Annual Bipartisan Tribute Honoring Veterans In Congress Gives Recognition To World War II D-Day Heroes 

By: Jul. 12, 2019

Annual Bipartisan Tribute Honoring Veterans In Congress Gives Recognition To World War II D-Day Heroes 

The Eighth Annual Tribute to Veterans and Those Who Serve in Congress featured a powerful line up, including Major Garrett, CBS' Senior Washington Correspondent, General Charles "Chuck" Wald, USAF-Retired (a four star), U.S. Congressman Peter King (NY), and a spectacular performance by world-renowned tenor Anthony Kearns.

Held between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holiday, the annual bipartisan event honors those who serve or have served their country in military uniform and as elected leaders. This year's tribute took place on June 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. King, a member and former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, led a recognition of Congressional members' service and military contributions. "All of these leaders appreciate that serving in the military is a life defining moment. We can never ever pay enough tribute to the men and women of the armed services," he said.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX), a retired Navy SEAL who served in Afghanistan, commented on the importance of having veterans in Congress: "They help bring a real-world perspective to the pertinent threats to our country that have been lost in the current polarization among politicians."

Rep. Jim Baird (IN), who served as Second Lieutenant for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, said: "Supporting veterans transcends political divides. This tribute highlights the commonalities between all of us who have served in the U.S. military - and those who work to support the fundamental freedoms of all Americans as elected officials."

Three U.S. military veterans who took part in World War II's "Operation Overlord," were also recognized, in light of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, including:

· Guy Whidden, a paratrooper in HQ Company, member of the 101st Airborne Division, and Purple Heart recipient;

· Wilbur Williams, who served on the USS Jeffers and assisted in the invasions of Normandy, Sicily, Southern France, and Okinawa; and

· Don McKee, who was part of the 29th Infantry Division, 175th Regiment, D-Day Medic, and recipient of two Purple Hearts and a bronze star.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (TN), Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee who served in the Army Medical Corps., said, "It was an honor to meet these veterans and hear their heroic stories of service and sacrifice -- and to reflect on how much they have contributed to our society."

U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX), retired Captain in the U.S. Air Force, agreed: "These men and their inspiring stories reminded me why I joined the military - and why I serve in the U.S. Congress: to protect the liberties our veterans have sacrificed so much to secure."

Other members of Congress confirmed to attend were: Mike Bost (IL), Jack Bergman (MI), Dan Crenshaw (TX), Warren Davidson (OH), Mark Green (TN), Barry Loudermilk (GA), Scott Perry (PA), Greg Steube (FL), and Don Young (AK). A last-minute House vote delayed the arrival of these honored guests.

The program began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Army Color Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance led by WWII-era Veterans, and Will Hubbard, a Marines Reservist and chief of staff of Student Veterans of America, and a powerful rendition of the National Anthem by Mr. Kearns. Mark Strand, director of the Congressional Institute, welcomed the audience and U.S. House Chaplain Patrick Conroy gave the invocation.

Mr. Garrett, the evening's Master of Ceremonies, remarked: "Those of us who haven't been in combat can't really understand all that is a part of that experience. Yet, in that unknowing, we dig deeper for a sense of appreciation. That's why events like this exist."

General Chuck Wald, USAF (Ret.), spoke of the importance of unity among Americans: "Most people around the world envy the freedom we live in, the type of life we have, the opportunities we have. It's good to have events like this to remind us of how lucky we are."

"I know we have some Congress members that were in the military and now they serve again. There's nothing more honorable than serving your country," Wald said, noting that in WWII about 11% served in combat and now less than half of one percent serve.

The program also featured remarks by Rick Yount, founder and executive director of Warrior Canine Connection, who spoke about the power of service animals to improve the mental and physical well-being of veterans.

Mr. Yount also made an exciting announcement: a litter of WCC puppies born on June 24, 2019 will be named "Operation Overlord" in light of the D-Day anniversary. Puppies in the litter will be named after the WWII heroes in attendance and grow up to be highly-trained service dogs. "We are not forgetting the sacrifices that these brave American heroes have made, and the dogs are really a living memorial to their selfless service," he explained.

Anthony Kearns sang a sensational set list including "Amazing Grace," which he dedicated to all those who have fallen in battle, as well as "How Great Thou Art," "Danny Boy," and "Shenandoah." One of the evening's highlights was Mr. Kearns' rousing "God Bless America," for which he asked all those in attendance to join him.

The program closed with a toast led by Kearns, Garrett, King, and Colonel James Tierney of the "Fighting 69th"-one of the most storied fighting units in U.S. history. Guests were invited to enjoy the hospitality including fine bourbons by Beam Suntory, California wines from Wine Institute, beer courtesy of NBWA-- and to try the famous "Fighting 69th" Regimental cocktail.

Said Rep. King, a veteran of the 69th Regiment (NY): "This year's highlight was honoring the D-Day veterans. I'm glad we have events like this to honor the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who put their lives on the line to protect our nation. I look forward to participating again next year."

General Wald summed it up: "My two favorite things in the world are World War II veterans and dogs. You've made my day."

The event was organized by Kirsten Fedewa & Associates, L.L.C.

BroadwayWorld Awards Voting


Review: MOSES at Theater J Photo
Review: MOSES at Theater J

What did our critic think of MOSES at Theater J? The title character of Michele Lowe's 90 minute, one-man play, full name Moses Schneider, experiences a literal holocaust, not just a signal fire like that of the Biblical Moses. He then experiences a spiritual journey like the hero of Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus (The Tailor, Re-tailored) which takes him through a loss of faith, a period of indifference when he can't quite remember why he is both numb and grief-stricken, to a regaining of the possibility of peace.

BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards December 5th Standings;  Leads Favorite Local Theatre! Photo
BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards December 5th Standings; Leads Favorite Local Theatre!

It's December, and the first standings of the month have been announced as of Tuesday, December 5th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

American Alliance For Theatre & Education to Host Inaugural Pre-Holiday Auction Photo
American Alliance For Theatre & Education to Host Inaugural Pre-Holiday Auction

American Alliance for Theatre & Education is hosting its first-ever Pre-Holiday Auction, featuring an array of exciting items and theater memorabilia. Join the event and support AATE's valuable work.

Review: AN IRISH CAROL at Keegan Theatre Photo
Review: AN IRISH CAROL at Keegan Theatre

What did our critic think of AN IRISH CAROL at Keegan Theatre?

More Hot Stories For You


The Magic Duel Comedy Show in Washington, DC The Magic Duel Comedy Show
The Mayflower Hotel (4/02-1/01)
Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC Unknown Soldier
Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage (3/29-5/24)
DRUM TAO 2024 in Washington, DC DRUM TAO 2024
Hylton Performing Arts Center (2/10-2/10)
Public Obscenities in Washington, DC Public Obscenities
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (11/13-12/23)
Eileen Ivers in Washington, DC Eileen Ivers
Hylton Performing Arts Center (3/17-3/17)
Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw in Washington, DC Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
Washington Stage Guild at Undercroft Theatre (11/16-12/10)
The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish in Washington, DC The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish
Synetic Theater (12/08-1/07)
Bridging the Gap in Washington, DC Bridging the Gap
Hylton Performing Arts Center (4/24-4/24)
Brian Ganz: A Chopin Recital in Washington, DC Brian Ganz: A Chopin Recital
Center for the Arts at George Mason University (5/04-5/04)
Martha Graham Dance Company in Washington, DC Martha Graham Dance Company
Center for the Arts at George Mason University (4/13-4/13)

Recommended For You