Duckworth Honors Peoria Veterans at War Memorial Dedication Ceremony
[PEORIA, IL] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today helped honor Peoria County Veterans at the A Final Salute War Memorial Dedication Ceremony. Today, the third and final addition to the memorial was dedicated, entitled “Lady Liberty: Monument to the First Female Fighter Pilots.” In her keynote, Duckworth highlighted the importance of diversity to the strength of our military. Photos from today’s event are available here.
- “I’m here today because of them. Do you know why I’m also here? I’m here because they didn’t care that I was a woman... they didn’t care if my name was Tammy or Tommy. They didn’t care that I grew up on food stamps. They didn’t care that I was Asian-American… or that my mom was an immigrant … these troops respected me because I could do the job that was asked of me, just as I asked of them. And because I was willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary for my country, no matter my gender, race, background or any other attribute, just like they were.”
- “Our differences have always made us a more effective fighting force. Scientific research and four-star generals will tell you the same thing: when everyone looks and acts and thinks the same, you become stuck... flat-footed… insular. Diversity leads to more creative problem-solving and more success. Yes, it does better reflect who we are as a country, of course, but more importantly, it makes us more able to execute our missions downrange in the face of the enemy. And the reality is, we will never be the more perfect union our founders dreamed of until we learn to actually, truly, embrace the power of our diversity.”
- “So even while we may live in the greatest country in the world, even while we may have the most powerful military on the face of the Earth, the truth is, the strength of our Armed Forces and our nation at large isn’t just about our defense budget … or the speed of our tanks. No. Our strength, our true strength, is what Abraham Lincoln fought for. It’s our values and what we represent to the rest of the world.”
Duckworth was joined today by Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) Mayor of Peoria Rita Ali, Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand, Peoria County Board Member Phil Salzer, 182nd Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Daniel McDonugh, Grace Baptist Church Pastor Claude L. White, Jr. and Peoria County Assistant States Attorney Larry Evans, who was a member of Duckworth’s unit in Iraq.
A Final Salute commemorates all Peoria County Veterans who have served our country since World War II. The sculpture dedicated today resembles a female helicopter pilot from the Gulf War Era, commemorating the first women in combat roles in the military.
Duckworth was one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A Purple Heart recipient, she served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She is currently a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Chair of the SASC Airland Subcommittee.
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