A U.S. Congresswoman was connected to a part of history this week through a ceremony honoring a Navy hero who saved lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The two were both from Waco and Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson says he is a hero from her childhood.
She was invited to speak at the ceremony Monday that honored U.S. Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris “Dorie” Miller. That ceremony marked the first time a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier would be named after an African American -- an honor Rep. Johnson had a lot to do with.
“He was a childhood hero, because I walked with my dad all over the neighborhood to collect money to get him a gift when he came home after the Pearl Harbor incident,” Johnson said.
The democrat, originally from Waco, has seen history made in her years in politics. Even before she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, she was a state representative. She has been serving the 30th district of Texas for 28 years.
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“I sometimes say if I have made it look easy, then I apologize to you, because it’s not easy,” Johnson said. “It takes a degree of dedication. My mother and father used to say ‘you don’t give up if you believe in something.’”
She met Miller when she was in the first grade where they both lived in Waco.
“Of course, the news in Waco was that he shot down the Japanese planes that were attempting to invade the united states and saved this nation from war," Johnson said.
Miller has been honored around the country for his heroic efforts during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Even though he wasn’t trained, Miller leapt into action, manning a gun he had never been trained on. Miller lost his life as a hero and eventually became the first African American to receive the Navy Cross for valor.
While Johnson said she is thankful she was able to see history once again, she said much of her life’s work has been dedicated to getting Miller awarded with the Medal of Honor. Something she said she have happened a long time ago.
“We’ve been told it has had nothing to do with race and we have been told it had a lot to do with race," Johnson said. "I don’t know, but I do know this. It was not the race that caused him to have the courage to save our nation. I will never give up. I’m very grateful for them naming this ship that they are getting ready to build. He’s had all kinds of recognition, but the top medal is the one that I think he deserves and I will go to my grave, probably, working for it.”
Johnson also talked to us about her thoughts on the current impeachment trial of President Trump. Only three times in American history has a president been impeached. Johnson has been a politician for all of them. She said this time though, it is very different.
“When I look at what brought us, as a nation, to these impeachments, I don’t see any comparison," Johnson said. "We looked at impeachment for President Nixon because he didn’t tell the truth about having knowledge and breaking into the Democratic headquarters. When it came to President Clinton, he didn’t tell the truth about an affair he had with a young woman, consenting adults. It brought him to impeachment.
"This is about our Constitution. It is about taking away the privilege of people voting and having their votes counted correctly without interference. This to me, goes to the heart of my freedoms and my ability to express myself. It has nothing to do with a consenting affair. Nothing to do with breaking into a Democratic Party headquarters. It has everything to do with violating our Constitution that was written in 1776 and is just as active today as it was then,” Johnson said.
She also talked in detail about the Census and the importance of every American being counted.
“We have had a million people move [to North Texas] in the last four to five years. We need to know that officially," Johnson said. "For every person not counted, we can lose as much as $2,000 a year for 10 years in provided services. We need to know their ages and their income levels. Where they work and where they live so we can make sure that there is transportation available to get to jobs. We also will know if they are on Medicare or getting ready for Medicare. Do those people have children who are school age or getting ready for school? We need to know how many teachers to hire.”
She also encouraged everyone to check on older adults and others who may need help with the census. Often times, those are the communities with inaccurate counts.
“An under count usually comes with those populations that are most in need of being counted," Johnson said. "We have to find out how many people we have to look forward to facilitating treatment. At the county hospitals for example. We need to know how many people might need treatment. How many immunizations we have. And so on."