Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the joint resolution (H.J. Res. 46) conferring status as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces on Zachary Fisher.
The Clerk read as follows:
Whereas the United States has only once before conferred on an individual status as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces, when in Public Law 105-67 Congress conferred that status on Leslie Townes (Bob) Hope; Whereas status as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces is and should remain an extraordinary honor not lightly conferred nor frequently granted; Whereas the lifetime of accomplishments and generosity of Zachary Fisher on behalf of United States military servicemembers, veterans, and their families through a wide range of philanthropic activities fully justifies the conferring of such status; Whereas Zachary Fisher is himself not a veteran, having attempted to enlist in the Armed Forces to serve his country during World War II, but being informed that he was ineligible due to a preexisting medical condition; Whereas Zachary Fisher and his wife Elizabeth have as private citizens enhanced the lives of thousands of servicemembers, veterans, and their families through a wide range of philanthropic activities; Whereas Zachary Fisher has been honored by each of the branches of the Armed Forces, by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and by the major veterans service organizations for projects such as the preservation of the USS INTREPID as a sea-air-space museum in New York harbor, the establishment of the Fisher House program for relatives of critically ill members of the Armed Forces and their families, and the furnishing of scholarships and other financial support to families who have lost a loved one in service to their country; and Whereas Zachary Fisher has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his extraordinary patriotism and philanthropy: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress-- (1) extends its gratitude, on behalf of the American people, to Zachary Fisher for his lifetime of accomplishments and philanthropy on behalf of United States military servicemembers; and (2) confers upon Zachary Fisher the status of an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump) and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump).
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous matter on this legislation.
Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Arizona?
There was no objection.
Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, House Joint Resolution 46 is a joint resolution conferring status as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces on Zachary Fisher.
Mr. Fisher was a well-known ardent supporter of the U.S. military personnel and their families. Unfortunately, Mr. Fisher passed away last June. He was the founder of the Fisher Houses at military facilities, as well as on the grounds of the VA medical centers. Servicemembers and veterans or their families can stay at Fisher Houses while receiving medical treatment.
The Fisher Houses are tangible evidence of Zachary Fisher's commitment to servicemen and their veterans, but more important, for the intangible comfort these respites provided during the difficult times for their families.
In addition to the Fisher Houses, Zachary Fisher has established foundations that provided college scholarships to military dependents, and also gave generously to families and military members struck by tragic losses.
Zachary Fisher's efforts on behalf of our men and women in uniform, as well as veterans and their families, have earned the honor we bestow today. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, before expressing my strong support for this resolution, I want to take a few moments to make some brief remarks commending and thanking Jill Cochran.
Jill, as many Members know, is an outstanding individual who has served as a member of the Democratic staff of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. She is a Democratic staff director on the Subcommittee on Benefits, who will be retiring early next month after a career of 25 years. During this time she has been devoted to working with and on behalf of our Nation's veterans.
Mr. Speaker, Jill has played a significant role in fashioning much of the major veterans' legislation enacted by Congress during the past 25 years. The list of her major contributions is so long I am unable to recite it in the time available. I will, however, recognize her many accomplishments in a statement in the near future.
She will obviously be missed, but for everything there is a season. It would be easy to think about ourselves at this time and fret about her absence. Instead, we wish her only the best as she embarks on a new path in her life.
At this time I merely want to say, thank you, Jill, for all you have done and accomplished for our Nation's servicemen and women.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise in strong support of this resolution, which would confer status as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces on Zachary Fisher. I regret that this action on this resolution was not completed before his death earlier this year, but I believe that approval of this joint resolution will be meaningful to his widow, Elizabeth, and to the entire Fisher family. Certainly it would be a gesture of tremendous importance to the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and to our veterans.
To put it simply, Zachary Fisher loved his country. He loved those who served their country through their military service. The contributions made by Mr. And Mrs. Fisher which have enhanced the lives of many military personnel and their families, and have honored their service and sacrifice, are extraordinary.
In his statement regarding Mr. Fisher's death, the President said, ``Mr. Fisher helped all Americans repay the tremendous debt we owe to our men and women who every day risk their lives to defend our country and to advance the cause of freedom around the world. I am proud to present him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom last Fall.''
I am proud to stand in support of House Joint Resolution 46, and I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.J. Res. 46, which would confer status as an honorary veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces on Zachary Fisher.
