Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of this great day in American history--the day that marks the end of the Iraq war. Although for years we all hoped and prayed that this day would come, there is an overwhelming feeling of relief when hope becomes a reality. Today we stand together as a nation and rejoice as we look forward to the return of thousands of men and women whose countless sacrifices, remarkable service, and enormous achievements in the name of our great Nation will never be forgotten.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans served in the war in Iraq, with 30,000 wounded and nearly 4,500 casualties. In my district, we suffered the loss of 12 remarkable servicemen. We remember Long Beach residents: Pfc. Stephen A. Castellano; Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. Collins; Sgt. Anthony J. Davis, Jr.; Sgt. Israel Garcia; Pvt. Ernesto R. Guerra; Pfc. Lyndon A. Marcus, Jr.; Spec. Roberto L. Martinez Salazar; Spec. Astor A. SunsinPineda; Pfc. David T. Toomalatai; Pfc. George D. Torres; and Staff Sgt. Joshua Whitaker, as well as Carson resident Pfc. Daniel P. Cagle of Carson who were all killed in action.
Perhaps the most consequential victory of the War on Terror came earlier this year when Osama bin Laden's life was finally ended by a group of Navy SEALs who deftly carried-out a covert operation at bin Laden's secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I am extremely thankful for President Obama and his Administration's firm leadership in the effort to bring bin Laden to justice. With a renewed sense that justice has been served, we must return our focus now to protecting our citizens at home, and assuring our veterans a prosperous future.
As President Obama said earlier today ``It's important for us to express our thanks in words, but it's even more for us to express our thanks in deeds.'' It is now our turn to stand up for our troops at home as they courageously stood up for us in battle.
Our troops are returning home to a tough economy. They are returning home to an unemployment rate for veterans that is 2.5% higher than the national average. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put aside our differences and come together in our commitment to ensure veterans returning home receive all the resources they need. No measure of action we take in Congress can ever truly repay our troops for their sacrifices, but I vow to do all that I can to ensure that the country they fought and sacrificed for gives back to them all that they deserve.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, while keeping the American people safe should always be our top priority, now we must refocus our priorities and our resources into protecting our homeland, educating, training and employing the American workforce, and ensuring our veterans a prosperous future in the nation they fought to defend. Over the last ten years, American taxpayers have spent billions rebuilding Iraq. We must now be willing to make the same investment of time and resources to rebuild our economy so that it provides a standard of living and quality of life worthy of the heroic sacrifices made by the men and women who risked their lives to defend our way of life and freedom.
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