tv Senator Cotton Remarks at Young Americas Foundation CSPAN August 9, 2019 2:17pm-2:58pm EDT
cabinet room and throughout the day you can see the windows were dark so we were in the nighttime and the module landed at 4:15 in the afternoon and the astronauts do not walk until later. >> explore our nation's past on american history tv every weekend on c-span3. up next, editor tom cotten speaking of the young america's foundation earlier this month. the arkansas republican spoke for about 40 minutes. [applause] >> thank you all very much. you very much for that kind introduction and thank you for the warm welcome but i'm impressed that so many college age students are here at 8:00 a.m. i know it sounds like you had a
late night bull session last night which a lot of my democratic colleagues in detroit did as well. i'm sure a few of you stood up to watch the democratic debates. i have to admit, i did not. i read the recaps this morning and seems like much seasoning and thoughts by the democrats have not yet made them come to their senses. understand were still advocating for decriminalized just decriminalizing our border illegally and deporting no one and in the meantime giving taxpayer-funded healthcare, too. in fact, one of my colleagues in the congress recently said that we have to provide taxpayer-funded abortion to illegal immigrants. which, i have to say, sounds like something some of you might come up with at a late night bull session when you're thinking of a parity about the democratic party positions might be.
i could go on and on about our democratic friends and what they were saying last night but i see that on your tables you all have a fascinated book in front of you. it is called sacred duty, tells the story of arlington national cemetery. i hope you all enjoy the book as much as i enjoyed writing it. the book is about the old guard of the army, third infantry regiment which i served in tours for afghanistan and it does the funerals and guard the tomb of the unknown soldier and ceremonies to honor today's soldiers and you can learn more detail about that but i want to share a few things that did not make it into the book they got stuck on the cutting room floor about arlington national cemetery because i think there's lessons in it for all of you at
your age and the stage of your lives. raise your hand if you have been to arlington national cemetery? okay. most of you. if you are not one of those persons who raised her hands i would strongly encourage you in your time remaining here with young america's foundation this week to make it over there and try to spend a couple hours at the tomb of the unknown soldier walking among the headstones of some of america's finest heroes. that truly is a sacred ground and it seems -- if i can borrow from toque field from another setting to be signed by another secret plan of promise to become our national cemetery and in the mid- 15th century that was for jean forrest and farmland and the story of arlington begins in the tidewater region of virginia where president trump visited a few days ago to celebrate 40 years of representative democracy in america. a young woman named martha dandridge from a distinguished family married at the very young age of 18.
into another distinguished family, the custer family and her husband was daniel parke custis. they had four children over the next seven years but unfortunately martha's life would be touched by tragedy again and again. she had two children die in their early years and then widowed when daniel died at the age of 26. family legend has it he died of a broken heart when his second son passed away in his infancy. martha custis was now widowed at age 26 and had to surviving children, a son, jackie and a daughter, patty. she was probably the wealthiest woman at that time in the entire commonwealth of virginia and may have been the wealthiest person given her inheritance not only from her own family but also her dowry interests in daniels wealth, too. she could have done anything
with her life that she wanted but what she ended up doing was marrying a couple years later a young colonel in the virginia infantry who had already distinguished himself in the french and indian war who came to call upon her when he was in williamsburg for political business. that young colonel's name was george washington. when they got married martha dandridge custis became martha washington in george washington adopted jackie and patty as his own. he and martha never had children of their own but george washington had no natural born errors. they do not move the washington family which is across the potomac river, mount vernon. he raised them as his own. throughout the 1760s and 1770s until war called. he went off to command the continental army. martha and by then teenage
jackie and patty were sometimes with him but unfortunately patty passed away as well at the age of 13. she suffered from epilepsy which in those days was something that could claim one life in a moments notice. martha and george were despondent. george soldiered on, leaving our nation to victory in the revolutionary war in 1781 at the battle of yorktown. what was a great time for our nation, winning our independence from the british, was yet another moment of tragedy for george in washington. for george and martha because jackie at the age of 26 passed away from a fever that he contracted at yorktown, as well. martha at age 48 have been predeceased by all four of her children but however, jackie had married just a few years earlier and produced children of his own.
