Wednesday, August 26, 2009


August 26, 2009

My Congressman, Chet Edwards, showed he was a patient, gracious, and I have to say, brave man. He stood up and answered all questions--some many quite hostile--for two hours in front of 1200 people and maintained his poise. If you don't understand what this means, you have probably been on vacation and had the national news off of several weeks. I had the amazing opportunity to introduce him tonight at the Health Care Town Hall he was holding.

When I visited with Chet backstage beforehand, he thanked me for my willingness to introduce him and apologized for asking me to do something so hard. I told him that compared with other things I've faced this didn't seem that hard.

Here's what I said and here is a link to the entire town hall first hour of the actual video (for my intro, skip the commercial and go forward into the video about 40 seconds) and here is the second hour.

Good evening and welcome. I’m Vickie Buenger, an almost lifelong resident of Brazos County. Many of you know me better as Erin’s mom. My daughter, Erin, died this April after fighting cancer for seven years. She was almost twelve. It is because of her that I am here tonight.

I have the pleasure, privilege, and honor to introduce to you a man long on credentials: he’s a nine-term U.S, Congressman, representing the 17th district of Texas, a senior member of both the House Budget and Appropriations Committees, and Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. In addition, he serves on the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, as vice chair of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, and co-chairs the House Army Caucus.

You could get this information from his website or resume. I’d like to introduce the man I know through my daughter Erin with whom he shared warm respect and mutual admiration. She viewed him not only as her Congressman, but as a great person and a great friend. She admired him as an attentive listener and a caring and thoughtful person.

Here’s the story of the first time Erin and I met Chet, in her own nine-year-old words, which she felt compelled to send to The Eagle, so everyone else could know about their Congressman, too:

“I went to Chet Edwards’ office in Washington D.C. to ask for his help with a bill about pediatric cancer research. We were scheduled for a short meeting, but he gave us more time and even made people wait while we finished talking. He listened to me and my mother and took what I had to say seriously. He is good to me, and I bet he will be good to you, too.”

She left out the part that impressed her the most that day. He kept a big bowl of Skittles in him office and shared them with her as we talked.

As their friendship deepened and grew, we got to know many facets of Chet. He was a true family man and dad–Dining in the MSC at a pre-game lunch, between rapidly flowing conversation and clattering forks, Chet looked over and noticed Erin, sitting at his side, was eating everything on her plate, except her piece of roast beef. Without missing a beat, he reached over and cut her meat into bite-sized pieces for her and without a word about it, continued his conversation. Now, I don't think cutting other people's meat is necessarily a skill you have to hone to be a good Congressman (in fact, it might bother your colleague if you cut up his meat for him at a Congressional banquet), but it sure told me that Chet was a clued-in dad and that he cared about people.

As a fifth grader Erin was chosen to teach her fellow students about how a bill becomes a law. She wrote Chet for his advice, and learned that he would be in town the day she had to teach. So instead of advice, she asked him to come to her school to help her out, adding in her email to him “and you would be a great visual aid.” In fact, he did help her co-teach and was the best visual aid any fifth grader ever had.

We have this caring, thoughtful person with us this evening, Erin’s “Best Adult Friend” and our Congressman, Chet Edwards.


  1. GREAT introduction, Vickie! Chet was lucky to have you at his back tonight, and I'm so glad we've got Chet!

  2. thank you vickie for sharing such important and some intimate moments of your lives. and thanks to chet for speaking about health care. i hope he's on the side of reform. i told one professor today - who is also on the side of reform - that i can't get the care i need because of $. i think it was difficult for him to hear that a student in his department was in such a position.

  3. We need more Congressmen like Chet and more constituents like you. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for everything that you shared, your words where very heartfelt. I think that it is very important for people to hear stories like yours; the more this issue is personalized the more people will be able to understand why changes need to be made.

  5. Vickie, you are a wonderful person. No wonder you were chosen to be Erin's mom.

  6. Hi Vickie,
    Your introduction was lovely. I agree that Chet's cutting Erin's meat was the sign of someone totally clued in to other people and where they are. You are lucky to have him as your congressman.
    I couldn't watch after Chet spoke because I thought I might hear things that might make my blood boil. I don't understand the total clinging to status quo. There certainly are problems. Why are people resisting a well considered reform. Isn't that what Americans are famous for? Solving problems and doing things better? Why not fix it?

    P.S. Did you see Paul Krugman's editorial