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Ret. Navy SEAL GOP congressman’s oldest daughter dies

Derrick Van Orden speaks during a campaign rally for President Trump at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin on Oct. 27, 2020. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune/TNS)
August 23, 2023

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) shared sad news Tuesday of his oldest daughter’s passing after a valiant year-long fight against cancer.

“It is with the most profound sense of grief and joy that Sara Jane and I announce the passing of our oldest daughter, Sydney Marie (Van Orden) Martens after a year of battling a very aggressive form of cancer,” Van Orden stated.

A reitred U.S. Navy SEAL, Van Orden shared that Sydney “died peacefully surrounded by her family.” The weight of such a loss was clear in his words, as he expressed gratitude for the time they had shared. “We are heartbroken that we cannot share her smile and laugh in person any longer but are so thankful that she is resting with our Lord,” he said.

Sydney’s surviving circle of family members includes her husband, Chris; children Madelyn, Charlie, and Roman; her father, Derrick; her mother, Sara Jane; and an extended family of her siblings, grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins.

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The outpouring of support for the Van Orden family was immediate, illustrating that moments of personal loss can bridge the political divide.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) extended his condolences, remarking, “No parent should have to experience this kind of heartbreak. I’m praying for @RepVanOrden and his family during this tragic time.”

McCarthy’s sentiment was echoed by the House Republican Conference, which tweeted, “We are all praying for @RepVanOrden and his family during this tragic time.”

Expressions of sympathy for the Van Orden stretched across party lines, with both Republicans and Democrats offering support for the family. Former Vice President Mike Pence reached out, tweeting, “@karenpence and I send our very deepest sympathies and prayers to Derrick, Sara Jane and their entire family.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) also showcased unity in grief, expressing her sorrow and support for Rep. Van Orden and his family.

In response to the outpouring of support for the Van Orden family, Derrick Van Orden stated, “Thank you for all of the tender mercies you have shown to our family. May God bless you all.”

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.