initially he moved to the tidewater region to live on for this family land and raise his family there. after time, he said he was homesick and wanted to be back in northern virginia, back in what was known as alexandria or called arlington and rosslyn so we can because to his beloved mount vernon and be close to george and martha. he decided to use for their family fortune to buy the land that is now arlington national cemetery in fort myers. he also bought what is now ronald reagan national airport, crystal city and did that with the advice of his adoptive father, george washington. the correspondence between the two of them still exists from george washington's time at valley forge and advising his adopted son on the practicality of how to buy that land and not be taken to the cleaners while buying it. so, after we succeeded in
yorktown in the country was celebrating and the washingtons were mourning the loss of their only remaining funds there were four young children, george and martha adopted two of them. one of them was the great president namesake, george washington parke custis known as wash. they raised him as their own and this is the first generation of young custis boys that george washington raised in mount vernon as his own but only fight this time he was no longer colonel washington but general washington. a man who had led our nation in independence and who's truly the greatest living american. after the revolution work you plan to retire at mount vernon, the farm into ranch and live out his life with martha and his adopted grandson and granddaughter. once again, fate intervened and in the 1780s as our young nation struggled for the
articles of confederation with a week central government and the states fought among themselves founding fathers decided we needed a new constitution so they gathered together in 1787 in philadelphia to write our constitution. george washington presided over it. his young adopted grandson, wash, observe this and ratified the constitution in george washington by acclamation became our first president. most of the constitution's provisions about the presidency were written with george washington in mind and the founding fathers seem to have fought -- thought we would get it close enough in george washington would solve the rest for us. his successors will follow and emulate his example. for eight years george washington presided over the nation as our first president and to those eight years was his young grandson, wash at his side. from mount vernon to
philadelphia and back george washington parke custis washed his grandmother, perhaps the greatest man alive in the world for not just having one independence of our great nation but also the comments first president. in 1796 they are returned to mount vernon and george washington died in 1799 and martha died in 18022 mount vernon river back to relative of george washington he had a new home and it just turned 21 which under the laws of the state of virginia at the time when he inherited his father's land. a land that was still burgeoning timber and farmland in river bottoms. wanting to stay near his home he moved to stop the potomac river to what we now call arlington but to give you a sense of that man's connection to our nation into its history he referred to
as mount washington and he, with his young family, moved and began to build that big mansion is he up on the hill that you still see today when you cross memorial bridge between the lincoln memorial in arlington national cemetery. if you been to mount vernon you'll notice that it bears a striking resemblance to the architectural style because wash built that mansion as a public memorial or museum to george washington, long before the washington monument was constructed. in fact, everything about arlington, as it came to be known, a few years later was designed as a public tribute and a mosh to our first president. for most of the 19th century to the civil war ellington was colloquially known as washingtons treasury.
that is because when martha passed away wash along with the sisters inherited in equal parts the family relics and heirlooms and memorabilia but wash spent well beyond his means sending arlington into debt to buy even more, the tent george washington used in the farm instruments washington crafted at mount vernon. not for his own private benefit to display but to put them out for the public and people would come to visit arlington, strangers from across the land and foreigners who would want to know about george washington. to learn more about this great man and they would have festivals on washington's birthday every year to celebrate and public readings of the declaration on our independence day. this is what arlington look like for much of the 19th century. in addition, of course, to being a working farm and ranch, fisheries and so forth.