I regret that action on this resolution was not completed prior to Mr. Fisher's death earlier this year, but I believe that approval of this joint resolution will be meaningful to Mr. Fisher's widow, Elizabeth, and to the entire Fisher family. Certainly, it will be a gesture of tremendous importance to the men and women who serve in America's Armed Forces and to America's veterans.
To put it simply, Zachary Fisher loved his country--and he loved those who serve America through their military service. The contributions made by Mr. and Mrs. Fisher which have enhanced the lives of military personnel and their families--and have honored their service and sacrifice--are extraordinary.
Saddened by the devastating effects on Marines and their families of the 1983 terrorist bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, the Fishers established the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Armed Services Foundation.
Through the foundation, the Fishers provided financial assistance to each of the families affected by this terrible tragedy. Subsequently, they established a scholarship program funded by the foundation and, since 1987, more than 700 students have gone to school as a result of the foundation's assistance.
In 1990, the Fishers established the Fisher House Program, providing more than $15 million to establish comfortable temporary housing for the military families of patients receiving care at military and VA hospitals. More than 25 Fisher Houses have opened their doors and are now available to military families around the country.
The Fishers have also provided the funding for charitable efforts such as the establishment of a child care center at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base and development of the CAMP Program, which provides services for the disabled children of military personnel at Lackland Air Force Base.
The list of additional acts of generosity by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher is almost endless. Mr. Fisher led the effort to save the aircraft carrier Intrepid from the scrap heap and contributed more than $25 million to convert the carrier into the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, located in New York City.
He served as honorary chairman of the board of directors of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and established the annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine.
Zachary Fisher was also a strong supporter of the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, the George C. Marshall Foundation, the United Jewish Appeal, and countless other organizations.
Mr. Speaker, Zachary Fisher was a remarkable man who lived an extraordinary live. In his statement regarding Mr. Fisher's death, President Clinton said, ``* * * Mr. Fisher helped all Americans repay the tremendous debt we owe to the men and women who every day risk their lives to defend our nation and advance the cause of freedom around the world. I was proud to present him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom last fall.''
I am proud to stand in support of H.J. Res. 46--and I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me.
Mr. Speaker, among the pantheon of great American patriots belongs the name of the late Zachary Fisher. His countless, and I mean countless, acts of kindness towards our military and their families over a long and full life are legendary. He went out and bought a carrier, the Intrepid, for several millions of dollars, and brought it to New York and turned it into a museum that still operates every day to show people the great exploits of our military.
Beyond what he has done for the military, his fight against the dread disease of Alzheimer's led him to found the Fisher Center for Alzheimer Research in New York, and when this dread disease is conquered it will be Zach Fisher and the medical team he has assembled, along with David Rockefeller and the president of the center, Mr. Michael Stern, who will deserve an important share of the credit.
Zach Fisher lived a long life and he never stopped helping people, caring for people. He had a giant heart, a giant soul that animated one of God's very special people. I grieve his loss but I am so happy that he ever lived and I knew him and he was my friend.
As a veteran, I am very proud to have Zachary Fisher declared through this act, legislative act, an honorary veteran. If anyone should be an honorary veteran, Zach Fisher should be. I want to thank the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump), the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for his thoughtfulness in bringing this forward, and the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney), whose love and affection and concern for Zach Fisher manifests itself in drafting this marvelous resolution. I congratulate them both.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney).
(Mrs. MALONEY of New York asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks, and include extraneous material.)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans) for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Joint Resolution 46 that would confer honorary veteran status on a true American patriot, an individual who supported not only our Armed Forces and the Department of Defense but also the many Americans and their families at home, Zachary Fisher.
Zach was an extraordinary man. He received every single honor our country could bestow on him, save one. He wanted to be a member of the military. He wanted to be a veteran.
The bill before us today, which I authored along with the ranking member of the Defense Committee on Appropriations, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha), the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young), and the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), named Zachary Fisher an honorary veteran.
This great honor has been given only once before in the history of our great Nation. This act before us, which I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions), the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump), and the ranking member, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans) for helping me bring before Congress today, makes Zachary Fisher an honorary veteran. It would have made him tremendously happy because it puts an official seal on what he already was, a member of the military family.
Zachary Fisher had many accomplishments, activities and interests, but his great love was the military. I remember him explaining to me why it was so important to him. He tried to enlist during World War II but was turned down for physical disabilities which he received as a young man working on construction sites. Since he could not serve, he was especially grateful for those who served for him, for us, for our Nation. He spent the rest of his life serving the military in any way he could.
