WILKES-BARRE — As he prepared to travel to Normandy, France, for a ceremony commemorating the brave service of U.S. troops in World War II, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey urged colleagues in Congress to pass legislation to honor the bravery and sacrifice of veterans.
Casey, D-Scranton, discussed his trip to participate today in the 70th anniversary of D-Day with President Obama and a delegation of senators during a teleconference Thursday.
According to the website americandday.org, there were 102 D-Day veterans from Luzerne County.
Casey said that according to the National Archives, more than 1,170,000 Pennsylvanians were serving or had served in the wartime armed forces, and over 15,000 of them were killed during World War II.
“Members of Congress have to do more than finger point and curse the darkness,” Casey said. “We have to act to provide services worthy of our veterans’ valor. We must vote the right way — vote for strategies to help veterans, not only on D-Day, but on a lot of other days.”
Casey said he was grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the ceremonies in France and to honor “the remarkable contributions our fighting men and women made during World War II.” He said that of the 16 million who served in the war, 1 million are still living.
“Great sacrifices were made for us,” Casey said. “We must pay tribute to them and honor their service. We must do what we can to be worthy of their valor.”
Casey said all veterans of all wars must be honored because Americans have a special obligation to those who served in the military.
“Their contributions can never be forgotten,” he said.
Casey said he has co-sponsored proposed legislation that addresses major issues veterans are dealing with on a daily basis and that would improve the lives of service members and their families.
“Congress has to provide the funding to do what is necessary,” Casey said. “And that includes hiring more doctors and nurses and whatever else is needed to provide the care and eliminate the backlogs. It is unacceptable that veterans have to wait a year or longer to be seen by the VA.
He said he will support increasing funding for veterans’ services.
The VA has to make “a persuasive case” to justify any increase in funding allocations, but he will support increasing the money to the VA if shown the need, Casey said.
“As much as Washington has been dysfunctional and weighted down by partisanship, Congress is just not achieving enough results,” Casey said.
Casey said the so-called “Arsenal of America,” Pennsylvania’s steel mills, supported the massive defense industry required to support Allied troops overseas.
Notably, Gen. George C. Marshall – the chief of staff of the Army during D-Day and one of the architects of the Allied invasion of Europe – was a native of Uniontown. Vice Admiral Alan G. Kirk of Philadelphia led the amphibious forces in the D-Day landings in Sicily, Italy, and Normandy.
Casey said at least one Pennsylvania veteran, Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr., of Horsham, will also be in Normandy to honor his fallen comrades. Cruise, formerly of the 82nd Airborne, parachuted into France as part of the assault.