wash was visited by tragedy in his life as well and lost many children at a young age. he one surviving daughter, mary. in 1829 another young lieutenant from the united states army came to call on mary and that to the same was robert ed. we himself had been from a distinguished virginia family and in fact, his father, recently had been one of washington's great calvary commanders in the revolutionary war. mary and robert seem to have known each other going back to childhood and seem to have reserved their affection for each other throughout their early adulthood as well until late married in 1831. because robert eb's father had lost most of their family inheritance and had done of his own arlington and the arlington house became the home of robert e lee and his wife, mary, and
their seven children. for 30 years arlington was a home much like soldiers today have a home that they return to from their deployment and from there tourism and other station with robert ely was an engineer and one of the top students at west point where he may return to become the commandant and in those years being and is there any spent time constructing fourth place like hampton road or south carolina or new york city. hard to construct reports or other infrastructure in the winters almost every winter they would return to arlington for christmas into the winter robert ely would cross the river and would work at the chief of engineer's office while mary was with her parents and their grandkids at home. that pattern continued for 30 years from 1831-1861. when abraham lincoln was elected south carolina seceded in the other states followed and robert
ely was in texas and recalled to washington dc. by then general in chief of what we would call the chief of staff of the army or even chairman of the joint steve the longest serving general under whom robert eb had served under the mexican american war three years earlier set of robert eb he was the finest soldier he'd ever seen in the field with and when what would break up, when bill scott said take out and insurance policy on the right life of robert eb. the probably knew what was in store when he returned to washington and was summoned across the river in what is now the old executive office building where he met with winfield scott and first he went to what we call clear how many of you probably know playhouse as across from the white house for foreign heads of eight and that was called out because he belong to the blair family and
francis blair was one of abraham lincoln's sharpest political advisers. abraham lincoln asked blair to offer me the command of the union army because blair was a virginia man as well. yet he would state of the union. robert ely now stood at a cusp where only george washington had stood in our nations history being offered command of an army on the verge of a great war that would forge the nation for the future or break a nation for the future but unfortunately we never wavered and set in correspondence what he would do it for came although he did not support the session or believe it was a constitutional right but declined on the spot and said he would resign his commission and prefer not to draw his sword again. he crossed the street to where the trade representatives and told winfield scott that sadly, he made the need greatest state
of your life. he advised him to resign his commission before he received orders under which he would have to resign dishonorably. lee crossed what is now the bridge and went back to what is arlington house today after a long night wrote his letter of resignation and a personal letter to scott. april 22, 1861 left for richmond and never returned. never return to land that had been his own for 32 years. after much importuning by lee, mary custis lee, left arlington as well and for those of you have been to arlington and what we now know as fort meyer, especially, on the hill adjacent to arlington just to north and west you know that the union army would never allow that land to fall into confederate hands because it occupies strategic lands and on the night of
may 24, 1861 the union army crossed the potomac and occupied arlington and held their ground every single day since then. that is not the end of the story of arlington. it became it became the base for the union army in 1864 it became a cemetery as well the cemeteries of the capital region had to make a decision about so many soldiers who had fallen in the line of duty. senior union army leaders look very unfavorably on lee as a traitor to his nation and had hundreds of acres of land just across the river began to enter union soldiers there.
now, they knew the claim the united states government had at arlington was somewhat dubious as a legal matter because they had taken in attack and refusing to take a tax payment from eight meet relative who showed up to pay it. they started to into her soldiers first in the backyard of arlington house. they knew if they had ultimately lost the claim to that land in the legal matter they could hope to claim it as a practical matter. from that point forward arlington built out gradually over the years and that is why the oldest sections and graves are right in the vicinity of arlington house. the war ended in 1865 and people went back to their farms went back to the city but they were rights. the union army about their dubious claim to arlington and lee passed away a few years
after the war never having sought to reclaim the land. mary made an effort to reclaim the land and let's just say that asking the congress to distant or thousands of union army remains on behalf of a trader's widow was not seen as popular. she passed away in 1673 and it felt to their first born son without continue on the claim notice custis lee but as a reminder of the deep roots of our nation at that land and also of the tragedy of the civil war in his full name, robert e lee's firstborn son was george washington custis lee. he filed a lawsuit in the district court down in alexandria asking to evict the military commander at the base
they are to evict the superintendent of the cemetery and ultimately to infect all the souls at present there. that lawsuit wound its way through the courts until ultimately in 1882 in the united states the supreme court ruled with the family of robert e lee. they ruled that in fact the united government had taken that land without due process and without just compensation of law and the title reverted back to custis lee. this posed a dilemma because custis lee now had title to that land where thousands and thousands of union soldiers had been into it. that had already become seen as sacred ground by our fellow citizens. hundreds of troops remain there and custis had the right to evict them all but he said he
