A Villager who fought in World War II was among those honored Tuesday night during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Irving Locker was only 19 when he was among Allied troops who fought the Nazis at Normandy. Now in his 90s, Locker had the honor of being a guest of President Trump during the State of the Union.
“This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s mission and the power of American pride. In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the great crusades, the allied liberation in Europe. On D-day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those incredible heroes, Private First Class Joseph Riley, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker and Sergeant Herman Zeitchiek,” Trump said.
Locker is well known in The Villages and frequently speaks to groups about his wartime experiences. He describes himself as “a young Jewish kid from New Jersey” serving in an artillery unit.
Meanwhile, the founder of Villagers For Trump called President Trump’s State of the Union address the best he’s ever heard.
The speech, which lasted an hour and 22 minutes, was highlighted by repeated calls for Republicans and Democrats to work together to move the nation forward. The president also took a stand against “ridiculous partisan” investigations into his administration and renewed his call for border wall funding.
And he called for a bipartisan effort to move ahead with things like making infrastructure projects a top priority, passing legislation to prohibit late-term abortions, spending on research to defeat AIDS and childhood cancer and cutting health care and prescription drug costs.
“He held court and knocked it out of the box,” said David Gee. “I counted over 100 standing ovations.”
Gee said he also appreciated the way Trump made sure his agenda was “crystal clear, unambiguous and on point.” And he called the address a “powerful” affirmation speech.
“There clearly was a conciliatory tone and an invitation to work together for the good of America,” said Gee, whose grassroots group boasts more than 1,000 members in a little more than a year of existence.
Trump wasted little time during Tuesday night’s speech in addressing the numerous investigations that have been launched against him, most notably but not mentioned being the probe directed by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Russians and the president’s 2016 campaign.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only things that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said. “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”
The president also took the opportunity to renew his steadfast resolve to have a wall along the southern border of the United States.
“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built,” he said. “I’ll get it built.
Trump also claimed it’s “cruel” to show tolerance for illegal immigration and reminded everyone of those who have come from across the globe and gone through the process of becoming legal citizens of the United States. And he defended the need for a steel, see-through barrier wall placed in areas identified by Border Patrol agents as having the greatest needs.
“As these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down,” he said, citing San Diego and El Paso, Texas, where walls have cut back on illegal border crossings and improved safety to citizens in both cities.
Trump also outlined his plan to end the “crisis” on the southern border, which has been sent to Congress. He said it includes everything from increased law enforcement and drug detection to closing loopholes that favor child smugglers to plans for the barrier along the border. And he reminded Congress that a compromise needs to be worked out in the next 10 days to avoid the possibility of another government shutdown like the most recent one that lasted 35 days.
“He spent the most time on border security, making a great argument in favor,” said Gee, whose group is holding a rally centered on immigration and election reform Thursday at 7 p.m. at Rohan Recreation Center.
“But I do not think the Democrats will bend because of their drawing a hard line. I hope I am wrong,” Gee said, adding that he believes Trump eventually will have to use his presidential powers to pay for the wall.
Like Gee, Congressman Dan Webster offered praise for the president’s speech.
“As promised, this administration has made it clear America is open for business – and the results are clear,” he said. “Jobs are coming back to America and wages are on the rise!”
Webster said he also appreciates the fact that Trump has kept his campaign promise to invest in military readiness.
“From enacting the largest pay raise in 9 years and investing in the tools and equipment to be mission ready, we have taken a huge step forward in rebuilding our national defense,” he said. “In just one year, with a president focused on delivering what our military needs to achieve its mission, American forces have dealt ISIS a string of crippling defeats.”
Moving forward, Webster assured his constituents that Trump will have his support.
“There is more work to be done and President Trump and House Republicans remain focused on the issues that matter the most to the American people,” he said.
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