Thursday, April 9, 2009

State Representative Jim Watson speaks at Republican Womens Lunch

As we journey through this thing called life, occasionally we stumble upon someone truly remarkable. Peoria county Republican Women will agree that they did just that at Wednesday's luncheon when they were introduced to key note speaker State Representative Jim Watson. A quick youtube and google search of his name will give you just a sampling of the amazing story of this not-so-ordinary politician.

Representative Watson, who represents the 97th District (Springfield vicinity), is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. He had some amazing and inspiring stories to tell - and he doesn't hold back. He described the good, the bad and the ugly of his most recent tour- starting with the wrenching decision as to whether or not he should voluntarily embark upon another extended and dangerous tour of duty as the father of 3 children. "Once a marine, always a marine" Jim explained, and he knew some of his fellow marines were serving their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tours of duty. Additionally, he knew instinctively that he had the expertise they needed the most - government building. In his capacity as state legislator, he knew that he possessed the tools to help them succeed. True to the Marine spirit, Jim answered the call larger than himself and in February of 2008, departed for Iraq. His mission - to teach ordinary Iraqi's who have suffered under years of terror and oppression to learn to govern themselves.

Jim had a slide show presentation that illustrated their daily lives, their challenges and their successes. We were all moved as he showed the friendships and trust that developed between the people of Iraq and their Western liberators. He described the need for resourcefulness as the government they were to build would start from nothing. Jim explained how he downloaded Illinois statutes as a basis and modified them to fit the needs of the Iraqi people. He explained the challenges of instilling confidence in new Iraqi government leaders when those that fulfilled similar roles before them had been cruelly tortured and executed.

Jim completed his second tour of duty in September of '08. He said it was quite an adjustment returning to the relative opulence of American life. "Who would have ever thought that you would miss ice-cubes, or pavement?" He is somewhat disturbed by our cultures propensity to squander and take advantage of the opportunities we have here in America. I was reminded of our own election the day before where less than 20% of eligible voters turned out to vote.

Jim agrees with the current Obama Administration policy on Iraq. He feels that a gradual pull-out is in order and that this is the right time to begin the transition of power. In no small part due to the efforts of Representative Jim Watson and his comrades. Thank you, Jim, for blessing the Peoria Republicans, and thank you for your outstanding and selfless service to our country.

If you are so moved, you can send him an e-mail at and thank him as well.


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