had no intent to do so but simply wanted to vindicate his family's claim and to receive their just compensation for the splint. over a series of weeks and early 1883 there were negotiations between the u.s. government and his attorneys and ultimately they settled on the price of $150,000. transfer the title clear of any cloud from the lee family back to the united states government. so, custis lee signed on the dotted line and transmitted it to the department of war and the person who accepted that deed and in his official capacity for the united states government as secretary of war was robert todd lincoln the first born son of abraham lincoln. which, i think, serves as an important reminder to us today that although we live in politically divided times and
although it often seems in washington the people are at each other's throats there are times in our past which we have been even more divided and yet 18 years after that most divisive time in our country's history went over 600,000 americans through arms against each other and died on a field of battle the firstborn son of the great president and his rebel antagonist could act in concert to establish our national cemetery which is truly sacred ground. now, cemetery continued to grow and expand and is lived just like our nation is lived over the last 20 years confederate veterans were ultimately accepted for interment at arlington national cemetery and became famous throughout the world in 1963 when president john f. kennedy was interred there and it's the home of three
unknown soldiers who come to stand for every american that has laid down his life in the line of duty. today there are over 400 thousand souls addressed in our arlington national cemetery if you go there this afternoon or walk there tomorrow you will see many of them and probably the best way to take it in is when you are flying in or out of reagan national airport. the next time you do that i encourage you to take a look out the window and look out the window to the east first and look to the east and look down and you will see giant monuments and giant men. men who helped found the nation and helped save the nation. in george washington. thomas jefferson, abe lincoln, it's all proper that we have
those monuments to those men. we look to the western side and there you will see arlington. all 624 acres more than 230,000 gray site and the tomb of the unknown soldier in the amphitheater and arlington house and some of the largest memorials there and you will see tiny monuments to giants men and giant women. if it wasn't for all of those men and women who we honor at arlington national cemetery what those giant men honored to the east, washington and lincoln accomplished, would have been impossible. at this stage in your life and in this age you don't know what the future has for you. many of you will have great opportunities and all of you
will face challenges, except that. you don't know what the conditions will be on the path of your life but you do know this. that you can make a difference for your family and your community and for your nation and the world. maybe one day they will build giant monuments to you but even if they don't you can still make the kind of difference that every person in arlington who has one of those small marble monuments to them made for their fellow citizens and for our nation and our world. thank you all, god bless you. god bless united states of america. [applause]
[applause] now we have some microphone set up at least on one side of the room and we had time for a couple or three easy questions when we get to the hard questions i will probably leave you can go on to debate among yourselves. >> thank you. william asher boston answer bursary as someone who's lived two blocks up the road from the iwo jima memorial thank you for that history lesson on arlington. my question is are you optimistic at all that the current round of negotiations with margaret will end any different in the party talks? >> the current round of negotiations as i was a an optimistic way of putting it president and secretary pompeo have made it plain that they want to continue the negotiations but right now there does not seem to be a return address in pyongyang and i don't
think there's been much if any product made since the impromptu meeting with kim jung-un at the dmv last month and we will say the status quo is largely the main the same as the president's first summit with kim jung-un and i commend him for trying to get to a peaceful settlement but to denuclearize the korean peninsula and i further commend him for walking away from the hanoi summit went to made unreasonable demands upon that united states, much like ronald reagan watched from the range evict some of it when gorbachev made unreasonable demands. giving no corner at all on our sanctions or diplomatic posture and it's good to talk but we should not take a step backwards and give everything or even most of everything to kim jung-un is demanding a return for easily reversible steps that he has
taken. until they sit back down at the negotiating table with secretary pompeo and the secretary's team it is hard to see what the path forward will be. >> thank you. >> the morning, senator. i was wondering if you could briefly discuss the importance that military service plays in maintaining a strong social fabric of america. >> sure. first off i will say if you're not thinking about joining the military you should be thinking about. especially the army. the army is the best. for all of those of you who are talking about joining the air force and maybe the marines [inaudible] i'm partial to the army but seriously at your age if you're not thinking about our armed forces you should be thinking about it. other people will go back to
fancy jobs with big investment banks or law firms and what you will learn with two-four years with our military will put you in better stead for the rest of your life whether you go back to school or go to work or be in elected office, there is nothing you can do over the next two-four years of your life that will better prepare you for the next steps in your life serving in our military what you learn as a young soldier, sailor, airman or marie marine and eight life or death situations and sometimes billions of dollars of hardware on the line serving your country and swerving its flag cannot be learned of the best committees or schools of america but when you're done with that service into-four years you can learn what all your fears have been learning
