Sometimes it’s important to look critically at newly elected media-darling members of Congress, and sometimes it’s important to compile an adoring list of some of the best things freshman Illinois Congresswoman and former military helicopther pilot Tammy Duckworth has said. Call it the Jennifer Lawrence treatment if you must, but just about everything this woman says in public merits a gold engraved plaque.
On gender and the military:
“You want to be infantry? Here, carry this 80-pound rucksack and march 20 miles. Can you drag a 200-pound dead weight 200 yards like you may have to? If you can do it, and if you’re willing to lay your life down for this nation, then I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, black, white, yellow, male or female, good for you, thank you for serving. Go do the job…The act of killing is an unnatural act for everyone.”
On Paul Wolfowitz:
“As a Democrat, I get a lot of heat for this, but Paul Wolfowitz was there for us. He would come there [to Walter Reed hospital] on nights and weekends…[He]was the reason I got sent to Iraq and got blown up. But he cared.”
On being shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade:
“They recovered a body. I never got a tourniquet. I never got first aid. They carried me out because they didn’t want to leave my body to be mutilated and have my parents see me dragged through the streets on Al Jazeera or something…I shouldn’t even be here, so if I’m here I better do something good.”
On the loss of her legs:
“Of course. But I have a different perspective for what my legs are now. Now they’re just tools, you know? If I still had my legs, I would be in line for a battalion command, and instead I’m flying a desk.”
On her family:
“My father served in the Army and the Marine Corps. A Vietnam vet, his family has worn our nation’s uniform since the American Revolution. My husband is an Army officer. My brother saved lives in the Coast Guard. My mom is Thai and Chinese. She proudly became a citizen in her fifties.
Dad’s work took us all over the world until he lost his job. It was a tough time. We used up our savings, moved into a studio apartment. But our family did the responsible thing and rolled up our sleeves. Mom took in sewing.
My 55-year-old dad tried to find work. But at 15, I was the only one with a job—after school, for minimum wage. Thank God for the food stamps, public education and Pell grants that helped me finish high school and college.”
“One of the good things about losing your feet is I can wear all the pointy shoes I want and it doesn’t hurt any more. I can wear shoes just for fashion now.”
On her former nickname, “Mommy Platoon Leader”:
“They were just giving me a hard time, because I served hot cocoa. Do you know what? That hot cocoa got my pilots and crew chiefs warm faster, my crews took off faster and they were more deadly. If marshmallows and blowing kisses on the hot cocoa made my men more deadly, I would have done that too.”
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]