ODESSA — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, visited the Chris Kyle memorial in Odessa on Monday in honor of today’s National Day of Service & Remembrance. He spoke with Odessa Boy Scouts from Troop 91, including McCabe Pope.
Pope, 15, a sophomore at Permian High School, is working on his Eagle Scout project — updating the memorial’s landscape. His plans include covering bare patches with grass and planting wildflowers, said Libby Hambleton, Cornyn’s press secretary.
Cornyn brought a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol to replace the memorial’s worn flag. The Boy Scouts replaced the Texas flag and placed small flags around the perimeter. The Scouts also cleaned the memorial and removed litter.
Cornyn thanked the Boy Scouts for keeping the memorial maintained and acting as an example for serving their community and country.
“I told them that when you see things happen in the news where people have sort of lost their sense of respect for military service and for the flag, the national anthem, I found my own time in the Boy Scouts to be particularly helpful to train you in the Scouts’ law and to create an ethic of service to others and service to others above self,” Cornyn said.
After meeting with the Scouts, Cornyn spoke to the media at the nearby Veterans Affairs Permian Basin outpatient clinic.
“A VA clinic is the perfect venue to reflect on service. For more than 70 years, in communities across the country, thousands of volunteers have selflessly assisted our nation’s heroes with time and care at VA clinics and hospitals,” said Kalautie JangDhari, director of the West Texas VA.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 2.7 million people in the U.S. military have deployed, Cornyn said, “They serve us as volunteers, but once they take off that uniform, we have, I believe, a solemn covenant with them to provide them the health care they have earned by their service.”
He also reflected on Chris Kyle’s life and his death helping a veteran with mental health issues.
Kyle is “a great American hero in his own right,” Cornyn said. “That was a tragic (story), but also a story of great sacrifice and nobility on his part.”
Born in Odessa, Kyle was a Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq and was depicted in the film “American Sniper.” He is known as the most successful sniper in American military history and was awarded some of the highest medals in the U.S. military — including the Bronze and Silver stars. Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range by a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, according to the website chriskyleamericansniper.info.
Also at the media conference:
–Cornyn discussed Brett Kavanaugh – President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Cornyn is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to vote on Kavanaugh as early as next week.
“One of the most important jobs I have as a member of the United States Senate is making sure that we provide what is called advise and consent, under the Constitution, to the president’s nominees for the federal bench,” Cornyn said.
He met Kavanaugh in 2000 when Cornyn was attorney general of Texas and has followed his career since then. Kavanaugh worked for 12 years on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals – the second highest court in the nation. “I think the President has chosen a magnificent man, great choice for this important job” Cornyn said.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who also was appointed by Trump, was confirmed with 54 votes and Cornyn said he predicts Kavanaugh will be confirmed somewhere in that range.
–The senator also commented on the state of the energy sector.
“I never cease to be amazed at the Permian Basin … and the men and women who create all of these ingenious means to extract oil and gas from the ground,” Cornyn said. “The Permian Basin seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, although I know there’s a lot of pressure on the region for infrastructure.”
He said he has spoken with officials about a long-term view of what is necessary in education and infrastructure.
“One of the biggest challenges that I’ve heard, though, is that things are so productive here that there’s a shortage of pipelines.” he said, “Unfortunately the debate over tariffs – over steel and aluminum – are getting in the way of some of that development.”
Cornyn said Congress is working with the Trump administration to get to a fair-trade paradigm where there will not be tariffs on the steel necessary to build the pipelines.
By: Tori Aldana
Read the full article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram.