A guest commentary by Credo Amouzouvik
My name is Credo Amouzouvik, and I’m running for Congress in the 7th Congressional District of Tennessee. I wanted to take a moment to speak with you, the voters in Tennessee and tell you a little bit about myself.
With the upcoming election it is very important that the voters of the 7th Congressional District know the people they are voting for. Here is everything you could possibly know about myself.
I was born in Togo, which is a very small country in West Africa. I was raised in a family of nine, with one brother and five sisters. The same family values that Tennesseans hold dear were instilled in me from a very early age; these included trust in God, respect for my elders and those in positions of authority, hard work, helping others, believing in myself, standing up for what you believe in, and standing up for those who can’t stand for themselves. I’ve learned from a very early age how to keep a clean house, cooking food, as well as loving nature. I, like many other Tennesseans enjoys swimming, fishing, and hunting.
I was brought up with some very strict religious and conservative values. You put God first, your work hard, and you always treat people like you would want to be treated. These are values that the people of Tennessee will recognize.
I moved to the United States in 2000, to attend college. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I joined the U.S. Army to help defend and fight for this great country, I went to war where I was injured in combat, and was medically retired.
9/11 was personal to me, because my sister was living about 30 blocks from the World Trade Center. It really woke me up. She could’ve been one of the victims of those tragic attacks. I was a student at “Bellevue University” of Nebraska, and I was getting ready for school that morning and like usual had CNN on the TV. I turned to face the TV as the 2nd plane fly into the towers. That was an unbelievable sight, and I was soon in a state of shock. After a few moments, I got on the phone and called my sister to find out if she was okay. She was safe!
I thought about the attacks for days wondering why would someone do this horrible thing, a question that everyone in America was asking the same. When the word came out that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks, and that the United States were waging war on our enemies, a group of friends and I decided that we would stand up, join the Army, and help take the fight to those who attacked this country.
I was given the privilege of becoming an American citizen in Omaha, Nebraska.
I went to basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I owe my allegiance to the United States of America, I have sworn to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I will stand by that oath; and I don’t care when that call comes, I will honor it.
The United States is a country that everyone in the world wants to be a part of. That is because of the diversity that you find in the United States. Being given the opportunity to become an American citizen is great privilege. As an American citizen, what sets us apart from everyone else in the world is: We are our brother’s keeper. We stand for righteousness. We will always fight for the widow and the weak. That we will always stand for freedom and the truth. Life is about the choices we make, everything we do in this life is ultimately comes down to our choices. Once your choice is made, then made you deal with the consequences, which are either good or bad. But we always have our choices. And I chose to become an American citizen.
My time in the Army was great; it was both learning and a growing experience. I assigned to be part of the 3/320th Field Artillery Unit, which was part of the Screaming Eagles, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The camaraderie I’ve experienced with my fellow soldiers was amazing. As we fought together side-by-side every soldier trusted the others with their lives.
War is never a good thing. War is an ugly thing we should always choose war as the very last resort. Because what happens in war is total destruction and it will mark you for the rest of your life. Yes, we went and did what we had to do. Saddam Hussein was removed, we crippled the insurgency, returned Iraq to the Iraqis, and we got out. But the soldiers who serve in combat zones are marked for life; they will never be the same again. I am one of those soldiers.
To travel a 15 minutes route, it would feel like a two-hour trip, because of the tension. Before departing each soldier writes a letter to the family in case something happens to them on the mission. Once the tires start rolling, we were all waiting for the unexpected, the question on every soldier’s mind is “when is it going to happen, when are we going to be hit”, “who is going to die,” thoughts like these rush through the soldiers minds. Until something happens, everyone is on the edge. But the moment something happens, thanks to the Army training we all know what to do, and rush into action.
One day it happened to me. We were returning from a mission around 3 o’clock in the morning when an IED exploded in front of our Humvee. The vehicle ended up in the crater left by the explosion. I was injured, but because of the shock I was unaware of the severity. Our primary concern was to fight to get out of the kill zone.
A few days later I started to experience pain and tingling in my extremities and it was discovered that I’d broken my neck from the C-1 vertebrae down the C-5, and had suffered damage to both of my knees. I was med-evacuated to Germany and then back to Fort Campbell.
I remember my doctor Col. Freeman, who was the chief orthopedic surgeon at Fort Campbell at that time, telling me that he could not operate on me because I would die. It was almost a year later, before Major Russell Davidson out of Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia, told me that I had a 50-50 chance to survive after the surgery. I was also told that even if I did make it that there is a chance that I would be paralyzed. But he was willing to at least try.
When he asked if I had any questions for him, so I asked him if he was going to leave a big scar on my neck; he responded are you trying to be a neck model? He did the surgery for the first time and it didn’t work, and they had to go back and do it again. Then after that they had to put screws and cables in my neck and I had to go back a few times for injections into my spine. So I’ve had at least 5 to 6 procedures altogether.
People always ask me if I would do it again, and I always respond, “Yes! I would.” I thank God for being here. I am really grateful. That’s one of the reasons why I will use the life that I’ve been given to serve other people.
Here is a little story happened in Togo, when I was in high school. Teachers were having issues with the government, and I didn’t feel like they were being treated right. So I have organized a protest that other students have left the classrooms to join in on the streets.