Zach Fisher knew that it was not the accumulation of great wealth which he valued but the judicious use of that wealth for humanity. He often said to me, and I quote, it is not what I make in life but what I give that lives after me, and that lasts for eternity. By that standard, he was tremendously successful.
Zach and Elizabeth Fisher created many foundations and found numerous ways to help the military. He saved the USS Intrepid from becoming scrap metal and turned this great ship into a sea-air-space museum in New York City Harbor. His dedication turned the USS Intrepid into a nationally-recognized museum with more than 500,000 visitors annually. Through the Fisher Armed Services Foundation he created the first Fisher House in 1990 to allow families to stay near their loved ones who undergo surgery and treatments at military hospitals and veteran medical centers. We all know the financial and emotional strain on a family when a loved one is in the hospital. Fisher Houses give these families a comfortable and affordable option near their loved ones. There are now more than 25 Fisher Houses across the United States from here in Washington, D.C. to San Diego, California. Mr. Fisher further expanded his foundation to provide scholarships to those who have served in the military. He provided scholarships to the sons and daughters of families who have lost a loved one in service so that they could go to college. More than 700 students have been able to go to college, a goal that might otherwise not have been there for them.
Zach's most recent contribution was to create a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation for a state of the art research center on Alzheimer's disease at Rockefeller University. In the halls of the Intrepid, there are numerous honors and awards on the walls. From each branch of the armed services, the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the major veterans organizations, to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Zach Fisher has been recognized for his contributions to the military. Now today we have the opportunity to give him the one award he desired the most, the honor of being a veteran of the armed services of the United States.
I would like to add to the Record the listing of all the veterans organizations that endorse this legislation.
I cannot conclude better than using the words of Zach Fisher's best friend Michael Stern. At Zach's funeral, he said, and I quote, ``I sought fitting words to say good-bye to my friend. I could not improve on the words of Ronald Reagan. Well done, soldier.''
The following Organizations support H.J. Res. 46:
Air Force Association (AFA), Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), The American Legion Rhinelander East Side Post 6, Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA), Assn. of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Disabled American Veterans, Commissioned Officers Assn. of the U.S. Public Health Service, Inc., CWO and WO Association of the U.S. Coast Guard, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., Marine Corps League, Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association (MCROA), National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), National Military Family Association (NMFA), National Order of Battlefield Commissions (NOBC), Naval Enlisted Reserve Association (NERA), Naval Reserve Association. Navy League of the United States, Reserve Officers Association (ROA), The Military Chaplains Association of the U.S.A., The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), The Retired Officers Association (TROA), The Society of Medical Consultants to the Armed Forces, United Armed Forces Association, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Assn., U.S. Army Warrant Offices Association, United War Veterans' Council of New York County, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 6 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young), the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.
(Mr. YOUNG of Florida asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Joint Resolution 46, which bestows honorary veteran status upon Mr. Zachary Fisher.
Zach Fisher was a true American hero who spent most of his adult life working behind the scenes in support of the men and women he loved who served in our Nation's military. It is most fitting today that we grant honorary veteran status to a man who longed to serve our Nation. Unfortunately, a construction injury left Zach unable to serve on active duty. He was turned down by the services because of a serious knee injury when he tried to join the Marine Corps during World War II. Unable to serve on the battlefield, he sought other ways to help those he so envied who served here and abroad, in war and in peacetime.
The American public has probably never heard or read of Zach Fisher's good will and generosity, but he wanted it that way.
When 241 Marines died in the tragic 1983 Beirut bombing, Zach Fisher sent each of the victim's children a $10,000 check for their college education. The total for the 113 children was $1,130,000.
When 47 U.S. sailors died in a 1989 accident aboard the USS Iowa, Zach Fisher sent each family who lost a loved one a check for $25,000 to help with their expenses at a very difficult time in their life.
In all, with no public fanfare, the Fisher Armed Services Foundation has sent out checks to more than 600 families of service members who paid the ultimate price. It was Zach Fisher's way of saying thank you from a grateful nation and from a grateful Fisher family.
His legacy of generosity and patriotism does not end there. Years ago, he learned of the plight of a wife of a seriously ill member of our military who could not afford a hotel room near the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. She had to ride two buses each way just to visit him at the hospital.
Zach came up with the idea to build a house on the hospital's grounds where family members could stay and be near their loved ones in their greatest time of need.
