On this day, five years ago, one of my constituents—Mr. Victor Lovelady—was brutally killed at the hands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Algeria. Victor was killed not just for who he was, but also for what he represented. He was killed because he was an American. Before his death, Victor displayed some of the very best qualities of the American spirit: courage, conviction, and compassion. This is the American spirit terrorists that seek to kill. But today and every day, we let Mr. Lovelady’s spirit live on. I would like to take a moment to tell you his story.
Like many Americans, Victor Lovelady was a hard worker who put in long hours to provide for his family of four. As an industrial engineer and master electrician, he worked most of his life in his hometown of Nederland, Texas. Victor never had a pension plan and always had to pay his family's insurance by himself. So, when given the opportunity to work overseas for British Petroleum, Victor knew a few years of hard work would provide him with enough money to retire. He made a sacrifice for his family.
On January 9, 2013, Victor arrived in a remote area of Algeria to begin his new job at the BP Gas facility. Seven days later, Victor and several other workers were in the cantina having tea when a colleague walked in with a gunshot wound to his stomach. Al Qaeda-linked terrorists had stormed their facility and were indiscriminately killing innocent employees.
In the ultimate show of heroism, Victor disregarded the sound of gunfire and instead began cleaning and dressing his colleagues wound. Victor then hid him in a food container for his safety. Even as the sound of gunshots grew louder, Victor selflessly continued to lift the other men into the cantina’s false ceiling, hiding them from the attackers. Moments later, the terrorists stormed in, captured Victor, and held him hostage. Victor’s selfless and heroic actions saved four lives that day. Sadly, Victor was killed when US and Algerian forces attempted to rescue the hostages.
Victor Lovelady was a true American hero. He represented the very best of America; he represented selfless courage and sacrifice. He was there to work hard to provide an honest living for his family and when he encountered the evil of terrorism, thought first to protect others instead of himself. For his actions, I have requested that Victor be recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor to recognize individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution” to our society. Victor undoubtedly exceeded that standard.
While we continue to mourn their loss we should, to quote General George Patton: ``Thank God that such men lived.''
Mr. Speaker, courage like this should be praised and remembered. We should all take a moment today to reflect on the heroism of Victor Lovelady. He was a great man and his legacy continues through his family: his wife, Maureen, his two children, Erin and Grant, and his brother, Mike.May we continue to honor the sacrifice that Victor Lovelady made as a courageous husband, father, and American. And that's just the way it is.