USMC Private First Class Victor Dew
House Chamber, Washington, D.C.
February 2, 2012
Today I have introduced a bill to name the United States Post Office in Granite Bay, California in honor of United States Marine Corps Private First Class Victor Dew. This young man was only 20 years old when he left his family and friends in late September of 2010 for Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, on October 13th, Private Dew was killed in action when his convoy was ambushed.
Victor grew up dreaming of becoming a Marine. He loved military history and was fully aware of the mortal dangers he would face. Yet, when he was offered a posting to a ceremonial position stateside, he turned it down. He believed his duty and destiny was to keep the fight away from our shores; away from his family and his country; and so he chose combat even when he had been offered safe and honorable service at home.
What did he sacrifice to give our country a little more security and to give another country a fleeting chance of redemption? He had everything in the world to live for. He was engaged to be married to a devoted young lady named Courtney Gold. Courtney said, “We had life in the grasp of our hands and we were ready to take on the world.” They would have.
She had already picked out her wedding dress. There’s a picture of her wearing that dress. It is in Victor’s casket.
Victor was one of those sunny personalities who lifted the spirits of everyone around him. That’s the recurring theme in the recollections of everyone who knew him – they’d be feeling down and Victor would lift them up. I didn’t know him, but I think I caught a glimpse of him in his little brother, Kyle. At the funeral reception last year, I found Kyle sitting at a table with his friends. When I offered him my condolences, one of his friends said, “We came to cheer him up and instead he’s been cheering us up.”
Victor lives on in the lives of those he touched – and he touched quite a few. He is remembered in his community as a faithful friend and an inspiring teacher – before he enlisted he had already become a popular martial arts instructor at a local dojo. Some of his students – some of them a lot older than he – came to his service.
It has now been over a year since he returned to Granite Bay. In that year, he would have celebrated his 21st birthday; he would have returned safely home with his unit; he would have been married. And as Courtney said, he would have taken on the world.
Instead he rests in an honored grave. His family does what every Gold Star family does – they cope with their grief through a mixture of fond memories, faith, and most of all, of pride for the life of their son.
There are many graves in that cemetery, etched with lifetimes much longer than the 20 years recorded on Victor’s. But none of them comes close to his in this most important respect: what they did with those years.
The most iconic work of art on the Titanic was a great carving that depicted “honor” and “glory” crowning time. Victor Dew’s time may have been short in this world but he crowned that time with honor and glory that the rest of us can only marvel at.
Every morning since he was 12 years old, Victor Dew awoke under a Marine Corps Banner over his bed emblazoned with the words, “Semper Fidelis.” In his life, we can see the full measure of those words.
Every day in this majestic Capitol, we walk in the footsteps of the giants of our nation’s history. The oratory of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster still echoes through these halls. At arm’s reach of where I stand at this moment once spoke Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill. And yet in their long and illustrious lives, not one could claim to have sacrificed more for his country than these young men like Victor Dew.
Lincoln was right, that no meager words of ours can add or detract from their deeds. But Shakespeare was also right, that their story should the good man teach his son.
For that reason, I am proud to join a unanimous delegation from California in proposing that the Post Office in the town where Victor Dew lived, and loved and returned as a fallen hero, be named in his honor.