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Congress Salutes US, Coalition Troops in Iraq - 2003-04-11

Members of Congress have paid tribute to U.S. and coalition military forces in Iraq. Lawmakers set aside political affiliations in a Capitol Hill ceremony honoring those who have fought and died in the Iraq campaign.

With members of all military services, and families of U.S. servicemen and women, in attendance, Republican and Democratic leaders in the House spoke about the sacrifices of U.S. troops, and what they have so far achieved.

"Today in Iraq, tens of millions are free who were, only a few days ago, hostages to a barbarous and criminal regime," said Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas. "We are gathered in this [stately] hall to pay tribute to our service men and women, and their families. Americans from all walks of life, serving their country with extraordinary bravery and valor," added Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

Although focused on U.S. troops, the ceremony also honored those from other nations assisting coalition forces in Iraq. Australia's ambassador to the United States, Michael Thawley, said "speaking on my own behalf, and on behalf of my British and Polish colleagues, and representing the countries that have joined the United States in the campaign in Iraq, our serving men and women have done what is right, and what is just."

Holding American flags, and wearing yellow ribbons, lawmakers also paid tribute to U.S. and British troops who lost their lives during the Iraq conflict.

But it was left to Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland to give this pledge concerning U.S. troops still listed as missing or held prisoner in Iraq. "Further to the Americans who, like [Private First Class] Jessica Lynch, fell into enemy hands during this conflict, and to those who are listed as missing, we offer this determined pledge: we will not relent, we will not rest, until you are safely returned to the country that you call home, the home of the brave, the brave like you," he said.

A moment of silence was observed during the ceremony in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building, for those killed in action in Iraq.