A Kansas congressman believes the future of America is bright, if it has leaders willing to make unpopular decisions in the years ahead.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a freshman Republican from Fowler, was at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Saturday morning addressing a military service academy nomination committee and candidates.
Huelskamp said it was appropriate to address candidates who plan to serve their country and in some cases may want to pursue public service. The country faces unprecedented challenges at home and abroad. He appreciates their willingness to serve their country first through military service.
Each year members of Congress have the opportunity to nominate young men and women between the ages of 18 to 23 to apply for a limited number of positions at four of the nation's five military service academies.
As he offered a welcome, he paused for a moment, to reflect on Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general and later president from 1953-61.
"We do sit in the hallowed grounds of a great president and general," he said.
In the past year he has taken interest in reading more about Ike and he encouraged those in the audience to do the same.
"He predicted what would happen long after he left office," he said in reference to Ike's farewell address delivered in January 1961 in which the nation's 34th president warned of cost of war, government interference in the private sector and unchecked spending.
The congressman told about a man who as a teenager heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor and left his job in a pipeline camp to enlist in the Army in December 1941. In his district he told the story of Howard Hopkins, McPherson, who received his Medal of Honor more than 60 years after leaving office. Hopkins did not seek any recognition. It was his family who thought it was appropriate to recognize Hopkins. The McPherson man told Huelskamp that when news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred, Hopkins and a car load of his friends drove to Salina to enlist.
The stories are important because they are intra-generational stories that describe the commitment past generations have done in sacrifice for future generations, he said.
"We are the beacon of peace around the world and we will continue to be that way," the congressman said
After taking his oath of office in January 2011, he told the candidates that he also signed documentation that allowed him to have access to military intelligence, nearly all of it can never be disclosed.
Americans do have a sense that unless something is done to address critical issues, this country could face unprecedented decline and drifting from the principles of the founding fathers. Huelskamp said later was a reference to town hall meetings he has across the Big First District.
"I would say that only 15 percent to 20 percent of those who attend think the country is going in the right direction, when framed in context of the American dream."
Huelskamp said the First District, which has felt the impact of the global recession in 2008, has been buoyed by a better farm economy. But those attending the town hall meetings are concerned about the nation's debt, now at $16 trillion, and what has to be done so that it is not passed down to the next generation. The nation's debt, he said, steals opportunity from future generations because it does impact the economy. They are also concerned about the strength of the American military and cultural decline.
Huelskamp said, while the first two years of his tenure have been frustrating, he was glad he sought office and believes there will be opportunities to address important issues to constituents, from reducing the debt, tax relief to a new farm bill in the upcoming lameduck session.
As a Republican, he liked the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket and said a delivery of them into the White House would bring hope to those who have been concerned about the nation's decline.
"I have a good feeling about their message and I think in key states we (Republicans) are doing better," Huelskamp said.
He thought Republicans would control the House. While he did not spend much time studying the Senate races, his observation was that many races are too close to call. He also believed the 2012 election was an opportunity for Americans to make a statement about defining the role of government.
For the freshman lawmaker, he said if Republicans controlled the White House, Senate and House, he believed it was the best hope for change. However, he added that it was important to find bipartisan solutions.