working in an office. they cannot go back and learn what you did and cannot go back and learn the respect of their fellow citizens the way you did. i would take not joining the military, you should think about it and i hope one of you come to me years later and say i served. i promise you you will thank me for it and there will be plenty of times when you're in the military and cursing for it as well. but you will thank me for it in the end military service especially over the last hundred years or so and maybe the last 75 years has been an important part of our social fabric in this country. many of you are touched by service yourself and many may be in service already or the national guard reserve while your student and many might have older brothers or sisters who have served and it's a very strong common bond behalf. the standing of the military if you look at public opinion surveys has never been higher than it is right now certainly much higher than was sadly during the vietnam war era. that's not always been the case
in our country's history but one reason are the old guard is the old guard and the oldest infantry regiment in the army is we do not have a we think of as a modern standing army in this country until after world war ii. we had a history of significant ramp ups for major complex like the war of 1812 or mexico or civil war and that was in large part because of founding dna of this country to be hostile to large standing armies which our founding fathers thought it contributed to the violent wars of religion in 17, 18 century in europe and had to endure the british army being quartered among them in the colonial period. the last 75 years have been a historic anomaly for our country. as we've had that large standing army especially after world war ii korea with so many people
have participated in it it's one reason why military service was at a peak in the congress, 20, 30 years ago with world war ii and korean war generation been declining and rebounding and will continue to rebound as the 911 generation gets into 40s and 50s in this country does not need a draft given the size of our country and given the geopolitical situation we face in a giant country with two oceans between us and our adversaries. some duty drafts given its small size. i don't advocate for return to compulsorily literary service but i do advocate for every one of you and everyone your age to carefully and thoughtfully consider voluntary military service. >> not much better to do at this stage in your life.
[applause] >> hello, my name is [inaudible] from boston university. my grandfather immigrated to the states and served in the old guard in 51 and whenever we had a super bowl party and everyone would be sitting during the national anthem he looked at me in broken english and told me to stand. there's a lot of respect in our generation for america and its servicemen and women and what steps can we take to help the american people begin at? >> thank you for your father-in-law or grandfather service. great american success story summary people like that have immigrated to this country and wore the uniform and in imperfect times to be sure. army has been segregated and order or two. one of those great americans buried at arlington national service is joe lewis, the famous
boxer, just down the hill from tomb of the unknown soldier. he volunteered for the army was not wrapped up in one of his friends asked him why he was joining a segregated army. why did you join a segregated army to fight and an army that will recognize you as equal? joe lewis said a nothing wrong with america that adolf hitler will solve. but it is that kind of attitude and that perspective on america that for all of our imperfections we are still the greatest nation in the world the greatest nation in human history that we need to teach young people in america today. i would disagree with one premise there that people your age don't have respect as much respect for people who wear the uniform and that is not my experience when i wore the uniform or what i see now but as much was teaching them to respect the men and women in uniform we need to teach them why they should respect that uniform.
why they should respect that flag and that is the reason they should do so is that they are fighting for a nation that is just, noble and free and a nation that is founded by reflection and choice in the founding generation on a certain timeless principles that men are created equal and that we are equal in the eyes of god. and that we have the right to control the government and not to have the government control us and to chart our own path and set our own course at life. it's those principles for which we are fighting that i think too many young people don't get taught in today's schools in today's colleges. that's one reason i'm happy to come speak to young americans because not trying to make sure that you supply the curricular time in college with the extracurricular time for college. thank you all for what you do. [applause]
>> thank you for university of washington. i was out your service in the military in the old guard changed your views specifically or your views on life. >> well trust me the army teach you a lot of important life lessons. and one thing i will teach you as to how to overcome adversity. if you think you've based challenges in life before you join the army, trust me, your face a lot more than that first day when the drill sergeant gets you off the bus at basic training up to and including the first time you're in a firefight overseas. i would say a lot of my views were formed before i joined the army or growing up on that farm in arkansas or formed in college and learning about the timeless, eternal principles of which our nation was founded.
some people say your national security talk and you believe in a strong defense because you joined the army. i tell them that's close to correct but that's the exact opposite. i joined the army because i believe in america and i believe america must be strong. only the strong have the ability to be merciful and protective of others. i have those lessons reinforced when i was in the army but a lot of those lessons i learned growing up on that farm and learning about the history and the underpinnings of our nation. [applause] >> thank you all again for letting me come speak to you but thank you for all who are here who woke up early to come listen and tell your friends who are still sleeping what they missed and have a great rest of your week here in washington dc.