I would like to thank both you and Ranking Member Sarbanes for agreeing to quickly consider my legislation to award Prime Minister Tony Blair the Congressional Gold Medal. In a signal of broad bipartisan agreement, 78 Senators have cosponsored this bill, including many of the members of this committee. In the year and a half since September 11, 2001, and particularly over the course of recent weeks, Prime Minister Blair and the people of Great Britain have exhibited extraordinary courage in the war against terror.
Prime Minister Blair has rightly recognized security interests as paramount in the world arena and in his country's relations with the United States. In doing so he has transcended politics.
Prime Minister Blair and the British people have provided vital military assistance to the United States. As our troops are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and elsewhere, Britain has shouldered more than its share of responsibility and eased our country's burden.
In the process, Prime Minister Blair and Great Britain have proven to be one of the strongest and most distinguished allies of the United States in our efforts to rid the world of terrorists, and to bring to justice the corrupt regimes that support them. One of the most moving and memorable moments in our shared history was when America's national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was played during the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace shortly after the attacks of September 11th.
Throughout these defining times, Prime Minister Blair's character has proven strong and the will of Great Britain has been steadfast. It goes without saying that Prime Minister Blair has upheld his duties to his country and its people. We honor him, however, because his leadership has contributed tangibly to the security of the United States and to our bilateral relations, which in turn advances our collective national interests.
Great Britain's magnificent, and benevolent, spirit is captured in the words of Lt. Col. Tim Collins, as he addressed his men at Fort Blair Mayne, a Kuwaiti desert camp 20 miles south of the Iraqi border, as they prepared to enter Iraq.
The British commander eloquently summed up the task at hand for his forces, saying: "we go to liberate not conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own." He continued "As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there."
When we pray for the families of our fallen American servicemen and women, let us also remember in our prayers those British families who have lost loved ones.
I am proud and honored today to support this legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Prime Minister Blair, and to thank him, the citizens of Great Britain, and members of their armed forces for standing firm against evil.
I thank all of the members of this committee for their support.