Hearings and Business Meetings
February 16, 2006
SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 01:30 PM
Honorable Sam Brownback
S. J. Res. 28
Statement of Senator Sam Brownback
Subcommittee on National Parks
February 15, 2006
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, for conducting this hearing today and providing me the opportunity to speak in support of a resolution that I sponsored with Senators Stevens, Inouye, Roberts and Reed. It is with great pleasure that I speak to you not only on behalf of this resolution, but on behalf of a great leader and fellow Kansan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Most people know Eisenhower as a courageous five-star general who served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, led the D-day invasion in June 1944 and later was commander of NATO. Less often is Eisenhower recognized for his contributions as the 34th President of the United States. Under his Administration from 1953 to 1961, President Eisenhower was the driving force behind bringing statehood to Alaska and Hawaii, strengthening the Social Security system for 10 million more Americans, and bringing the St. Lawrence Seaway to completion. He was also instrumental in the creation of the interstate highway system, the largest public works program in U.S. history that created a 41,000-mile highway system. Eisenhower was also a strong proponent of civil rights. He pressed for passage of the first two Civil Rights Acts since Reconstruction and ordered the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces. Furthermore, he showed his commitment to this cause by sending troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, to assure compliance with the orders of a Federal court. He once wrote, “There must be no second class citizens in this country.”
Eisenhower believed America needed to be modernized in transportation, space and aviation. Drawing from his Kansas roots, he took our state motto, “Ad Astra per Aspera,” meaning to the stars through difficulties, literally by creating the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Quite appropriately, the proposed memorial site would be steps away from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air and Space Museum, which houses many artifacts donated by NASA.
President Eisenhower was one of the most dedicated public servants in American history. He is recognized for his role as a peacemaker, his diplomatic record and his faith in democracy. President Eisenhower’s Administration saw the end of the Korean War, dealt with crises in Lebanon, Suez, Berlin and Hungary, established the basic national defense policies that kept our country safe during the Cold War, and prevented nuclear war. His commitment to democratic processes and international peace stand as his lasting legacy to the Nation.
This extensive list of accomplishments would have caused most men to boast. Dwight D. Eisenhower was not most men; at his core, he was and would always remain true to his Kansas values. Born October 14, 1890, Eisenhower was raised in Abilene, Kansas, the third of seven sons. Eisenhower was a great athlete, but his career came to an end after he injured his knee trying to tackle the legendary Jim Thorpe. With professional sports no longer a career option, Eisenhower found his place in the United States Army and performed his duties well. Although his administrative abilities had been noticed by the military, on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War II, he had never held an active command and was far from being considered a potential commander of a major operation. Eisenhower persisted, remained humble and hard-working, and continued to perform to the best of his abilities. General George Marshall took notice and recognized his great organizational and administrative abilities. In a few short years, Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and left his mark on history for all time.
In his now famous speech that would have been delivered if the invasion of Normandy failed, Eisenhower took full responsibility and said that if any blame or fault is attached to the attempt at Normandy, it was his alone. He was offered the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the European Theater but refused it, saying that it should be reserved for bravery and valor. Eisenhower said, “Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.” It is the humility, bravery and sacrifice of this man that we wish to honor with a memorial.
The United States Congress created the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission to consider and formulate plans for a permanent memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, including its nature, construction and location. This Commission has worked tirelessly to research the most suitable memorial sites and, after months of consideration, voted in favor of a location across the street from the National Air and Space Museum at the intersection of Independence and Maryland Avenues, a site within the boundaries of Area 1. This resolution approves the Secretary of the Interior’s recommendation that the Eisenhower Memorial be located within Area 1. This Area is reserved for commemorative works whose subjects are of “pre-eminent historical and lasting significance to the Nation.” President Eisenhower’s life and legacy certainly had and will continue to have a lasting significance and deserve a memorial site to perpetuate his memory and his contributions to the United States.
I am pleased to join with my colleagues and enthusiastically support this resolution before the Committee today. All over the United States and the world there are memorials that have been named in Eisenhower’s remembrance. Schools, roads, bridges, buildings, hospitals and parks are named in his honor and organizations and programs have been created in his name. It is time that we honored him in our Nation’s capital by creating a permanent memorial to acknowledge the lasting impression he left on this city, the state of Kansas, the United States and the world.
We want to ensure that the distinguished legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower lives on and serves as a stirring reminder of the sacrifices and triumphs that created this Nation - a nation united in our past and looking boldly towards our future.
I again thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of this resolution and look forward to working with you in order to move this resolution through the Senate.