Madam Speaker, ``On fame's eternal camping ground, their silent tents are spread, and glory guards with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead.''
These words are etched in Arlington National Cemetery, not far from this Capitol, the eternal resting place for those soldiers who gave all they had in pursuit of American freedom. The rows and rows of pristine white headstones silently speak of what it means to be an American warrior: bravery, courage, honor, duty. These are the individuals who knew it was their calling to be a part of the greatest military force in the United States history, and they did not run from that calling. They accepted it willingly and helped headed off into the dawn of battle.
Army Private First Class Zachary Endsley was an individual who understood that being a military soldier was his calling. A native of Spring, Texas, PFC Endsley was a young man with a quiet personality and loved to play practical jokes on family and friends.
An appreciater of the arts, Endsley enjoyed drawing and playing his guitar. It was his drawing ability that stood out. In high school, he entered and won a poster contest with his design.
PFC Endsley had been hearing the calling to become an American warrior for many years in his young life. He joined the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer organization with the United States Air Force when he was just a teenager. He was also involved in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Oak Ridge High School.
After graduating from high school in 2004, just 3 years ago, he attended local community college but realized that college wasn't really for him. But he was enthralled with the military, and after putting off the calling to be a soldier for long enough, he knew it was time to pursue a career in the United States Army.
His family was proud of his decision to serve in the Army, and he enlisted in the Army in 2005. Endsley excelled in his military placement test for the Army and had the distinct honor of being able to choose the job he wanted to hold. He chose the infantry.
Infantrymen are on the front line, he said. They are the first through the door and the first into danger. They are courageously fierce and commandingly fearless patriots. It is no wonder PFC Endsley wanted to be a part of this band of brothers.
PFC Endsley understood the Nation was at war, yet he chose to charge headlong into battle. There are not many of us who would be willing to volunteer to leap into the lion's den of Iraq or Afghanistan where the cowardly enemy hides in caves. It says something special about the quality of this American fighting man that he would boldly face those who would kill in the name of religion.
This is a recent photograph of PFC Endsley. He was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment in Hohnefels, Germany. From Germany, this soldier was dispatched to Afghanistan. He never really told his family where he was going because he didn't want them to worry about him.
But on Monday, 4 days ago, July 23, 2007, PFC Zachary Endsley's unit came under fire by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. In the midst of this battle, his vehicle was assaulted with rocket-propelled grenade fire. PFC Endsley was killed in action. He was 21 years of age. He was supposed to come back to Texas in just 3 weeks.
Madam Speaker, PFC Zachary Endsley was a true soldier. According to a family friend, he joined the Army to provide others with the freedoms that we as Americans have. What a noble thought.
As an infantryman in Afghanistan fighting the forces of the Taliban, Endsley defended that freedom. He defended it for his mother, Melinda; his stepfather, David; his father, Terry; his brother, Aaron; his stepsisters, Katie and Kimberly; and all of their families.
He went to Afghanistan and defended freedom in a land he had never seen for a people he did not know. This son of Texas and American patriot will return home to his birthplace and receive a victor's homecoming. Those who he protected will line the streets, as the small towns in southeast Texas always do when their fallen come home. And they will bid a silent and proud farewell to a soldier they might not have had the privilege to know, but they will always be grateful to.
Amazing people these young volunteers of the United States Army.
So, Madam Speaker, tonight the bugles of taps are silent in the cemetery of the fallen. ``In simple obedience to duty, they suffered all, sacrificed all, and dared all.''
PFC Zachary Endsley, your tour of duty has been honorably concluded.
And that's just the way it is.