At Memorial Church in Cambridge, a place where I learned a lot about the importance of service to our country, an inscription commemorating World War I veterans reads, “While a bright future beckoned, they freely gave their lives and fondest hopes for us and our allies that we might learn from them courage in peace to spend our lives making a better world for others.”
These words guided me in my service over four tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps infantry, and they still guide me today.
The war in Iraq was a mistake. But, as a Marine, I knew that I never wanted someone else to go in my place. So I proudly served. I don’t know any veteran who would act differently, and now, many of us want to continue serving at home.
This Memorial Day, let us not only look back and honor those who gave their lives in service to the nation; let us also look forward to what we can do for this new generation of returning veterans, and what they can continue to do for the country.
While in Iraq, I saw firsthand the consequences of poor leadership in Washington. I was in a war where Congress voted to send us into combat, and then voted against the necessary equipment to keep us alive. We had to use sheet metal cut-outs for doors on the sides of our Humvees to protect ourselves from roadside bombs.
We went through a lot, and some have called us “the next Greatest Generation” as a result.
But the Greatest Generation was not called the greatest in 1946. They earned that title, in the 1990s, as much for what they did after the war as for what they did in it.
They went back to school on the GI Bill. They worked hard and created a strong middle class that thrived for decades. They tore down the barriers of segregation. They took us to the moon.
Our newest generation of veterans has the ability and desire to help lead us through the new century. We were trained to respond to challenges. We were trained to serve.
Congress has a role to play in all of these things. We count on Congress to work to improve education and help create an environment where the middle class thrives. We count on Congress to support equality for all Americans and inspire us to take on the next great challenges.
But, today, we have the least effective Congress in our nation’s history. If Congress is broken now, what does that say about our future?
I’m running for Congress because I want to continue to serve and continue to make “a better world for others.” I’m running to fight for the middle class by supporting not only a minimum wage, but a living wage. I’m running to invest in our nation’s future through high quality education and equal rights for all Americans.
And I’m running to advocate for our veterans, because unlike members of Congress who pay lip service to taking care of those who served, I actually understand the challenges our veterans face.
This Memorial Day, let us honor our veterans not only by remembering their past service, but by dreaming of the future we can build together.
Read my full piece in the Lynn Item here.