Rep. Harshbarger Visits Local Veterans At Morning Pointe

Tennessee’s 1st District U.S. House Rep. Diana Harshbarger paid a visit to some local veterans Friday morning during a stop at Morning Point Senior Living in Greeneville.

Those recognized at Morning Pointe on Friday included World War II, Cold War and Vietnam veterans who served in the Army, Army Air Corps and Navy.

Each veteran was given a special certificate and commemorative coin as they were thanked for their service by the congresswoman.

Those recognized Friday were Frank Parker, James “Mack” Hughes, Russ Poehlman, Michael Frieary and Al Smith.

“Is somebody pulling my chain?” Poehlman joked when he received his certificate. He said he served in the Army on the island of Okinawa during World War II.

Parker said he served in the Navy and then worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Smith told Harshbarger that he was a submariner during the Cold War and at one time spent over 60 days in a row submerged under the sea.

Harshbarger, who said that she had recognized many Vietnam veterans during her time in office through pinning ceremonies, said that she felt it was important to give the country’s remaining World War II veterans recognition as well. She said her staff is searching for as many remaining World War II veterans as they can find in the 1st District.

“We don’t have that many left,” Harshbarger said. “These men are 97, 98, 100, 102, 104. They’re just not going to live much longer and they’ve been honored in the past, but I personally want to honor them and listen to their stories.”

Harshbarger called World War II veterans members of “the Greatest Generation.”

“These guys were the Greatest Generation. If you don’t understand where we came from and what we had to go through as a country, you’ll never understand where we’re going. These guys don’t talk about it but they are loyal patriots, loyal to their family, and loyal to where they worked and never do really open up about the atrocities that they saw like on D-Day or other things that I’ve heard,” Harshbarger said. “But golly we got to do it now, because they might not be here tomorrow.”

Harshbarger said those who know or care for a World War II veteran should contact her office. Harshbarger’s Morristown office can be contacted at 423-254-1400.

Harshbarger said she gave “kudos” to caregivers who are taking care of World War II veterans in their advanced years and said she hopes people who know a World War II veteran would take the time to speak to them and hear about their experiences.

“When they pass away, it’s like a library closes. You’ll never hear those stories, and that’s sad,” Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger gave a brief interview after the event about current events on Capitol Hill.

When it comes to recent happenings in Washington, D.C., Harshbarger explained her reasoning for voting against a continuing funding resolution that passed that funds the federal government until March, averting a government shutdown. The resolution was supported by 207 Democrats and 107 Republicans in the House of Representatives. A total of 106 House Republicans and two Democrats voted against the measure that was also approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Joe Biden.

House Speaker Mike Johnson brought the bill to the floor under a suspension of the rules which meant it required a two-thirds majority to pass, but it also meant that it could be voted on without requiring a vote on bill debate rules. The move avoided the legislation potentially being blocked at a rules vote.

Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the House speakership after taking a similar path to keeping the government open in 2023. However, Harshbarger said she was going to give Johnson “grace.”

“I’m going to give Speaker Johnson grace. He is a good man and he wasn’t prepared for this role, and he’s trying to navigate what was set before him. So I’m not going to bash anything he does. Just because I voted no doesn’t mean I’m voting no against him,” Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger said she wanted legislation dealing with the southern border tied to the funding resolution or lower funding thresholds. Harshbarger said she believed the government had been “weaponized” and did not want to fund it.

“I just didn’t want to vote and say yes to continue the same policies or to give money to a government that is weaponized against the people that I serve, because that’s where we’re at. We are fighting a weaponized government,” Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger said the situation at the southern border with concern to illegal immigration was “an invasion” but that she believed that the possible bipartisan legislation being negotiated in the Senate to address the border would “not be good” in her opinion and that the Senate should pass the bill that the House approved in 2023. The Senate has taken no action on the bill.

Harshbarger also said she would continue to oppose sending funding to Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

“Why would I vote to give money to another country when we have insecure borders?” Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger said that allowing a government shutdown is something she would consider in order to control spending.

“If you close the government, you won’t spend any money. That’s the only positive. Nobody wants to close the government, but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and say no more,” Harshbarger said.

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