- - Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the measure before the House today directs the Architect of the Capitol to obtain a chair featuring the logo of the National League of POW/MIA Families and to prominently place it on display in the U.S. Capitol.

As members of Congress, certainly we each represent diverse congressional districts, but one of the things that ties us together are the many brave men and women we represent who stood on the battle lines in defense of our nation’s freedom, our liberty, and our way of life.

This legislation introduced by our colleague, Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, honors American prisoners of war and Americans missing in action. The chair will serve as a permanent reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by those who served our country and were taken as POWs or listed as MIA.

The importance of remembering and honoring their great sacrifice can never be overstated. Our nation has a responsibility to them and to their families who have shared in their sacrifice, and we must never forget.

Our heroes deserve to be honored, especially in the U.S. Capitol, which is itself a symbol of our American beliefs and the liberties and freedoms that they sacrificed to defend.

This chair will honor veterans like Sam Johnson, one of our colleagues here in the House. Sam is one of the most stalwart protectors of those who have served and who himself endured nearly seven years as a POW, including 42 months in solitary confinement, in the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

Forty-three years ago, Sam Johnson returned to the United States to be reunited with his loved ones, and we are so honored to have the privilege to serve with him today here in this House.

In addition to Sam Johnson, Mr. Speaker, when I think about the meaning behind this memorial, I think about an individual who lives in my district. His first name is Donald, but we all call him Digger, Digger O’Dell.

Digger enlisted in 1952 into the Air Force. He was shot down in October of 1967, and he, like Sam, was a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton, in Digger’s case, for five and a half years. Thankfully, Digger made it home, as Sam did, after all of those years in a North Vietnamese camp. He is now in his 80s and serves as a member of our local air base community council and chairs a fundraising event for the Special Olympics. Digger is a remarkable man. He is one of many who selflessly served our nation facing enormous adversity.

I might even mention my husband, who was a fighter pilot and is a proud member of Vietnam Veterans of America and is now a proud member of Chapter 154 of the VVA in Macomb County, which is actually one the largest chapters in our entire nation.

Again, Mr. Speaker, these heroes who so bravely served our nation deserve to be honored, especially in the U.S. Capitol, and certainly this chair with the MIA/POW logo on it will forever demonstrate that we will never forget.

Republican Rep. Candice S. Miller is chairwoman of the House Administration Committee and represents the 10th District in Michigan. Her remarks are excerpted from the Congressional Record of March 21, 2016.

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