Victims' Rights Caucus



Madam Speaker, in America's first war fighting for freedom it was said by Patrick Henry, the great orator, "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active and to the brave." We are fortunate that those words still ring true today and that American soldiers overseas carry those values into battle.

   One such warrior was Staff Sergeant Eric Duckworth. Army Staff Sergeant Eric Duckworth was killed in the line of duty in Iraq just a few days ago, on October 10, when he was leading a convoy and his vehicle was hit by an IED, an improvised explosive device, on the side of the road.

   Madam Speaker, Sergeant Duckworth was 26 years of age and on his second tour in Iraq. He graduated from Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, in 1999, and while in high school, he wanted to participate in the military, so he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps, the ROTC. Of course, as soon as he graduated from high school, he joined the United States Army.

   His parents, Michael and Barbara Duckworth, of The Woodlands, Texas, say that for as long as they can remember, their son Eric wanted to serve his country in public service both in law enforcement and in the military. His father, Michael, described him as an outgoing and good-humored son. He further said, "Eric was full of love and laughter and a Godly spirit, but, above all, he was a true soldier and a proud warrior."

   When I talked to Michael about his son Eric, he told me that Eric's only two wishes were that he serve in the military and that he also serve in law enforcement. Those wishes were granted when he was a military police officer and also a member of the United States Army.

   Sergeant Duckworth was also a husband and a father. He is survived by his wife of 5 years, Sonya, and they have three children: Kaylynn, age 10; Madison, age 4; and young Michael, age 1. Eric's mom, Barbara, would send what I call "care packages" overseas to her son Eric, and what she included in those packages tells us a lot about Eric and his personality. He received beef jerky, bubble gum, NASCAR magazines, and Dallas Cowboy T-shirts.

   Eric said that the Iraqi people were grateful to Americans for their sacrifice in Iraq. Sergeant Duckworth also said it was his destiny and his belief that he should be an American soldier. He shared that belief with his mother in their last conversation they had together before he was killed in Iraq.

   Madam Speaker, Eric's father spoke of his pride in his son's firm belief and dedication to the mission in Iraq. Eric's father, Michael, said Eric believed in his purpose, and his children, his nieces, his nephews will all grow up in a better world because of Eric's dedication to America.

   So not only Eric, but the whole Duckworth family felt it was important that Staff Sergeant Eric Duckworth serve in the United States Army overseas. Sergeant Duckworth's service to his family and the Army and this country will always be remembered. Of course he is one of those few proud American heroes.

   Madam Speaker, this is a photograph of Staff Sergeant Eric Duckworth. He was a real person that lived and died for the rest of us. His service reminds me of the lyrics to a song written by Toby Keith that is titled, "The American Soldier." Part of those lyrics say, "I will always do my duty, no matter what the price. I have counted up the cost, but I know the sacrifice. I don't want to die, but if dying is asked of me, I will bare that cross with honor, because freedom doesn't come free. I'm an American soldier, an American soldier."