To watch Senator Capito’s remarks, click here or the image above.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today spoke on the Senate floor today to wish West Virginia’s own Hershel “Woody” Williams a happy 98th birthday, and to share his story of service and sacrifice. Williams is the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient.
Senator Capito previously introduced a resolution requesting a state funeral for the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. This state funeral would not only recognize their individual service and sacrifice, but it would act as a final salute to the Greatest Generation and those who wore the uniform from 1941 to 1945.
FULL SPEECH TRANSCRIPT:
“It's an honor to talk about a good friend of ours, Woody Williams, here with my fellow senator from West Virginia to talk about our fellow West Virginian, Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams.
“He is just an incredible, incredible individual, and he turned 98 last week.
“He was born in 1923, which was the same year my father was born, and Woody and I have talked about this because when I see him I see my dad and that generation. My dad's no longer with us, and you know, they did incredible things at such a young age.
“So one day I was honored to sit next to Woody on an airplane flying home. He travels all over. It's amazing where he goes and what he does.
“He told me his whole story of joining the Marines, and signing up for the Marines, and why he wanted to do it. He was a country boy just born…they didn't even really actually know when he was born. He didn't have a full birth certificate. And he's a little guy. He wasn't quite big enough to be able to join, and he worried about that.
“And he was 17, but nobody really knew how old he was. I asked him, I said, ‘well what was your attraction being in the Marines?” He told me, he said, ‘One day he was in town, and he saw this guy walk by, and he was fully dressed in a Marine uniform, and he said, ‘I want to be that guy. I want to wear that uniform.’
“And he persevered as he has in every aspect of his life. And there's so many, as Senator Manchin said, so many brave from that greatest generation that served in “World War II, and he is the final World War II veteran Medal of Honor recipient of that award.
“We are so proud of him in West Virginia because it didn't stop there for him.
“He's spent a lifetime advocating for veterans, for veterans health, for fallen soldiers’ families, in a whole variety of roles and he never stopped.
“As Senator Manchin said, he fought valiantly at the Battle of Iwo Jima, storming those pillboxes, all four of them under relentless fire.
“He survived the entire five-week campaign in Iwo Jima, and as we know that was one of the most staunchly defended Japanese strong points at that time. His actions played a critical role in the eventual capture of that island.
“He’s inspired future generations to want to serve our nation.
“He's a hero for what he's done at home. He has committed himself for 75 years to veterans and their families.
“And he created the Hershel Woody Williams foundation. Through his foundation, Woody advocates for, and recognizes the sacrifices of, our Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in the military.
“Because of his tremendous efforts, Woody and his foundation are responsible for 60 Gold Star family memorial monuments.
“Senator Manchin and I have been to the grand opening. They just had a new one in Charleston on the grounds of the Charleston capitol.
“It’s beautiful to see and the other 70 additional monuments that are going to be built in the future.
“You know, we need reminders, I think. We need reminders of the sacrifices that people make. We need reminders of what it takes to defend our liberties, our freedoms, our families.
“We are really, really pleased to be here.
“The West Virginia Legislature included Woody in the West Virginia Hall of Fame, and named him a distinguished West Virginian in 1980, and again in 2013, and they’ll probably do it again next year.
“I mean, he's just so exceptional.
“His unending energy and passion have also inspired many generations. He has spoken to numerous schools, universities, community events and veterans receptions promoting patriotism and the ideals of service above self.
“I've been privileged to hear, and I know Senator Manchin has too, to attend several speeches given by Woody Williams, keeping in mind the last one I heard he was 98 years old.
"Oh my gosh, so inspiring. Makes you just want to feel pride for our country, but “for our people that our country boy from West Virginia could keep inspiring the next generations.
“You know he has been here to the halls of the U.S. Capitol, or you might have even seen him at the coin flip…how did he get there?...at the Super Bowl in 2018.
“He has gone on to really be a remarkable human being. And if you haven’t met him or haven't seen him make sure you get a chance if you hear he's coming your way.
“Abraham Lincoln famously said, ‘any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.’
“Today, I'm proud to honor my friend, with Senator Manchin, and many other West Virginians and others around the country, and to share his stories of courage, compassion, and the service, not only in the past, but the service that he has today.
“So, I'm glad to join a bipartisan group of our colleagues in honoring him, and honoring him in the future.”
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