This speech was read on the Senate floor
and will be therefore put into the Congressional Record. The first part
was read by the Senator from South Dakota, Mr. Daschle. He then yielded
his speaking time to the Senate Presiding Officer, who is the Senator from
Utah, Mr. Hatch, who read the latter portion.
Congressional Record: April 7, 2003
Senate Page S4892
TRIBUTE TO PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LORI PIESTEWA
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I want to take just a couple of minutes of
my leader time to make a statement with regard to a very special young
woman. Throughout America--especially in Native American communities--
Americans are grieving the loss in combat of Army PFC Lori Piestewa. But
we are also feeling pride for Lori Piestewa's remarkable life.
PFC Piestewa was a member of the Army mechanics unit that was ambushed
by Iraqi soldiers on March 23. Her body, and the remains of eight other
soldiers, were recovered last week from a hospital in southern Iraq when
Special Forces stormed the hospital to rescue another member of the
507th Maintenance Company, PFC Jessica Lynch.
Private Piestewa is the first Native American woman in the U.S. Armed
Forces ever to die as a result of combat. She was 23 years old. She
leaves behind two small children--a 4-year- old son and a 3-year-old
daughter. . . . She also leaves behind a broken-hearted but proud
family--and countless friends.
There are more than 12,000 Native Americans serving in our military
today--including many from my State of South Dakota. They and Private
Piestewa are part of a noble tradition that too few Americans know much
about. It is a tradition that includes heroes like the "Code Talkers''
of World War II--the service members from the Lakota, Navajo and other
Indian nations who developed the only military code that was never
broken by the Japanese. The Code Talkers were key to U.S. victories
throughout the Pacific theater. Their service helped turn the tide of
the war--and saved untold numbers of American lives.
Today, Private Piestewa takes her place alongside them as an American
who risked everything to protect her land and her people. Over the
weekend, memorials began to appear all over the reservation near Tuba
City, AZ, where Private Piestewa grew up and where her family still
lives. At one of the memorials, someone left a group of red, white, and
blue balloons. Included in the bunch was one green balloon, the team
color for Tuba City High School, where Lori Piestewa had been a softball
star and a junior ROTC commander.
On May 24, Private Piestewa will be honored at another memorial. Red
rose petals will be place in her honor in the reflecting pool of the
Women in Military Service for American Memorial at Arlington National
When I heard about the memorials to Private Piestewa, I thought of
another cemetery--at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge reservation in
South Dakota. I remember the first time I visited it. As I walked toward
the cemetery, I was surprised to see little American flags dotting many
of the graves. When I got close enough to read the headstones, I could
see that many of the people there were veterans. Some--like Private
Piestewa--had died in the service. Others had died years after they took
off the uniform. But they wanted it recorded on their graves: This
person loved this Nation. I have never seen a more profound expression
of American patriotism.
The thoughts and prayers of our Nation are with the family and friends
of PFC Lori Piestewa. She was an American hero. We are deeply grateful
to her for her service and sacrifice--and to all Native Americans who
are serving, and have served, our Nation in uniform.
I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah. Mr.
HATCH. Mr. President, I compliment the distinguished minority leader for
this very sensitive and very important statement about this wonderful
person. As someone who belongs to a family which has lost my older
brother, and lost a brother-in-law--an older brother in the Second World
War, and brother-in-law in Vietnam--and then have another brother-in-law
who is suffering tremendously from his war wounds, who fought both in
the Inchon Reservoir in Korea and also in Vietnam, I have to say these
are the greatest of all Americans. I really appreciate his sensitivity
in delivering this message for the Senate here today.