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The Murtha legacy: A fitting honor

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

Given how much time the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha spent with wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., renaming that facility's cancer center in his honor is an especially fitting tribute to his legacy of concern for U.S. military personnel.

The John P. Murtha Cancer Center became the official name at a Monday ceremony. The Johnstown Democrat's widow, Joyce, their sons John and Patrick, and other relatives were on hand with members of Congress and federal officials at the medical complex that inspired and reflected his passion for aiding the military.

That was a calling throughout Mr. Murtha's 36 years in Congress, where the Marine veteran didn't just secure billions of dollars for military medical research. He also visited the wounded weekly at Walter Reed — but never allowed the media to cover those visits.

He wanted to avoid exploiting those patients, according to Mrs. Murtha, who said he had a knack for putting them at ease. Those Murtha visited surely remember — and miss — his presence there. Walter Reed nurses certainly do; they told his widow nobody has had the same effect on the wounded that her husband did.

Jack Murtha's efforts to meet America's sacred obligation to all who wear its uniform were nothing less than exemplary. Now, his name on the Walter Reed cancer center beckons others to ensure that this nation continues to fulfill that obligation.

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