Rylee McCollum Honored During Wyoming House Session
During the Wyoming House afternoon session on Tuesday, the legislature honored lance corporal Rylee McCollum, who died in late August while serving in Afghanistan.
It began with chaplain Matthew Sullivan offering a prayer about the service of U.S. soldiers since 9/11.
"Holy lord and father we ask you to join us this afternoon as we seek to honor lance corporal Rylee McCollum and all of Wyoming's fallen heroes since 9/11," Sullivan said. "On that day, now over 20 years ago, our sense of safety within these borders was shattered. The events of 9/11 sparked a fervor of patriotism we hadn't seen for decades. Men and women from all over Wyoming stood up, raised their right hand, and swore to defend against this country's enemies. Sadly many of them lost their lives in that service, and we want to honor them today."
Eric Barlow, Speaker of the Wyoming House, read out a joint resolution, signed by all the members of the legislature, honoring McCollum for his sacrifice.
"The 66th Wyoming legislature of the state of Wyoming recognizes and honors lance corporal Rylee McCollum," Barlow said. "Be it resolved by the 66th Wyoming legislature, whereas lance corporal Rylee McCollum of Bondurant Wyoming was a beloved son, brother, husband, and father, to an infant daughter born shortly after his death, and whereas lance corporal Rylee McCollum was born on February 26, 2001, in Riverton, Wyoming, spent his early days in DuBoise, attended Jacksonhole High School and graduated from Summit Innovation High School, and graduated in 2019."
Representative Shelly Duncan then read a poem by McCollum's father, Jim McCollum, honoring his son.
"Many people don't know how prolific of a writer Jim McCollum is, us close to him do," Duncan said. "He's a poet, he's a writer, and to be able to get through all this, he has been gutting us every week, every day, so it was hard to choose. This is one that hopefully I can get through that honors the 13. 13 stripes, 13 stars, an American revolution, 11 marines, one army, one navy. Heroes in the Afghanistan confusion, coincidence, happenstance, a simple twist of fate. Love of country, love of fellow man, love in the face of hate. 13. My favorite number. 13, my date of birth. 13 angles, 13 stars and stripes, patriotism unearth. I'll know the meaning, I'll never know the why, I'll never forget. Always remembered. Till Valhalla, my friends, fly high."
Jim McCollum said he appreciated the work done by the Wyoming legislature and that Rylee was doing what he loved.
"I'm blessed to be here, surrounded by you guys. Thank you for this. Rylee was a patriot. Rylee was Wyoming through and through," McCollum said. "He knew wanted to be a marine from the time he was three years old. It wasn't I want to be a marine, it was always I'm gonna be a marine. And he did exactly what he wanted to do, he was exactly where he wanted to be, and we've learned in the aftermath that he was with who he wanted to be with, and died doing something greater than himself. You guys do that every day, I know you're making a difference for the rest of us, I like to think Rylee made a difference, thank you."
McCollum received a standing ovation after he finished speaking.
Governor Mark Gordon said a quote from a poem before thanking McCollum for his service to Wyoming and the country.
"In times of trouble, not before, God and soldier we adore. When in times of peace all things are righted, God and soldier are sometimes slighted," Gordon said. "Today Jim, I provide testimony of that poem, which was inscribed in the walls of a sentry house in Gibraltor in World War II, and I provide testimony that lance corporal Rylee McCollum, a marine, is part of our family, and we will never forget. Wyoming will never forget. All the men and women that have given their lives. God bless you, God bless Wyoming, and God bless this great country of ours. Thank you."
Barlow then read out the names of the 22 servicemembers from Wyoming who have died since 9/11.