Today, there are 26 Fisher Houses on the grounds of U.S. military and veterans hospitals and two more under construction, including the first one abroad in Germany, where U.S. troops are stationed. These are beautiful homes that allow family members to be together at a most trying time in their lives. It is yet another way Zach Fisher and his family serve those who serve our Nation.
To honor the legacy of courage and bravery with which Americans serve our country, one of Zach Fisher's greatest and proudest achievements was resurrecting the USS Intrepid into a living, floating museum. It took 17 years and more than $25 million to open the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, the world's largest marine museum, which is now docked in Manhattan's Hudson River. It is one of New York City's most popular tourist spots, and hosts more than 600,000 visitors annually.
Every May, it has become a New York tradition to kick off Fleet Week activities with a parade of ships from all over the world, usually watched over by Zach Fisher aboard the deck of the Intrepid. Oftentimes, he was joined by former presidents and our Nation's highest ranking military leaders. They all recognize how much Zach Fisher and his wife Elizabeth have given to our Nation's service members. They know his gifts came from the heart. He never sought public recognition for his good deeds, just as those who fought on the ground, in the air and at sea never sought public recognition for their acts of bravery.
For all his quiet yet good work, President Clinton awarded Zach Fisher the 1998 Medal of Freedom, one of our Nation's highest civilian honors.
Mr. Speaker, Zach Fisher's largess went far beyond those who serve in uniform. He loved children and several years ago he learned of a program at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to care for a small population of special children of service members. The Department of Defense brings these children with severe physical problems and learning disorders together at Lackland to meet their special educational needs.
When Zach Fisher learned that this program was housed in two old World War II quonset huts, he decided to do something about it. Today, we have the Admiral Jeremy Boorda Center for Children with Special Needs; a brand new, state-of-the-art facility that provides the best care possible for these children.
One of the two Fisher Houses now under construction will serve as a Children's Inn for the families of children being cared for at the Boorda Center.
In addition to his concern for our Nation's youngest citizens, Zach also was concerned about the terrible toll that Alzheimer's has taken on older Americans. He responded as only he could by establishing the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at the Rockefeller University in New York. This world renowned facility is sponsoring leading-edge research into the causes of and cures for Alzheimer's disease.
As my colleagues can see, Zach Fisher never responded in a small way to a problem. He confronted problems large and small with the same spirit and energy and he always got results. In the end, those results have meant a better quality of life for the families of service members, for children and for older Americans.
Mr. Speaker, the military coalition which represents all of our Nation's major veterans organizations has endorsed this legislation because they know how much Zach Fisher loved veterans and gave to our service members.
I want to commend my colleague from New York Carolyn Maloney, for introducing this resolution, and my good friend from Illinois Henry Hyde for joining with me as an original cosponsor as we honor this unique special American. We all share a certain sense of sadness that Zach Fisher died last June before we could complete action on this legislation. His life-long dream was to join those he most loved as a veteran of our U.S. services. Today, for just the second time in our nation's history, we grant that special status as an honorary veteran.
The Military Coalition, which represents all of our nation's major veterans service organizations, has endorsed this legislation because they know how much Zach Fisher loved veterans and gave to our service members.
Mr. Speaker, when I first heard about Zack Fisher, I told many of my colleagues that this person was just too good to be true. There couldn't be anyone doing as much for his nation so quietly and with so little fan fare. It wasn't until I first met Zach Fisher that I found out he was even more kind and caring than the reports I had received. Nothing brought a bigger smile to his face than a hug or handshake from an enlisted service member or from a child visiting the INTREPID.
Today I know Zach Fisher is looking down upon this House with that same glowing smile as a grateful nation says thank you to a true American hero who devoted his life and his generosity to our service members. He now stands shoulder to shoulder with all those past, present, and future who wear the uniform and who will forever be honored as veterans of our great country.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner).
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans) for yielding me this time, and I thank the chairman for getting this resolution to the floor so quickly, and the ranking member for his support, and the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney) for this marvelous resolution.
I think we have heard how important and how worthy Zach Fisher was, and without understating those achievements I would like to take a few minutes of the time that the Committee on Veterans' Affairs has on the floor today to recognize another person who I think is an honorary member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and that is the staff director of the Subcommittee on Benefits of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs on the Democratic side, Jill T. Cochran. She is retiring from this institution after 25 years of service. Many of us have been taught about the benefits that the veterans are due, from Jill Cochran.
