[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) applauded Senate approval today of legislation to expand the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project to allow for the sharing of information on the lives of servicemembers who are missing in action or who have died as a result of their service. The bipartisan Gold Star Families Voices Act was introduced in the Senate by Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (D-KS) and led in the House by Esty, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), and others. The bill, which was voted out of the House of Representatives earlier this year, was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 97-0 and now heads to President Obama’s desk for signature.
“The Veterans History Project is an incredible national resource that allows our men and women in uniform to share their stories with generations of future Americans. But that narrative – which is so critical to understanding and preserving our history – is incomplete without the voices of servicemembers missing or killed in action,” Blumenthal said. “I am proud to join a bipartisan group in Congress – including Senator Moran and my Connecticut colleague, Representative Esty – in leading this effort to help ensure that those who made the ultimate sacrifice are never forgotten.”
“We can only have a full understanding of the reality of war if we hear from those who have felt that reality most deeply – the loved ones of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” Esty said. “I’m thrilled to see this legislation on the verge of becoming law. Once it does, I’m excited to interview Gold Star Families from our community like the Nolans, Kights, and Reichs to ensure their enormous contributions to our nation’s freedom and security are preserved for generations to come. Their stories will help ensure that future Americans honor and understand the sacrifices that our fallen heroes and their families have made.”
Congress created the VHP in 2000 to collect and catalog the stories of American war veterans. The purpose of the VHP is “to preserve the memories of this Nation’s war veterans so that Americans of all current and future generations may hear directly from veterans and better appreciate the realities of war and the sacrifices made by those who served in uniform during wartime.” To date, the VHP has collected the oral history records of more than 100,000 veterans who have served in military engagements since World War I.
The Gold Star Families Voices Act would allow the parents, spouses, siblings and children of servicemembers who are missing or killed in action to participate in the VHP by telling the stories of their loved ones.
Blumenthal and Esty have also both introduced legislation to establish stamps that honor those who have died in service to their country. Blumenthal recently sponsored the Gold Star Families Voices Act, which would honor the sacrifice of Gold Star Families by re-issuing the “Gold Star” stamp that the U.S. Post Office Department first issued in 1948.
The Gold Star Families Voices Act – which was introduced in the Senate by Blumenthal and cosponsored in the House by Esty – now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law