Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors Rep. Walter Jones Jr. and His Life of Service

March 5, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today honored the life and legacy of Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03), who served 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Speech is Available Here

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“I rise today to honor the life of my friend, Congressman Walter Jones, Jr., a man who was known by all of us throughout his many years of serving through this chamber for his kindness, his southern charm and his big heart, his fierce independence, and his pursuit of peace.

“Walter left us on February 10th, his 76th birthday. He lived a long life of service: four years in the North Carolina National Guard, ten years in the North Carolina General Assembly, and nearly twenty five years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Walter stayed true to himself throughout this time, following his heart. He was never afraid to challenge the status quo – often to the chagrin of party leaders. We found a common bond and friendship around shared ideals of putting people before politics, of putting service above self. He knew that when we see each other as people, as public servants – not just as Republicans or Democrats – that this is when we have the opportunity to find common ground and work toward our common goal of serving the people of this country.

“Now, in 2002, Walter voted for the Iraq War -- the war that I served in, the war that took the lives of my brothers and sisters in uniform, the war that took the lives of over 4,000 U.S. service members and over 100,000 Iraqis. Walter shared with me as he shared with many others that this vote that he took was the biggest regret of his time in public service. He shared how when he attended a funeral at Camp Lejeune for a 31-year-old marine who was killed in Iraq in March, 2003, while evacuating wounded troops. Everything changed for Walter, because he sat there and he heard this Marine’s widow in front of their three children read the final letter that this Marine Sergeant sent home. And he saw those three kids, knowing that they would never see his father again. This impacted him so deeply -- and maybe for the first time, caused him to realize the cost of war and who pays the price.

“So, Walter started writing. He wrote over 12,000 letters to families who lost their loved ones in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and shared how he begged God to forgive him for his mistake. He memorialized those who died from North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune as you see here with photos for all to see before they could come inside his office here in Washington. He became a leading voice, not just in his party, but in Congress, pushing for additional oversight over matters of war and peace. He called for ending illegal regime-change wars that put our troops on the line and leaving their families behind. He pointed out that our taxpayer dollars should not be used to be the policeman of the world.

“Walter and I didn’t agree on many things, but we also found many opportunities to work together on things that we strongly believed in. We co-led the No More Presidential Wars Act, which rightly put the responsibility back in Congress’s hands to declare war as the Constitution provides. He cosponsored my bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being used to directly and indirectly fund terrorists groups as we have seen being done in Syria and Yemen. We cosponsored the Weekend Voting Act to strengthen voting rights. We worked together to strengthen civil liberties and privacy, upholding our 4th Amendment rights.

“Walter was courageous. He didn’t care about party politics, and as a result, he suffered the consequences in tough primary elections. But he didn’t care. He didn’t care. He never hesitated to stand up for what he believed in. So while Walter and I were two very different people, coming from two very different places, Walter was my dear friend, fellow service member, and brother.

“He will be deeply missed. My heart and prayers go out to his family, his friends, and his loved ones. We all know that Walter’s legacy of service and his principles and values will continue to live on in Washington, in the halls of Congress, and in the lives of the many people who he touched.”

 

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