It’s hard for me to stand by and watch things going wrong. That is just my nature. I’m driven to action when things are going wrong. Being a member of the Democratic Party is an exceptional thing to me, throughout the history of the United States, the Democratic Party has always worked hard to protect the middle class. They have always worked hard for the working class the United States of America. They have always worked hard to protect the women of this country, giving them their place in our society. That is the reason why I am a Democrat today. We value the hard-working people of the United States and we value all women. We fight to make sure that we have a level playing field for all Americans.
The motivation to run for elected office came from my oldest son Martavion (Tay). I had grown complacent with my life, I am retired and one day my son challenged that complacency. You’ve created a foundation that has helped many people, you have always extended your hand to help the poor, you have always stood up for people who been oppressed. So what happened to you? He asked. It seems like you have given up on the things that have always been important to you. This caused me to open my eyes and take a hard look at what is really going on with our community, our state, and our country.
After talking to people throughout our community. I personally came to understand that our representation in Congress has been sadly lacking leadership and is not representing our District; she went to Washington and became the problem instead of the solution. Senior citizens throughout the 7th congressional district tell me of the fear that they will lose their Medicare, Medicaid under the Republican plans. People worry about not having a roof over the head. Tennesseans wonder if they’ll keep their jobs, the next month. Women are so afraid that through the actions of the Republicans in the state legislature, they will slowly lose control over their lives and bodies. Campaigning through the district has been a heartwarming experience, and I want to thank the people of this district for receiving me with open arms. Nevertheless, their stories are what really strike home. They remind me that we have a lot of work to do.
We lack leadership in Congress right now. Congressional approval is the lowest it has been in the entire history of the United States. Our representative Marsha Blackburn is not representing the people here at home. When looking at the job that my opponent has done during her time in office, one can only rate it as pitiful. She has shown that her loyalties lay not with the people of our district, but with her party, and the people who give money to her campaign. The record of her time as our representative shows this quite clearly.
When was the last time Marsha Blackburn fought to keep jobs here in our district, or to bring new jobs to Tennessee? I’ve lived in the 7th Congressional District for almost 9 years, and during this time I have seen so many hard working people lose their jobs, its downright scary. Marsha Blackburn’s positions against Tennessee workers have been equally clear with votes against increasing the minimum wage, allowing employer interference in union organizing, supporting free-trade measures while opposing assisting workers who lose their jobs as a result, as well as voting against allowing shareholders a say on executive compensations.
When was the last time Marsha Blackburn fought to help working-class Tennesseans keep their health insurance? She wants to kill the healthcare bill instead.
When was the last time Marsha Blackburn fought for our senior citizens, to protect Medicare or Medicaid, so that they will have the lowest possible medication costs?
When was the last time Marsha Blackburn stood up for the rights of our women? There is no record on this issue because she voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, argued in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, as well voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
That is not the type of leadership we need to represent the 7th Congressional District in Congress.
A common question heard throughout the 7th congressional district run this election season is “Where is Marsha Blackburn?” The sad fact is that Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is missing in action. An election is an opportunity for your candidates to hear your point of view on the issues facing our district and the state. No matter where I go in the 7th congressional district, people are tired, they can’t even get access to their representative, and more importantly the people of our district have not seen her lately.
My opponent is a prominent member of the Republican Party, and so must bear some responsibility for their policies. When Todd Akin made his comment about legitimate rape, why did we not see Marsha Blackburn standing up front defending the women of her district and the nation? Indeed, Blackburn cast an indefensible vote against women with her vote against the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act of 2009, which allows women to hold businesses to account for their discriminatory pay practices.
I would appreciate if the voters of our district will choose to send me to Washington to represent them and send Marsha Blackburn home, because I will go to Washington DC to represent the interests of the residents of my district and no one else. My first name Credo means “I believe,” and here are some of the things that I believe in…
I’m a strong believer in community service, I was taught as a child that when a neighbor needs help, you step in and roll up your sleeves. The hard-working people of Tennessee know that good people always will stand up for those who cannot help themselves. This led me to found the Homeffa Foundation, an organization that was involved in providing disaster relief after the devastating earthquakes in Haiti in 2010, and right here at home after the great flood of 2010 in Clarksville, Tennessee.
I believe that education is the new world currency. We know that to have a strong economic system we need a strong education system. I would start first by working to improve our education system here in Tennessee. Teaching to the test is not working. I will work to direct more of our tax dollars toward our education system, to hire teachers and to reduce our classroom sizes. We need to make sure that our teachers are given the best tools to enable them to educate our children. We need to pay our teachers more to ensure that they have peace of mind and feel rewarded for the hard task they have at hand, so they can spend their time concentrating on teaching our children, rather than worrying about how to pay their bills. An investment in our teachers will pay great dividends for our future.
I believe in a strong America, no one in this country has no reason to fear any country on this earth. We accomplish this, both through our military might, and by our diplomatic acumen. By exercising our empathy and compassion, as well as working to build a better understanding of our fellow human beings, we can find a path forward, that leads to peace, security, and stability for all of the nations of the earth.
I believe in taking care of our seniors, so that are able to enjoy their retirement with a piece of mind.
I believe that women should have the right to speak for themselves, as well as choosing for themselves.
I believe that the voters of Tennessee will make the right choice in this election, selecting me to represent them in the halls of Congress to carry their voice.
Thank you so much Tennessee, for giving me this opportunity.
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