June 15, 2013

Flag Day: Manchin visits veterans; has town hall-style meeting | Register-Herald

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin celebrated Flag Day in Greenbrier County, conducting a town hall-style meeting at the Fairlea Senior Center and visiting with military veterans at the Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Maxwelton.

“People take Flag Day for granted,” Manchin told a luncheon gathering of around 60 people, including some 35 senior citizens, in Fairlea.

“That flag still represents freedom around the world,” he said, leading up to his first topic: Immigration.

“People come here looking for economic opportunity,” Manchin said as he pointed out that there are currently nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

With such large numbers at stake, he said, it is not feasible to “round them all up and ship them back where they came from.” Manchin said a more realistic alternative is to “find a pathway to citizenship” for those who have put down roots in this country, demonstrated a strong work ethic and are willing to become taxpaying members of American society.

Manchin also spoke of responsibility in reiterating his argument in favor of limited background checks for firearms purchases, a position that has put him in the National Rifle Association’s crosshairs.

“I’m a proud gun owner,” Manchin said. “I’m not going to sell my gun to a stranger. That’s just my responsibility as a law-abiding, responsible gun owner.”

Likewise, he said, those selling weapons at gun shows and online should demonstrate responsibility by assuring that their customers are not felons, terrorists or mentally unbalanced.

Manchin also touched upon such issues as Social Security and Medicare, gasoline prices and the prospect of U.S. intervention in Syria.

On that last point, he said, “I don’t believe we’re going to accomplish anything over there.”

Answering a Register-Herald reporter’s question about the continuation of funding for the air traffic control tower at Greenbrier Valley Airport, Manchin said, “It’s a matter of public safety.”

He added, “If we can just work through the budget problems, that will all be resolved. I think we can do that.”

Manchin presented an American flag to John Wyman, executive director of the Greenbrier County Committee on Aging, the agency that operates the Senior Centers in Fairlea and Rupert.

The senator later presented a flag to officials at the Veterans Affairs clinic near the airport in Maxwelton.