Testimony of Francis Gary Powers, Jr.
My name is Francis Gary Powers, Jr. from Fairfax, Virginia, and I'm the founder of The Cold War Museum. I'm pleased to have this special opportunity to testify before this subcommittee today. I'd like to express my gratitude to Congressman Hefley for inviting me here and for sponsoring a bill so significant to our country.
This bill means much to me personally. As the son of a famous Cold War figure, I grew up with the Cold War. The Cold War Museum began for me as a way to honor my father, but it soon took on a much greater life and purpose. I am working toward a museum that will honor all the men and women who worked for democracy and freedom during the Cold War. The Museum is not about reviving old hatreds, rather it's about promoting lessons learned. It's about teaching democracy and the pursuit of world peace. The Cold War Museum will dedicate resources to commemorating those whose deeds and sacrifices furthered democracy, but the Museum strives for an international and objective understanding of the Cold War - one of the most intense
The purposes of the Cold War Museum are:
The Museum's distinguished board of directors are experts in museum management, nonprofit management, and various aspects of Cold War history. We also have an Advisory Board, which includes Sergei Khrushchev, (son of Nikita Khrushchev), former Eisenhower aide Ambassador Vernon Walters, and renowned photographic interpreter Dino Brugioni.
Recently, the Cold War Museum developed a list of important Cold War sites, (a focal point of your bill), with the eventual goal of recognizing a Cold War site in every state. (I have included a list of Cold War sites in my collateral material for your review.)
The museum doesn't have a permanent home, but we sponsor traveling exhibits that have been displayed throughout the U.S. (including CIA headquarters in Virginia), and in Norway, Germany and Russia.
America has honored men and women from many wars who died for freedom, but whatever the reason, there has been almost no recognition of the Cold War, an era that lasted almost 50 years, cost thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, changed the course of history, and left America the only superpower in the world. However, the Cold War is virtually unknown to the current generation. This is a great disservice to all those who gave their lives during the Cold War.
James Billlington, Librarian of Congress, said in a foreign policy speech, "The Cold War was the central conflict of the second half of the 20th century, the longest and most unconventional war of the entire modern era and an unprecedented experience for Americans. We were faced for the first time in our history with an opponent who was both ideologically committed to overthrow our system and was equipped to destroy us physically."
Journalist Charles Krauthammer, in an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, entitled "Build a Cold War Memorial," had this to say:
"The Cold War did not have the dramatic intensity of World War II, but it was just as real and just as dangerous. Though often clandestine and subtle, it ranged worldwide, cost many lives, evoked much heroism and lasted what seemed like forever. Considering the stakes, the scope and the suffering, this was a struggle that deserves commemoration."
Although the Cold War periodically resurfaces in the news, as is evident by the Hansen spy case, many people really don't understand the background and the history. The Cold War Museum's website testifies to the public's need for information. Over the past 23 months, 250,000 people have visited the museum's website, www.coldwar.org. Those who have tested their knowledge on our Cold War trivia and history quizzes have helped make the case for passage of HR 107. Ten percent of the respondents believe John F. Kennedy was President of the United States when the Soviet Union was dissolved. The need for the passage of HR 107, the construction of a Cold War Museum, and related educational programs is clear.
Charles Krauthammer said this about a proposed Cold War Monument, "It needn't be grandiose, but it must have a small museum for instruction. A gallery of heroes: Truman, Marshall, Churchill, Reagan. A hall for the fallen: the secret agents who died anonymously. A tribute to allies and friends.and a gulag display, so our children will learn the nature of evil."
We would like to suggest that the Department of the Interior conduct a study to establish the value of a permanent Cold War Museum as the central repository for Cold War artifacts and information.
Our plans include the following:
(Congressman Hefley, we believe it is vital to begin now to preserve these historic resources; records are being lost and sites fall prey to developers every day.)
I am proud to say that the Cold War Museum has already become an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. They have agreed to conduct a feasibility study to determine which artifacts from their national collection could be used in Cold War Museum exhibits and displays. We have also received offers of support from a variety of sources including the Holocaust Museum, Voice of America, and the embassies of Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Estonia.
In the coming weeks and months, Congress will consider a number of issues. H.R.107 should certainly be included in its agenda to preserve American history and significant historical sites.
We believe the interest and support of James Billington, Charles Krauthammer, the Smithsonian Institution, the Voice of America, the Holocaust Museum, and various embassies and schools are obvious proof that this bill and the Cold War Museum would be of considerable value to our country.
Congressman Hefley, the directors of the Cold War Museum and I would like to express our strongest possible support for your bill. HR 107 will help to educate students, honor Cold War Veterans and preserve Cold War history.
The mission and goals of the Cold War Museum further the objectives of HR 107. We hope to continue to be involved with helping you and this Commission when it is established. Please feel free to call upon us at any time.
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