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Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 18, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, I am here today to join some of my fellow Senators here to talk about giving thanks to our military servicemembers and our veterans. Certainly, this is the thankful and grateful season that we are heading into. I think November has a lot of celebratory times both for our families and also for our veterans and military families.

There is no question that this year has been most different and has looked very different than most. We have faced so many challenges and adjusted to a new norm of teleworking, telehealth, telecommuting, all kinds of different ways to communicate on our devices, FaceTiming--I do a lot of FaceTiming with my family--and other socially distanced activities, and I don't see that coming to an end in the near future. But in the midst of all of this, we certainly do have so much to be grateful for and thankful for.

A little fun fact is, I was actually born on Thanksgiving Day, and my parents always joked that they were going to name me ``Thankful Ever Moore'' because my last name was Moore at the time. And while my parents, thankfully, decided to go a different route with my name, the meaning still holds true today.

It is true because I am thankful evermore for many things, especially, as I said, as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, which is just around the corner. And it is going to look a little bit different for a lot of people, but that doesn't mean it can't be just as special.

I am thankful evermore for my own personal good health and that of my family's. I am very, very grateful and thankful for the first responders and the essential workers and now those workers in the hospitals who are really seeing a lot more patients coming in with COVID. I think about the grocery store workers, the truckers, and others who have really kept life moving during those first months when we weren't sure how to cope.

I am very grateful for my wonderful community of Charleston, WV, where I have lived for over 40 years. And I am very grateful for the opportunity and the honor of a lifetime to represent the people of West Virginia in the U.S. Senate. I am grateful for our country and all of the great American thoughts and prayers that have carried many of us through these last few months.

But I am especially thankful and grateful for the brave servicemembers who have put their lives on the line for our country year after year. I am grateful for the many veterans who have come before them and for the military families from all over the country who support the men and women who serve.

Just last week, we celebrated Veterans Day. It is always a very special, kind of solemn day in our State, and it is very well attended. This year we couldn't have the parades. We did a lot of virtual celebrations, but it was no less special. This is a day to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, both past and present, who have stood up to protect the freedoms that we hold dear.

Our military is undoubtedly the very greatest in the world. From the ``greatest generation'' to our younger soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of our soldiers have served admirably, and I am pleased to be serving with some who have not just served several years ago but in recent times.

My home State of West Virginia has a long and proud history of answering the call of duty. I think we have the highest percentage per capita of military veterans.

I am the proud daughter of a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient. I grew up hearing stories about heroism displayed on and off the battlefield and have always been in awe of those who have served this country.

Interestingly, too, in hearing my father's generation talk about their service to the country, it was always framed in terms of duty and love of country and never in terms of ``I had to do this'' or ``my parents thought it was a good idea.'' These were things deeply held inside of those veterans who wanted to be a part of something that they held dear--their love of country, their love of freedom, their love of liberty.

Woody Williams is one of those individuals who lives in my State. Many of you have seen them. He did the coin flip at the Super Bowl last year, I think. I continue to be inspired by him every day. I have mentioned him more than a few times on the Senate floor, as have all of our proud West Virginians. He is a proud West Virginian himself and is one of the last remaining Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. He turned 97 last month.

He valiantly fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and rightfully earned the military's most prestigious medal for his actions during the war. We are so proud of him and all he does with our Gold Star families. We have memorials all throughout our State and across the country, where Woody inspires not just those who have served but those who support and the families who support those who serve. So we are very proud to call him our West Virginia own. We did rename the VA center, hospital, in Huntington after Woody. We had a grand opening. It was really fun.

Whether it be the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the first Gulf war, the ongoing fight against terrorism in the Middle East, and all the conflicts that America has fought, our country's servicemembers have made the ultimate sacrifices to keep our liberties intact.

Sometimes I think people get kind of down about where are we going, and it seems like we don't have the optimism as a country. Do you know what? I am very optimistic because of what I am talking about today.

Without the sacrifices of men and women, we would not be able to have these many freedoms, and it is important to remember those men and women who have supportive family members.

It is fitting also that this month is Military Family Appreciation Month. I think about the different moves or the nights of sleeplessness where you are unsure where your loved one is or how they are serving. This is a month to honor and recognize the sacrifices and challenges that military families face while supporting these brave men and women.

Our military families do face unique challenges, and I think here in this body we take that into consideration quite a bit when we are looking at appropriations and ways to help our families. We are forever indebted to the sacrifices they make as their loved ones are fighting for our freedoms. They are often the ones behind the scenes, faced with difficult decisions every single day, and it is not easy.

I have had the chance to meet many military families and hear about their experiences firsthand, and I have also heard from many of our own here, particularly Senator Joni Ernst, who served as well and is a veteran. Senator Martha McSally is also one of those whom I have been fascinated to hear her path and her service.

Whether it is our current servicemembers, veterans, or military families, we are so grateful for their service. It is because of their sacrifice and courage that we are able to enjoy these freedoms and liberties that we all cherish.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank a veteran, a servicemember, and in this environment, a frontline worker, an essential worker-- someone who is giving of themselves, sacrificing time with their family and, in some way, putting themselves in precarious situations with meeting the health challenges of COVID.

At the same time, this should not be limited to just Thanksgiving or to Veterans Day or Military Family Appreciation Month. We should be doing this every day, and we should be making sure that those who serve know our appreciation, that those who serve know--like the Senator from North Dakota, who is going to be after me--that their long history of service in our States--and, certainly, the Presiding Officer's State as well--all across this country are not going without recognition.

Without this great sacrifice and dedication to defending the flag, this country would not be what it is today. I mentioned how optimistic and grateful and thankful I am to be an American.

While this year has thrown a lot our way, and it may be difficult to see some of the positives, we must always remember that we have much to be thankful for.

Thank you.