Letter to the Editor

Remembering Murtha

I was deeply moved [Monday] to learn of the passing of Chairman Jack
Murtha– a great American and my friend. Two and a half years
ago, when I first came to Congress, I learned what a special man
Chairman Murtha was through the efforts he made to spend time with
this junior member, with or without an appointment.
The chairman met with me many times over the course of the last
couple years and was a true champion for preserving the C-17, for
which he used his foresight and leadership to help secure $4.75
billion in the last two years, so an additional 18 of these vital
cargo planes will be ready to serve our troops and our nation. It was
through his guidance and support that we were also able to secure $1.6
million for the Women In Military Service for America Memorial, which
to me is a perfect example of the deep respect and love he felt for
those who devote themselves to protecting our nation. More recently,
he helped me get a first-ever funding allocation for California State
University Long Beach, and later for all eight of California State’s
campuses, in the form of allocations of $1.6 million in 2009 and $2.9
million in 2010 for the Strategic Learning Center, which uses the
Strategic Language Initiative’s Language Model to prepare graduates,
especially those in the science, engineering and business fields, to
work in important international areas using critical world languages.
Recently, as I was preparing for my first visit to Afghanistan, I
asked the Chairman what he recommended that I see or what questions I
should ask. His response was so Murtha. He said, “Just talk to
the troops as much as you can. They will tell you the truth.” My
fondest memories though are the meetings we had in his office, where
I would bring him a latté, we would have a putting contest on his
carpet and, of course, we would spend a lot of time discussing
business that one so powerful rarely would extend to such a new
member, especially one not even on his Appropriations subcommittee.
I call Chairman Murtha a great American because he had a great love
for America, a great love for those who protected America and a great
love for the institution of the House and those who serve there. But,
most of all, despite the power he earned during his long tenure, he
always led as a gentleman and was willing to take the time to build
the next generation of public servants. For that, I am eternally
grateful to Chairman Murtha and his family, and I will apply the
lessons he taught for all the days I am blessed to serve.

Congresswoman Laura Richardson
37th Congressional District

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