most recently our medical injuries were saved. his testimony ened the air commission which would have turned three of our four west virginia va medical centers into centers and countless others across the nation and in rural america, rural veterans
would not have been served. every veteran in the nation can thank woody for saving the va hospital. he was with us when i was governor and helped so much as we stood up to the cabinet secretary for veterans affairs and then he was the founding member at my senate veterans advisory group and he had efforts to clean up. and he helped to get the first fisher house and ken came in and it was over, done, that quick, unbelievable and i know it gave so much solace to the family when you got to spend a few moments in that beautiful place. it was really something, very, very special. woody's been there every step of the way from making sure that families of the fallen received death gratuities, during government shutdowns. that was a time that he said, joe, we have to do something, the shutdown is preventing us from giving the gratuities that
the families need and that's when we called ken fisher and we were good friends, ken fisher was the leader of that and that's how that began and ken was happy to step up. and the first goldstar children's day was the first and that was amazing so many people across the country and each of our states that we have in this body have so many good things to say about woody because the legacy runs further than west virginia as you know. i didn't realize the magnitude until i traveled to him in california and in virginia when his ship was commissioned and christened and when that happened, i mean, from the brass all the way down to the ensigns on the ship, the marines learned about being a marine because it studied woody williams and i just didn't believe the impact he had, and
it was unbelievable and people came to me and telling me the pact they had on them. and a general told me how they studied woody williams in the marine corps. let me tell you, i know you know him as your friend, i know you know him representing your state. will let me tell you how we studied him for the marine corps. when marines learned how to be marines, they learned about woody williams. i knew that west virginia had a treasure, and i didn't know for them, also, and woody gave me the gift and able to go down the sunday morning before he passed. it was a such a special day and he was cheerful and bright as everything, you would not think that anything was that much different and i said, woody, i think someone wants to speak to
you, and it was dennis mcdonald, the secretary of the va for the united states of america. and he wanted to speak to woody and woody was so thrilled, it was a great conversation. just as true form as woody, he said, now, mr. secretary, i've got to tell you a couple of things and he went into exactly what needed to get done, it was just classic and dennis called me afterward to explain the conversation and he was so tickled. and it techled woody, also, to be able to have that conversation, and he was just full of life. he was still full of life and it was still full of ambition 0 get things accomplished. and in his final day, the saying is always, quick as a whip, selfless, concerned for his fellow veterans and family, all of you, he was concerned about everybody. he was ready, his moment that i would cherish the rest of my day being able to spend the
little bit of time at the end there, but in true woody fashion, he gave me marching orders that day. he said, one of his last wishes closing the-- at the cemetery and senator got those, too, and they're out of the elements when paying final respects and should be done in every shelter in every va burial ground. and i can promise you this, that we are going to get that done. that was a commitment we made to woody and it will happen. as president biden said upon woody's passing, i don't throw the word hero around lightly, but if i'm going to use it, i'd use it for a guy like woody wisdom. and like it did for woody, it
come in different shapes and sizes. woody williams was far more than a hero, he was the greatest of the greatest generation and a model for future generations. from what i know, woody's greatest wish was for all of us to continue his mission, to give back to each and love our country and his grandson said last week, i had the project that he wants each of you to work on. and today, i will ask each of you to work on these projects, too, if goldstar families in your area are travelling more than an hour to one of the goldstar memorial monuments, they're travelling too far. your project is to get a project working in your back yard. second, if you have a monument in your area, your project is to ensure the legacy that woody helped to raise by working to recognize the families, become part of the project, become part of the process to bring people back to that monument. least we never forget these
goldstar families. as we celebrate the life and legacy of woody williams and all of our veterans in world war ii this evening and tomorrow, let us all do our best to continue woody's mission. may god rest the soul of our dear friend, our leader, our national hero, woody williams and i yield the floor to my colleague senator capito. >> madam president. >> the senator from west virginia. >> thank you for a gracious tribute to our good friend, woody williams and his family, to his generation and his love of our country and love of freedom and thank you for the leadership that you showed to make sure that tomorrow could happen. i know we worked on this together, but it was-- this is not an easy left to lie in honor, as you know, in the united states capital, but to me, it's so symbolic of a generation and i've encouraged
everybody i've seen, please come and pay respects to woody or to that greatest generation that woody symbolizes in his passing and i also want to thank the family. i can't see them from where i sit, right underneath you guys, woody has two daughters and five grandsons and three great-grandchildren, one of which is a daughter, great-granddaughter and i've had the pleasure of spending time with them over the last several days. so, i arrive today to honor and celebrate the megsy of an american hero and proud son of west virginia. he was always a proud son of west virginia. on june 29th, hershel woody williams, the last remaining medal of honor recipient from world war ii passed away at the grand age of 98 and tomorrow, rightfully, he will become just the seventh american as a first west virginian to lie in honor at the united states capitol rotunda. it's a well-deserved
