“The release of American prisoner-of-war, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was the culmination of heroic efforts by our military, our government, and our President. President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, acted honorably in helping an American soldier return home to his family.”
“Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is an answer to many Americans’ prayers.”
“I’m grateful for the many people who refused to forget about Sergeant Bergdahl, and worked tirelessly to secure his release. America is glad he’s home.”
Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor on the safe return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
The late military historian John Keegan once said: “Soldiers, when committed to a task, can’t compromise. It’s unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it’s been done.”
The integrity of American soldiers safeguards our democracy. Their devotion to duty, even in the face of difficult, trying circumstances, is what protects this nation. I’m thankful that the members of the U.S. Armed Forces do not compromise their honor. This past weekend, our military refused to abandon its duty, instead fulfilling its obligation to never leave a soldier behind. The release of American prisoner-of-war, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was the culmination of heroic efforts by our military, our government, and our President. President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, acted honorably in helping an American soldier return home to his family. Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is an answer to many Americans’ prayers. I can’t imagine how relieved his parents and family must feel.
Unfortunately, opponents of President Obama have seized upon the release of an American prisoner of war, using what should be a moment of unity and celebration for our nation, as a chance to play political games. The safe return of an American soldier should not be used to score political points. When a man or woman puts on the uniform of a U.S. service member, they have America’s uncompromising support. Just a couple of weeks ago, the junior Senator from New Hampshire released a statement touting her diligence in calling upon the Department of Defense to, “do all it can to find Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home.” In April, Republican Senators McConnell and Toomey sponsored a resolution “to express the sense of the Senate that no member of the armed forces who is missing in action should be left behind.” Senator Inhofe even said that the U.S. “must make every effort to bring this captured soldier home to his family.”
President Obama and his team did just that – they made every effort and brought this young man home. Yet, these Senators are now denouncing those very same efforts that secured Sergeant Bergdahl’s release. It’s clear they’re worried his release could be seen as a victory for President Obama. Let me put that notion to rest – it’s not a victory for President Obama. It’s a victory for our soldiers, their families, and the United States of America. No member of the armed forces should be left behind, and President Obama saw to that.
I understand that there are questions regarding Sergeant Bergdahl’s disappearance, and whether or not military code was violated. Those are issues that will be resolved by the United States Army, not Monday morning quarterbacks on Capitol Hill. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Sergeant Bergdahl did violate his sworn oath. Who do we want to mete out justice to an American soldier? The Taliban? I will choose the justice system of the United States Army – American justice – every time. And whatever the results of the military’s inquiries are, it doesn’t change the fact that one more American soldier is home safe. What was the alternative? Would any American honestly prefer that a U.S. soldier remain in captivity until all of the questions have been answered? Of course not. In the United States of America, we rescue our soldiers first and ask questions later.
As Rear Admiral John F. Kirby said, “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped. We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.” I’m grateful for the many people who refused to forget about Sergeant Bergdahl, and worked tirelessly to secure his release. America is glad he’s home.