Fourth of July Brings Out Our Nation's Best

Southwest News-Herald
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.
The Stars and Stripes flap proudly in front of homes and businesses — at my house I fly a flag that was flown for me on a B-1B Bomber by the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. Neighborhoods and communities come alive with festivities and celebrations, from parades to fireworks displays to the family barbecues taking place in backyards on every block. 
This year and every year, I am committed to being involved with as many Independence Day events as possible, including the Patriot’s Day parade Tuesday in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge community. And I looked forward to once again being a part of the special Mass to honor our veterans at St. Cletus Parish in LaGrange, which was held the morning of July 4, a tradition that started more than 60 years ago.
Patriotism and duty to country are two principles I rely on to guide me as your elected representative in Washington D.C. Working on behalf of our men and women in the armed forces and looking out for the best interests of veterans are two of the most important responsibilities I have. I take them very seriously.
In the past 10 days, I have met three young men who plan to apply for admission to our Service Academies. The ability to nominate men and women for these academies is one of the special privileges that I have as a member of Congress. Every year my faith in young people is bolstered by those who seek to serve our nation through this pathway. I encourage anyone who is interested or knows someone who is interested to contact one of my offices.
Getting veterans the recognition they deserve is especially important to me. I feel privileged to serve communities that have a deep reverence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This spring, I participated in five Memorial Day ceremonies, each one a moving and unforgettable tribute to those who lost their lives preserving our freedoms.
My office has helped many veterans cut through the red tape to get them medals they earned but never received. At my recent town hall meetings, I presented Garfield Ridge’s Leo Dilger and Chicago Ridge’s Raymond Sims, both Army veterans, with medals they earned decades ago. I am glad I could participate in this special day for them and their families.
Recently, I introduced two bills in the House to protect and honor the American flag. Both pieces of legislation were introduced in conjunction with Flag Day on June 14.
I once again offered a resolution supporting the respectful disposal of worn American flags. I have introduced this resolution several years in a row and will continue to do so because I feel it is great opportunity to remind the public that my district offices accept old flags for proper retirement. For more information about office locations, you can visit my WWeb site at or call (312) 886-0481.
The other bill I introduced would establish a Constitutional amendment granting Congress the power to make laws prohibiting flag desecration. The bipartisan measure declares flag desecration an offensive act that should be within the power of the people’s elected representatives to prevent.
While I cherish the First Amendment’s fundamental right of freedom of speech, I firmly believe that purposeful flag desecration is an offensive act that cannot and should not be tolerated. As a congressman representing a district with more than 30,000 veterans, I have worked alongside too many veterans and attended far too many memorial ceremonies for soldiers killed in action to ever think otherwise.
Patriotism is something we should hold dear and live out every day, not just this week.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.