Amid a tense week when end-of-session deadlines leave the fates of hundreds of bills hanging in the balance, the Texas House and Senate took time Wednesday to honor the state’s dwindling group of living World War II veterans.
More than 20 veterans came for the event, including 88-year-old Ray Perry of Haskell County, better known as Gov. Rick Perry’s father. Ray Perry, a tail gunner, enlisted in 1942. Later he returned to Haskell, where he worked as a rancher and started his family.
The veterans began their morning on the House floor, where the partisan rancor witnessed late Tuesday during the debate on a tax bill remained at bay as representatives unanimously supported a bipartisan resolution celebrating the survivors of the conflict, which the United States entered after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.
An estimated 22,000 Texans died in the war, said state Rep. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, the chairman of the House Committee on Defense and Veterans Affairs.
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“Let there be no doubt, in my opinion, that they are the greatest generation,” Menéndez said.
In the Senate, Perry stopped by to greet the veterans and the organizers of their visit to the Capitol.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, whose own father was a World War II pilot, told the veterans he was awestruck at their humility and courage.
“You all are the reason we have the freedom we have today,” Dewhurst said. “I sometimes wonder if those freedoms have been squandered.”
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, spoke about enlisting as a Marine at the age of 18, and he recalled how he felt that “those that served before me made it such an honor to wear that uniform.”
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