Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Sense of History

The following is from Congressman Rush Holt's newsletter

July 20th marked the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. The idea of going to the moon was daring and maybe even quixotic, but true to our traditional American character: thoroughly optimistic.

A sense of our history helps us understand whether we are making progress in things like science, research, protecting the environment, and the humanities, but it also helps us understand whether we are making progress as a country. In some ways, yes. We are conducting some of the most ingenious research that is helping people understand our universe. We are making in America some of the most innovative things that are sought after, even essential in the modern world. But with a sense of history we must also ask: are we true today to our traditional American character? Specifically, I find myself asking, is Congress staying true to that American tradition of optimism?

Think about the Morrill Act of 1862, which established out nation’s land grant college system, including Rutgers University, to advance research, agriculture, and commerce. In 1863, President Lincoln also signed the law creating the National Academy of Sciences, chartered not just as an honorific, but as a working agency to help the country grow in a smart way. Both were passed at a very difficult time – during the Civil War – when it was not obvious that the country could afford to do so.

These creations were optimistic – as were the GI Bill and the Civil Rights Act, about which I have written to you recently, and so many other public programs. The history of the U.S. is a history of enormous economic, social, technological, and cultural optimism. Our indisputable success as a nation over two centuries shows that our optimism has been well justified, and a good case can be made that American optimism has a lot to do with American success. I still find among most Americans that traditional optimism, despite some economic hard times, but our government at present does not match that optimism. I regret that so much of the talk in Washington is about what we cannot do, what our deficit - or our obsessions with it - will not allow us to do. Just imagine if at this time of near-zero interest rates, we invested boldly in education, infrastructure, and research! (From my remarks at a reception earlier this month.)

Supporting Our First Responders

Last week, I successfully assisted Fire District No. 1 in Franklin Township, Somerset County, in securing a $450,242 federal grant to replace outdated firefighting equipment.

I often visit with local first responders and see firsthand how important it is that they have the right training and equipment to keep us safe. Saying "thanks" to firefighters is only part of the support they need. Equipment and training take money.

Upcoming Academy Nomination Deadline

America’s military service academies provide a four-year college education, with full scholarship, to young men and women who pledge to serve as the next generation of leaders in the U.S. military services. I am currently accepting application for upcoming academy nominations, and welcome applicants from all areas of the 12th District. The information packet and application form are available on my website, and October 1, 2014 is the deadline to submit all materials. For questions and additional information, please email Zainab Chaudary on my staff at


Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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