recognition for a man from humble beginnings. he was the youngest of 11 children and one of my favorite encounters that i had with woody was, he traveled everywhere, i mean, we would get on planes and woody would be on the plane coming to d.c. and ask him where he's going. >> oh, he's going to san francisco or going to seattle, you know, to do something for goldstar families or flip the coin in the super bowl. he had more energy than all of us put together. he told me that during world war ii, when he was very anxious to sign up as so many of them were at those young ages of 18, 19, 20, he had a problem because he didn't really have a birth certificate. he was born in west virginia, which is a little spot in the road on a farm, but he told me that his mother had a really good friend and his mother's really good friend would come
over and help her deliver her 11 children and woody's mother and help her friend deliver her seven or eight children or however many. i think he told me in the end i have to make sure i'm telling this right to tracy and told me in the end, they had to drag his mother's friend down to the bureau and the county to make sure when he wanted to sign up to join that he was old as he said he was. and his acts of heroism would eventually help the united states capture the pivotal island of iwo jima, a world away from that quiet dairy farm in west virginia. many americans recognize the iconic image of our soldiers raising the flag. it evokes an enormously
overwelcoming sense of pretty good, of patriotism, of triumph. en february 3rd, 1945, the day that was taken, a young marine corporal woody williams was on that island. and that was underfire-- every time he tells the story he mentions the folks at that had his back and some of them didn't make it. woody from the 3rd marine division alone stormed many enemy pillboxes with limited cover, neutralizing one after another, saving countless american lives behind him. he went on to the fight throughout the entire five-week campaign on iwo jima until our forces finally took the japanese strong hold, marking a key turning point to the allied cause. his actions that day are throughout the war, are the reason why when west virginians think of the generation, we
think of woody williams. but what would set woody apart, i think, more than those acts of valor on the battlefield, it's what he did after that. how he carried himself in the more than 75 years since the second world war. through the woody williams foundation i was able to attend a couple memorials with him and it was quite moving and worked to ensure the memories of loved ones lost would go on forever. today, woody and his foundation have installed 104 goldstar family monuments across this country with about 70 additional monuments in every state. and through his unending energy and passion, he was quite the speaker. that guy could give a speech and it was all the captivating
whenever woody was on the program. his mission was to inspire those, especially younger americans, to answer that same call to service that he did as a teenage boy. as he said years later, the people need to remember if we ever lose our freedom, we'll never be able to regain it. he believed that to every core in his body. because of woody, there are more people who chose to answer the call and serve the united states in some way, shape or form. what an incredible legacy to leave. he also never forgot his fellow veterans. serving as a veterans service rep for 33 years at the va and i'm proud that that legacy of care lives on forever, in the hershel woody williams va medical center outside of huntington, west virginia.
as a matter of fact, that one of woody's request and said, joe, can you arrange that. woody came with the trademark humility that we know about him. and several years after president truman awarded him the medal of honor, woody says he remembers asking himself in that moment why was i selected to receive our nation's highest award when marines right beside me didn't make it home. that tells you everything you need to know and what kind of man woody williams was, putting his country and comrades first and never concerned with who got the credit. >> and i counted along my close contact with him and through the years seeing that i was able to learn from him, laugh with him, he told me, i asked him, why the marines? why not the army? he said he was walking down the
street, this before he joined and he saw a guy walking down the street and man, did he look great in that uniform, and he just -- that's what i want to be. i want to be a marine. but one of his family members told me at the funeral over in west virginia several days ago, that you need to add on there that he thought it would attract more women at the same time. he was thinking ahead. he was thinking ahead and i have to agree with him, that marine uniform is something quite special and so are the marines. the last thing i'll say on a personal note is the many times that i saw woody being born in 1923 was a reflection of not just him, he -- in his eyes the way he carried himself, i saw that whole greatest generation from my dad, who was also born in 1923 who served in world war ii, to left this country for
cause greater than themselves. who believed in protecting our freedoms. who went and fought for people they had never met, known or seen. and when you think about it in the context of where we are today, you think how special that was for our nation, for that greatest generation, so when i say goodbye to woody tomorrow when we have the ceremony tomorrow, we're saying goodbye and thank you to their greatest generation that my dad was a part of and it still has a lot of, i think, nostalgia and remembrance in all of our hearts and admiration for their passion and love of our country. so tomorrow, as we honor a great man and tell his story, woody will still be doing what he's always done, that's inspire us. here is for a live well-lived and a country he served even
after he wore the marine uniform he loved so dearly. hurrah, woody, rest peacefully and thank you. >> madam president, i know that both of us want to thank speaker nancy pelosi and majority leader chuck schumer and ranking member of the republican party, mitch mcconnell, and all of the people were so instrumental in making this happen. there's only been 35 people lying in state in this capitol, 35. out of millions and millions and millions. and it's a tremendous tribute for us coming from our wonderful patriotic beautiful state of west virginia, to have the greatest generation being represented and as woody would
say it's not for him, it's for everybody and i hope all the families and anybody who had anybody that served, shelly's dad was wounded in world war ii, purple heart and became our governor three times and a friend of mine. and my father and all of my family served in world war ii, but to have so many people, but woody is doing that for them. tomorrow is for every person who has sacrificed and given their all and the families who sacrificed also, we want to thank them for making it happen, a great tribute and a great honor, i know, for the family and all of us. god bless you and thank you for coming. >> now available in the c-span shop. c-span 2022 directory and go there to order the copy of the
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