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Public Statements

Act Commemorating the Lite, or Lifetime Innovations of Thomas Edison

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1096, a piece of legislation that benefits an important historic landmark from my home State of New Jersey, the Thomas Edison National Historic Site.

I also want to thank my colleagues from the other side of the aisle for their support and their hard work on this as well, Congressman DONALD PAYNE and Congressman BILL PASCRELL for all their work in joining with me in sponsoring this important legislation.

Tom Edison's contributions, most notably the incandescent light bulb, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph, have had a profound effect on the way people live their lives around the world. In fact, Life Magazine once honored him as the most important individual for the last 1,000 years.

The Thomas Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey is a national treasure, encompassing Edison's home of 45 years, his laboratories and offices, and a vast collection of artifacts and historic documents.

Since 1997, the Edison Preservation Foundation has successfully partnered with the National Park Service to provide resources for the restoration of the site's historic buildings, artifacts and such, and plans to establish an endowment to support it for future operation including education programs for children. This partnership is really a great example of the public/private partnership working together and can serve as a role model for other programs in the future considering scarce financial Federal resources.

Unfortunately, both the historic structures where Edison lived and worked and irreplaceable treasures they now hold are at serious risk due to extensive water and damage and age-related decay. Although the site historically has been a major education destination for students from around the region, the need for renovations has led to a temporary closure of the site to visitors. While private support through the efforts of the Edison Preservation Foundation is crucial to efforts to restore the site, a long-term commitment from the Federal Government is also necessary for future success. So to ensure this long-term commitment, we have H.R. 1096, which commemorates Edison's lifetime accomplishments; redesignates, consistent with the National Park Service guidelines, the Edison Historic Site as the National Historic Park; and authorizes appropriations for the support of the site. This legislation will enable the Edison site to more effectively compete for scarce Federal funds and it would also strengthen the Edison Preservation Foundation's ability to raise private dollars.

Finally, Thomas Edison's legacy is an important component of the history of the State of New Jersey and the United States. So it is important that this Congress affirm its support for the Edison site by advancing this legislation.


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