I would say her investment in our veterans is legendary. She served for our esteemed colleague, former Member, Congressman Sonny Montgomery, and made a major contribution to the development of the Montgomery G.I. bill.
She helped to formulate the Transition Assistance Program for separating service members to ease their transition from military to civilian employment. She worked closely on updating the Reemployment Rights for Veterans Program. She has had a great interest in Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Disabled Veterans, just to mention a few of the areas which she has contributed.
She has received awards for her service to veterans for virtually every organization that serves veterans in our Nation. She has worked for such Chairs and ranking members as Bill Hefner, Marvin Leath, Wayne Dowdy, Tim Penny, Sonny Montgomery, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters), the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans), and when he was a Congressman, Senator Tom Daschle.
A mere recitation of Jill's accomplishments do not do her justice. She is a brilliant staff member who is warm and caring, funny and totally charging. She cares deeply about her work, her colleagues, and the Members of Congress for whom she works. But most of all, she cares for our veterans. She, I think, is worthy of the praise of many of us who want to express our gratefulness for her service on the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
So I join my colleagues, both on our committee and the Congress as a whole, to thank Jill Cochran for her professionalism, her dedication, her contribution to the veterans of our Nation. We will miss her.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Foley).
Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentleman from Arizona (Chairman Stump), the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney) for their leadership on this very, very important resolution today.
I come here today to also honor our good friend, Zachary Fisher. Everything has been said that probably can be said about his wonderful dedication to our veterans. Without question, there was no greater hero in the eyes of veterans, of current active-duty personnel, of all the military apparatus than Zachary Fisher.
He not only led the fight, he put his money where his mouth was. He dedicated so much financial resources to American sailors and infantrymen that it is just beyond belief.
But another side of Zachary Fisher I wanted to articulate was the love he had for his friends and his family. His wife Elizabeth, many have spoken about today, was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Many people in his financial position would be able to afford around-the-clock nurses, which he did, and would have been able to keep his wife in a quiet, private place. But Zachary insisted at every function that Elizabeth accompany him to get whatever joy of life remained for that wonderful woman.
Whether we were at La Cirque in New York or the Manalapan Club in Palm Beach, he always insisted that Elizabeth be there at his side, at his table. He would always at any event, whenever they were showering love and affection on Zachary, would stop and say, had it not been for Elizabeth, I could not have done all I have done. He honored and loved his wife and dedicated so much resources to the fight for a cure for Alzheimer's, again a true credit to him.
Billy White is his chief of staff. I know he was like a son to Zachary, and he made Zachary's last years on this Earth exceedingly comfortable. He took care of every arrangement, every detail, and made certain that Zachary wanted for nothing. I know he left this world appreciative of the fact that Billy White served him so capably as chief of staff for his permanent office as well as the chief cheerleader for the Intrepid.
We mentioned the Intrepid, which has seen many great, great extravaganzas on behalf of charities throughout New York, led to the revitalization of the waterfront and the Westside Highway, a phenomenal achievement by one man, one individual to honor the great ship Intrepid.
Mike Stern was mentioned, again a wonderful ally, close advisor, trusted friend who worked tirelessly to make certain Zachary's wishes on every project that he undertook were completed to great success and to great satisfaction.
So as we pay tribute to this veteran, more than anything else than we just speak the name Zachary Fisher, let us hope it instills in the young people of America that freedom is not free, that men and women have fought for the right for us to debate on this House floor, for us to be considered the greatest Nation on Earth because we have the strength and military superiority, came because of people like Zack Fisher who all, while they could not serve personally, dedicated themselves financially to make certain those that did were rewarded, not only in spirit, but in deed.
I know others join me today in saluting this veteran, Zachary Fisher, as we honor and confer on him this status. He has deserved every mention today in the Congressional Record, and we salute him in heaven and thank him for his work here on Earth.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards).
Mr. Speaker, today, this House honors Mr. Zachary Fisher for his generous and tireless efforts on behalf of America's servicemen and women and veterans. I never knew Mr. Fisher personally, but his spirit of gratitude for our veterans and their sacrifices symbolizes America's debt of gratitude owed to all other veterans.
In the spirit of Mr. Fisher, I also want to say thank you to another citizen who has dedicated her adult lifetime to service for our veterans, someone who is about to retire, my friend, the veterans' friend, Mrs. Jill T. Cochran.
