[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 68 (Friday, May 26, 2006)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E997-E998]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              MEMORIAL DAY


                          HON. HENRY A. WAXMAN

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 25, 2006

  Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to all those who have 
fallen in the defense of our country. Each year, Memorial Day is a 
special time to honor the departed, support the wounded, and praise the 
enduring commitment of all those who serve.
   In my district this weekend, the white headstones of the Los Angeles 
National Cemetery will be surrounded with flowers and families. Amid 
the bustle of West Los Angeles, this serene and mournful field honors 
the great sacrifice that has sustained our blessed country and the core 
values we cherish.
   My district is also home to the West Los Angeles Veterans 
Administration, which is the

[[Page E998]]

largest VA facility in the continental United States. The land was 
generously donated after the Civil War to serve as an old soldiers home 
and I am pleased that efforts are finally underway to move toward this 
goal with plans for a State Veterans Home on the property. We must 
continue, however, to expand other services and programs to meet 
veterans' needs. I remain deeply opposed to the VA's consideration of 
plans to divert portions of the property for commercial use. I am 
determined to continue working with local veterans groups, local 
officials, and the surrounding community to ensure that the entire 
property is preserved for programs that benefit and serve our veterans.
   The sanctity of our battlefields, monuments, and veterans 
institutions is of utmost importance to preserve military history and 
pay respect to those who fought. I would like to take this opportunity 
to recognize the efforts of my constituent Leon Cooper, a World War II 
veteran of the Pacific Theater, who has been working to raise awareness 
about the build-up of garbage and refuse at the site of the Battle of 
Red Beach on Tarawa Atoll in the remote island nation of Kiribati. 
Nearly 1,000 Marines were killed and over 2,000 were wounded during 
heavy fighting over the span of just a few days in November 1943. I 
applaud Mr. Cooper for his commitment.
   Although Tarawa has a monument to the Marines who died on Red Beach, 
heavy construction in the area has spurred an effort to find a new 
location closer to the battle site itself. I fully support this effort, 
which would also create an opportunity for the 2nd Marine division to 
restore the beach to a more appropriate and respectable condition. I 
encourage our local U.S. Embassy in Fiji to work with the Government of 
Kiribati on sanitation and conservation projects that would provide 
long-term solutions for maintaining the coastline and preserving the 
area. It would be a tribute to our veterans and a benefit to the 
Kiribati people.
   And while we honor generations past, we must also be keenly aware of 
the needs of soldiers now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is 
unacceptable that returning veterans are facing unreasonable delays 
obtaining care and benefits. The number of new enrollees waiting for 
their first appointment at the VA has doubled in the past year. I am 
deeply concerned about the inadequate screening and services for the 
more than \1/3\ of returning troops who seek mental health care. It is 
imperative that we fight the budget cuts and misplaced priorities that 
have led to this deplorable situation.
   As we observe Memorial Day, let us give thanks to all of our brave 
men and women who have stood in harm's way or stand there today, far 
from home, living at great risk, and fighting under the stars and 
stripes. We owe them an enduring debt of gratitude.