Madam Chair, I would like to thank Chairman CALVERT for his great work on this bill, and my colleague Mr. OLSON for his support of this amendment. My amendment would simply reduce the National Recreation and Preservation account by $20 million, and then increase it by the same amount with the intent of using these funds to increase the budget of the National Maritime Heritage grant program.
This program provides federal funding for local and state operated maritime educational exhibits and preservation projects. The United States has a rich history of maritime excellence that has played an important role in the U.S. becoming the powerful nation that it is today.
It is important that we preserve these great ships rather than let them fall into disrepair. It is an insult to their legacy to let them sink rather than help them stay afloat.
For example, right outside my district back in Texas floats the Battleship Texas, the last great dreadnought. But maybe not for long.
Growing up, I always looked forward to visiting the Battleship. My best friend and I would climb from top to bottom, firing every gun and squeezing down every port hole.
When commissioned in 1914 she was the most powerful war ship the world had ever seen. She was the first of her kind to mount anti- aircraft guns, use commercial radar, and launch an aircraft.
As the flagship of the U.S. fleet, she battered the Nazi defenses during the D-Day invasion at Normandy and also helped the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Then, at the end of the war, she made three trips to bring American servicemen back home.
Today, she serves as a museum and a reminder of wars long past. Nearly 70 years after school children used nickels and dimes to pay for her move to her namesake state, here she still floats, but maybe not for long.
The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife has jurisdiction of the battle wagon, but state funding has been sporadic and federal funding non-existent. That is where this amendment comes into play.
We owe it to the Texans who served to save the Battleship Texas. This battleship, like so many battlefields and sacred, historical landmarks across our country, is consecrated with the blood of Americans.
Without the Texas, things might have gone a little bit differently for us at D-Day or in the Pacific Theater.
And that’s just the way it is.