For 25 years, Mrs. Cochran has worked as a key staff member on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. For the past 15 years, Mrs. Cochran has been the Democratic staff director of the VA Subcommittee on Benefits, formerly the Subcommittee on Education, Training, Employment and Housing. It is amazing that, in this capacity, she has worked with nine subcommittee chairmen and ranking members.
Millions of veterans, whether they know it by name or not, have benefited from Mrs. Cochran's appreciation for and love of veterans.
Her quiet but effective fingerprints can be found on such major programs as the Montgomery G.I. bill, the Emergency Veterans Job Training Act, vocational rehabilitation for service, disabled veterans, and oversight of veterans preference in Federal jobs, only to mention a few.
Mrs. Cochran has received more awards from veterans' organizations than any of us has time to list. But I have to believe that, as appreciative as I know Jill must be of these awards, I have got a feeling that her greatest satisfaction in her 25 years of work for veterans would be that her father, a distinguished veterans of World War II and former chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, would be proud of her.
Mr. Teague, Tiger Teague, affectionately known as Mr. Veteran in this House for so many years, is now in his final resting place next to General Omar Bradley, the people's general, in Arlington National Cemetery.
But I have to think that his spirit is soaring today with the belief, the understanding that his daughter has carried on the Teague family tradition of service to America's veterans.
To Jill Cochran, my friend, I say, thank you. To Mrs. Freddie Teague, Jill's mother, I say, Job well done. To my political mentor, Tiger Teague, I say that his spirit and legacy lives on through his family and his daughter.
My colleagues, it is amazing to think that, in a few days, for the first time since 1946, there will not be a Teague in the U.S. Capitol, fighting for veterans in association with the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. But I know that the Teagues' love of veterans and their impact upon them will last far into the 21st century.
To Zachary Fisher, to Jill Teague Cochran, let me say, on behalf of all of my colleagues, thank you for not letting our veterans ever be forgotten.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler).
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Joint Resolution 46, to confer honorary veteran status upon Zachary Fisher.
Zachary Fisher made his career in the construction business and contributed some of the most important buildings to the New York City skyline. But his passion was for the men and women who served this Nation in the military. He championed this cause up until his death earlier this year.
Zack Fisher was unable to serve in the military himself because of a leg injury sustained in a construction accident, but he became perhaps this Nation's most devoted advocate for the armed forces. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to causes that supported and honored the veterans and service members of the United States military. He served as honorary chairman of the board of directors of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the Coast Guard Foundation.
He established the annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine. He founded the Fisher House to build homes for families of hospitalized military personnel. He gave generously to numerous philanthropic organizations that aid service men and women.
But perhaps his most important legacy was the creation of the Intrepid Museum Foundation. In 1978, he spearheaded an effort to save the battle-scarred aircraft carrier Intrepid from the scrap heap and turned it instead into the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in 1982. Located on the Hudson River in my district, the Intrepid is a floating museum that hosts over 500,000 visitors each year of all ages and from all parts of the world. It educates thousands of school children each year and offers after-school and summer programs as well as vocational training and counseling.
His tireless advocacy of causes related to the U.S. armed forces have earned him the Horatio Alger Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our Nation's highest civilian honor.
Mr. Speaker, Zachary Fisher gave his life giving to men and women who serve this Nation in the armed forces, even though he himself was not able it. I know of no better way to honor his memory than to confer upon him the status of honorary veteran. I myself consider myself privileged to have known him.
Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions).
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump), the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs for yielding me the time.
Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record the following letters honoring Zack Fisher, written by political and military leaders, as follows:
Dear Elizabeth: It was with an extremely heavy heart that I heard of Zachary's passing. Please know that Zandi and I are praying for you and your entire family as you struggle to cope with this tragedy. I have no illusion that my personal pain is in any way comparable to your own. I do, however, want you to know that Zandi and I, and your entire Marine Corps family, are grieving with you and want to help in any way we can. We are here for you. If you need anything-- anything at all--do not hesitate to ask. Zachary was one of the greatest patriots this country has ever known. He did so much for our service men and women; it is difficult to put into words what his life meant to us. He was the quintessential ``good man'' and a fine American. We shall--all of us--miss him very much. I am so very sorry for your loss. May God bless you and hold you in the palms of His hands. Sincerely,
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Con. Res. 46, legislation to confer honorary veterans status on Zachary Fisher. Designating Zachary Fisher an honorary veteran offers Congress an opportunity to express our gratitude to an individual who has done so much for our country and for those who fight to protect our freedom.
