Mr. Speaker, "The soldier is the Army," and "wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men." While we mourn those men who die, "we should thank God such men ever lived." These are the words of General George Patton in World War II.
Mr. Speaker, one of those soldiers was Specialist Donald E. Valentine III of the United States Army. He was born in Houston, Texas, on March 5, 1986. Donald Valentine joined the United States Army because of the 9/11 attack on this country.
His mother Anna said, "My husband and I were behind Donald 100 percent. I was so proud of him no matter what he ever did. He made me very proud to be his mother." Words from another of America's Gold Star Mothers.
I met Anna Valentine and many members of the Valentine family recently at Veterans National Cemetery in Houston, where mothers like Anna, who had children killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were being honored. We call those noble women Gold Star Mothers. Anna Valentine's son is buried on that hallowed ground of the fallen in Houston, Texas.
Specialist Valentine was killed along with two other soldiers on September 18, 2007, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when an IED, an improvised explosive device, detonated near him.
Mr. Speaker, you understand the use of an IED by America's enemy is a coward's way of fighting the war. These enemies rant and rave and preach hate in the name of religion, but they cover their faces with masks and hide in caves and dark, dusty ditches. They are afraid to come out in the open and face the American soldier. So our enemy detonates remote-controlled bombs.
Specialist Donald Valentine III comes from a military family. His father, Donald II, is a Navy veteran. His brother Daniel wanted to enlist to be with his brother Donald in Iraq, and Daniel, 19, still intends to join the military. Mr. Speaker, America owes much to families like the Valentines.
Donald was married 1 year to Lucia, who said "Donald had all the qualities any girl would want." She had talked to Donald on their first anniversary, 3 days before his death in Iraq. Specialist Valentine told his family that, "if he did not survive the war, they should stay strong." He is the 91st fallen servicemember with ties to the Houston area to have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Specialist Donald Valentine was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, Washington.
Being from a military family, he moved around a lot as a child. He lived in Florida most of his life and in Idaho, but wanted to be buried in "Big H," as he called Houston, Texas, because of many reasons. One of those reasons was because he spent so much time growing up with his grandparents who live in Houston. Mr. Speaker, Donald's grandparents, Thomas and Lupe Cortez, and his other grandmother Geneva Fernandez, survive their grandson.
As a grandfather of five with two more grandkids on the way, I think it would be a most difficult task to bury a grandson in the vigor of his youth.
In the official statement on Donald's death, the family said, "Donald touched the lives of so many with his big heart. We will cherish the beautiful memories we shared with you. You made us so very proud. Now heaven has another hero. And, continue to watch over us as an angel in heaven."
On September 28, 2007, taps played for the last time as 21 guns saluted this American soldier. This is a photograph of Donald Valentine III.
A statement has been credited to one of Rome's centurions when he told his troops, "How you yet live will echo throughout eternity." Specialist Valentine lived a short but faithful life to the things that were important to him: family and country. He was 21 when he was killed.
Mr. Speaker, General George Patton was right about such warriors. We should thank God that such men as Specialist Donald Valentine III ever lived.
And that's just the way it is.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH