Thank you, thank you all. I am so honored to be here. So humbled to be elected representative of the 8th District. I just heard from Joe Walsh a couple of minutes ago. He was very gracious. He ran an aggressive campaign, and I want to spend this time to acknowledge that he offered to let his congressional office help us set up our new one. He was very gracious.
Thank you to everyone here to tonight. Thank you to all our volunteers and donors. We won because of you. You and your ground game. You answering my calls for help. Coming in after work, on the weekends. I would never have been able to do this without your unbelievable support. You, my friends, stood with me when others tried to buy this election. Together, we kept faith with the nation and exercised the freedoms for which our ancestors fought. You worked every day to ensure that our government will be one where rational people seek practical solutions for the nation's challenges. A place where the word "compromise" will not be ridiculed.
One wonderful woman touched my heart when she mailed me grocery coupons to help us feed our volunteers. She knows I love coupons. You see, it was all she could afford to give, and she asked me, "Please, Tammy, look out for me, because I'm on a fixed income and I'm just barely getting by." So thank you to each one of you for giving me the opportunity to look out for her.
Thank you also to all my staff, my dear friends and advisors who joined me on this journey.
Most importantly, thank you to our military men and women, our veterans and their families, for the blood you shed, the heartache you endured, and the wounds—both visible and unseen—you suffer daily just so we as a nation could exercise the liberties of this great democracy.
And I especially want to thank my family—my husband, Brian, my mom, Lamai, and my brother, Tom, who are here to celebrate with us tonight.
Throughout the campaign, many of you heard me speak of my dad. He was a proud soldier and Marine who fought for our country, but he struggled with unemployment later in life. He never for a moment gave up on himself. He taught me that a little perseverance goes a long way. My father had a heart attack and passed away while he was visiting me at Walter Reed while I was recovering from my own wounds. I know he'd be proud of my right now. Oorah, Dad.
Thank you for entrusting me with this duty. I am proud to be your servant in Congress. Together, we bring a new attitude to Washington. Starting on my first day I will remind the Congress that we are here to serve, not to obstruct. All Americans should be served by their government.
We will value those who labor for a day's wages as much as those who achieve wealth through investments. As a nation, we have many challenges, but I'm ready to face them, as I have always. I am ready to find practical solutions to the problems we face. I am ready to serve you.
Over the course of the last 18 months, I've not heard anyone asking for a handout. What I've heard were people asking for strong and responsive government to be there when they need it. I heard parents asking to make health care for their children more affordable. I heard the disabled asking for real access. I heard seniors asking to keep the guaranteed benefits they worked an entire lifetime for. I heard mayors asking for resources so they can get back to work, making their roads smoother, business districts more modern and big bridges stronger. I heard business owners asking me to make securing a loan just a little bit easier so they can finally put people back to work.
Imbedded on our character, in the character of every American, are the traits that made this nation great. Whenever we see an obstacle, we work to overcome it. When we face adversity, we find a way to turn it to our advantage. When we are knocked down, each of us will struggle mightily to return to self-reliance. We pull together, and we don't leave those who have experienced a tragedy to fend for themselves. Most importantly, we do believe in America, because we believe in Americans.
There are two days in November that are important to me. There's this amazingly wonderful Election Day that we're enjoying tonight, and then there's my Alive Day, the anniversary of my shoot-down in Iraq. It was on Nov. 12, just a couple of days from now, that I was co-piloting my Blackhawk, when we took enemy fire and were hit with a rocket-propelled grenade that exploded in my lap and ripped off one leg and crushed the other and took off most of my right arm. That's when I entered what military doctors call the Golden Hour. It's the hour after a catastrophic injury when life hangs in the balance, when everything depends on getting immediate help. It's in that hour that so many of our warriors lives are saved by the heroism of their buddy, who simply refuse to let them die. I don't remember much of my Golden Hour, but I know that my crew didn't give up on me. Even though insurgents were just a few hundred yards away and they were wounded themselves, they lived up to their creed of never leaving a fallen comrade behind. Their heroism is why I'm alive today.
I believe that America is in her Golden Hour. Our beloved nation is faced with challenges that have shaken us to our core. The only way to pull America through her Golden Hour is how my crew pulled me through mine—by looking out for one another, by fighting for the hardest hit, by understanding that we are in this together. We have mountains of challenges in front of us right now. So let's turn those great obstacles into our greatest opportunities. We have a lot of work to do, but I know that together, we will get it done.
Thank you so much for your support. I look forward to being your Congresswoman. God bless each and every one of you. God bless our troops who are in harm's way right now. And always—God bless the United States of America.