We also give thanks and recognition to his wife, Elizabeth, and his family for their lifetime support of the United States armed forces.
Zachary Fisher selflessly gave his time, energy, and strength to the country that he loved very much. As the United States became involved in World War II, Zack Fisher quit his job in the construction industry with the hopes of joining the armed forces, but was denied enlistment due to a leg injury.
Being unable to join the armed forces was devastating to Zack Fisher. However, it did not take him long to find another way to participate in the war effort. He used his construction know-how to build coastal defenses along our United States coast along with the Army Corps of Engineers.
After the war, Zack Fisher achieved great success in the construction industry, helping to shape the skyline of New York City. Despite being unable to serve in the military, Zack Fisher decided to share his success with those who served on the battlefield to protect our freedom and was especially generous in helping the families of those who died for our country.
Mr. Fisher spearheaded an effort to preserve the USS Intrepid as a floating museum honoring American veterans. The Intrepid, which is now permanently docked in Manhattan, commemorates the bravery and sacrifice of our own forces and is visited by hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
Mr. Fisher, along with his wife, also established the Elizabeth and Zachary Fisher Armed Services Foundation to provide financial assistance to families of those who gave their lives in service to our country. The foundation also provides scholarships to the children of those heroes.
In 1990, the Fishers were told the story of a wife of veterans who could not afford to stay at a hotel near the VA hospital where her husband was receiving treatment. Inspired by this, the Fishers built homes near veterans hospitals designed to keep family members comfortable and to be close to their loved ones. Despite this generosity, Mr. Fisher never stepped into the limelight. He chose to let his work and his gifts speak for themselves.
Mr. Fisher never stopped working for our Nation's veterans until his death last summer at the age of 88.
Mr. Speaker, Zachary Fisher's generosity and patriotism is an inspiration to all of us. Congress should recognize his legacy of respect for those who protect our freedom by passing this legislation and conferring honorary veteran status to Zachary Fisher.
Mr. Speaker, Zachary Fisher was a personal friend of this country; he was a fine American, patriot, and a long-time friend to my family and my father, who knew him when he served in the Bush and Reagan administrations. I also greatly appreciate knowing Zachary Fisher.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank also, in particular, the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney) for sponsoring this legislation, as well as the chairman of the committee, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump); and I would like to thank the Committee on Veterans' Affairs for working with me on this to bring it to the House floor.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney).
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and on behalf of the family, Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher, Anthony Fisher, Richard Fisher, Arnold Fisher, Michael Stern, Billy White, and many others, I would like to place in the Record, along with my colleagues in this bipartisan effort, letters from President Clinton, former President Bush, the former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, prominent religious leaders, political leaders, and many, many friends and supporters.
Dear Elizabeth: We were so saddened to learn of Zachary's death and wanted to extend our deepest sympathy to you and your family during this difficult time. As demonstrated by Zachary's remarkable career and extraordinary awards such as the Presidential Citizens Medal and the National Medal of Freedom, he was a noble and wonderful individual who well deserved his reputation as a patriot and humanitarian. His contributions to our country are an example for us all. From his support to American armed forces and their families, to his distinguished commitment against the struggle of Alzheimer's disease, he'll long be remembered and deeply missed by those who were privileged to know him and to be inspired by his generosity and service. With lasting gratitude and respect to Zachary's accomplishments, we send our heartfelt condolences to you, Larry, Ginny, and all of your family. We'll be keeping you all in our prayers. Sincerely, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bill Clinton.
The Honorable Rudolph W. Giuliani, The Mayor of the City of New York
Thank you. Distinguished guests. Governor Pataki, all of the distinguished members of the military, elected officials, in particular, Larry Fisher and members of the Fisher family and the family of the Intrepid, today we finally get to show our gratitude to Zach. We finally get to turn in some small way the stream of generosity that has flowed only one way toward us to him, and to thank him and to let all of you in the Fisher family know how important he is to everyone in the City of New York and throughout the United States. What is it that fueled Zach's extraordinary generosity, his extraordinary sense of obligation? I believe it was that Zachary Fisher understood in a very deep and profound sense that freedom is retained only through dedication, commitment and sacrifice, that the wonderful blessings that we have as Americans that make us the luckiest people on the face of the earth do not happen by accident. They happen because there are men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to create it, to protect it and to expand it. At the very core of his being, he understood our obligation to them and then expressed it in a way that most of us are incapable of doing because of the great love and generosity of spirit that he had. One week ago today was Memorial Day here in New York City. We celebrated it as we do now every year because of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, on the Intrepid. Rather than being turned into a scrap heap, this ship stands as a proud tribute to the American military and as a very, very strong reminder of the price that we're going to be called on to pay, both now and in the future. A personal note of debt of gratitude to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher: Donna's father and my father-in-law, Lt. Commander Bob Kofnovec, served on this ship in the latter part of World War II. To see him return to this ship with his grandson and his granddaughter and explain to them about what it was like to return from a mission, what it was like to land with the slightly warped deck, to see him take them around and show them where he served in the noble cause of defending freedom and to pass on to them that feeling and that sense is a debt that I owe personally to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher. But I am not alone in owing that debt; thousands and thousands and thousands of other Americans owe that debt to him also. So for my wife, and for me, I say thank you, very, very much. It's no surprise that Zach Fisher built this museum. He began building when he was very, very young. At 16 years old he began in the construction business. He and his brothers and family built much of what you see in the most magnificent skyline in the world. It is sometimes described as the eighth wonder of the world, except a wonder that is created by human hands. Zach's hands were one of the most significant in creating it. Many, many people would have been more than justified in being satisfied with that contribution. Instead, after he made that contribution, enough to be placed in a very special place of honor among his fellow New Yorkers, Zach decided to give back even more to the men and women of our military to help to preserve and then to create this museum, to make certain that the men and women of our military understand that at times of greatest loss there are citizens that care about them. Beyond what he's done for the military, I should also tell you that he includes in that family the men and women of our police department and the men and women of our fire department. When they have a loss, he is there to financially support them and to morally support them. I believe it is not coincidental in some plan that exists. When Zach died the other day, within a few hours we lost Capt. Vincent Fowler, who died in the line of duty in Queens fighting a fire to try to protect the lives of others. I bet somehow that Zach and Fire Captain Vincent Fowler--Capt. Fowler is to be buried tomorrow--are standing in heaven and they're looking down and they're saying thank you to each other, Zach saying thank you to Capt. Fowler for putting his life at risk to save others, and Capt. Fowler saying thank you for taking care of his wife and his three children who are left behind. Zach Fisher wasn't an accident either. He is a product of this beautiful, strong and loving family. His generosity of spirit was not his alone, it is all of yours. As the Mayor of New York City, I thank you for what you've given us, the City of New York. As an American, I thank you for what you have given the men and women who pay the extra price. As a father, I particularly say thank you for what you've done for my children and my family. Thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time to just thank all of those that took the time to pay tribute to this great American, one of the best friends probably that the military has ever had.
I also want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans) for his cooperation in bringing this bill to the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.J. Res. 46 which honors Zachary Fisher as an honorary veteran. His lifetime support of our military and veterans clearly justifies naming him as an honorary veteran.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Mr. Fisher was told he could not serve in the Armed Forces due to a serious knee injury sustained in a construction accident. Determined to do his part, Mr. Fisher used his expertise in construction to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers build coastal fortifications. His dedication to the Armed Services continued after the war. Over many decades, he lent his full support to the U.S. military and their families. Mr. Fisher established the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation to serve as a support agency for both military personnel and their families affected by service-related accidents. To date, hundreds of families from all branches of the armed services have benefited from this foundation's support. In addition, the Fisher Armed Services Foundation provides educational scholarship funds to Armed Services personnel and their families. Since 1987, more than 700 students have received scholarships of between $500 and $2,500, allowing them to pursue education opportunities which otherwise would not have been possible.
Moreover, in 1990, Mr. Fisher established the Fisher House Program. Under this program he dedicated more than $15 million for the construction of temporary homes for the families of military personnel receiving care at major military treatment facilities and VA Medical Centers. The houses provide support for families as they serve as a ``home away from home.'' One of these houses is located in my district at Fort Bliss. The presence of a Fisher House in El Paso, and throughout military bases around the country, help ease the minds of America's finest and their families during times of illness.
Mr. Fisher, as exemplified by these philanthropic efforts on behalf of our Nation's veteran's and military, established himself as one of our most dedicated patriots. Through these charitable acts, and numerous others in various civic and community efforts, he set a tremendous example for all Americans to follow. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to honor Zachary Fisher by unanimously supporting H.J. Res. 46.
Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Stump) that the House suspend the rules and pass the joint resolution, H.J. Res. 46.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the joint resolution was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
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