[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 132 (Tuesday, September 20, 1994)]
[Senate]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]


[Congressional Record: September 20, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

 
    DEDICATION OF THE JOHN J. SPARKMAN CENTER FOR MISSILE EXCELLENCE

  Mr. HEFLIN. Madam President, the John J. Sparkman Center for Missile 
Excellence at Redstone Arsenal was formally dedicated on August 22. The 
Sparkman Center consolidates and houses the missile command that 
manages the missile material mission for the Army, as well as other 
functions located at Redstone. I was deeply gratified to see this 
complex completed and functional, not only for what it means to our 
national security, the U.S. Army, and the State of Alabama's future, 
but because of the fitting honor it bestows upon the memory of the late 
Senator John J. Sparkman.
  Huntsville was, of course, John Sparkman's home, and he would be very 
proud of the way his city continues to grow and lead the Nation in 
advanced technology innovation and research. Throughout his more than 
42 years in Congress, he was the driving force in making Huntsville the 
leading research and scientific center that it has become. The fact 
that Redstone Arsenal and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center are 
located there is due in large part to his strong leadership. Indeed, he 
did so very much for this vibrant city in so many ways.
  John Sparkman was born in 1899, in an unpretentious tenant farm home 
near Hartselle. One of 11 children, he learned the traditional American 
values of hard work, religious faith, and eagerness to learn at a young 
age. He used the proceeds from the sale of a cotton crop he had grown 
himself to enroll at the University of Alabama, where he planned to 
study to be a schoolteacher.

  While earning his bachelor, master, and law degrees, John Sparkman 
was awarded a teaching fellowship in history and political science, 
served as editor of the student newspaper, and was elected president of 
the student government.
  In 1936, after practicing law in Huntsville for a number of years, 
John Sparkman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. During 
his five terms in the House, he served on the Military Affairs 
Committee, which was particularly crucial during World War II and to 
the development of Redstone Arsenal. In his last term, he served as 
majority whip.
  In 1946, Congressman Sparkman was confronted with a rather unique 
situation. After he easily received the Democratic nomination for an 
expected sixth term in the House, the death of Senator John Bankhead, 
Jr., created a vacancy in the Senate. John decided to seek that vacant 
seat, and won the primary vote over two formidable opponents without a 
runoff. In the general election, his name appeared as the Democratic 
candidate for both the senate and House seats. I know of no other 
American political figure who has been elected to the Senate and the 
House on the same day and the same ballot.
  In his early days in the Senate, one of John Sparkman's primary 
legislative interests was the Nation's small businesses. As the first 
chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Small Business, and the 
chief sponsor of the legislation creating the Small Business 
Administration, Senator Sparkman helped to establish an economic 
climate favorable to small businesses.
  In his last term, Senator Sparkman assumed the role of chairman of 
the Committee on Foreign Relations. As chairman, he worked to alleviate 
the major health problems of the world. Earlier, as a committee member, 
he had been a key leader in the establishment of both NATO and of the 
Marshall plan. In 1950, he was the U.S. representative to the Fifth 
General Assembly of the United Nations. He strongly advocated 
bipartisan cooperation in the foreign affairs.
  Additionally, he was instrumental in the passage of laws dealing with 
education, crop insurance, veterans' benefits, and the Tennessee Valley 
Authority. He once said that of all his accomplishments, he was most 
proud of his work to pass the Rural Electrification Act, which carried 
electric lights and other electrical uses to the outlying rural areas 
of the country and brought progress to every corner of the land. He 
also served as cochairman of the Joint Defense Production Committee for 
several Congresses.

  Long before his seniority won him the chairmanship of the Committee 
on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, he had become known as ``Mr. 
Housing.'' He believed that homeownership should be the attainable goal 
of every American family, and that the Federal Government should 
foster, encourage, and assist them in reaching this goal. He was the 
primary craftsman of almost all public housing legislation, beginning 
with the Housing Act of 1949, which began the Nation's Urban Renewal 
Program.
  The millions of homes built under Federal Housing Programs were built 
largely because of Senator Sparkman's leadership, dedication, and 
commitment, and stand as a fitting and proper tribute to his work. The 
Sparkman Center is a welcome addition to his housing legacy, as it will 
house one of the army's most important functions.
  During the 1950's and 1960's, one of the major issues that, of 
course, confronted Senator Sparkman was civil rights. In 1948, the 
Democratic Party in Alabama came under the control of the Dixiecrats 
and split from the national party. John Sparkman refused to go along. 
Not only did he keep his allegiance to the national party, he also 
successfully fought the Dixiecrats for control of the State party 
thereafter for a number of years. Throughout the civil rights struggle, 
John Sparkman was a southerner who was recognized as being a voice of 
reason, progress, and moderation.
  In 1952, yet another testimonial to his outstanding abilities was 
paid when the Democratic National Convention selected him as its Vice 
Presidential nominee. Unfortunately, the Stevenson-Sparkman ticket was 
up against a man who was perhaps the most formidable adversary possible 
at that time--Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. The defeat he suffered that year 
would be the only electoral loss John Sparkman ever experienced, as he 
went on to four more successful Senate races.
  Many of my present colleagues in the Senate who served with him 
remember John Sparkman as a leader who stood for and supported enhanced 
educational and professional training opportunities for all citizens. 
It is entirely fitting that this new complex at Redstone is named for 
him. Such a dynamic, living memorial is the only kind appropriate for a 
man whose most basic instincts resonated with a vigorous orientation 
toward the promise of the future.
  In many ways, John Sparkman's life and career demonstrated both the 
opportunity which America provides and the progress we as a Nation made 
during the more than 85 years that he lived. He served in Congress 
longer than any other Alabamian--through the Great Depression, World 
War II, the Korean conflict, the war in Vietnam, the social discord of 
the civil rights struggle--much of which was centered in his home 
State--and the resignation of a President. We can all learn something 
from reflecting upon his life and times.
  I am proud and excited that this living memorial to a great Alabamian 
and American--the John J. Sparkman Center for Missile Excellence--has 
now become a reality. The center will prove instrumental in guiding our 
national security, the U.S. Army, and Huntsville into the next century, 
and will live on as a testament to the life and work of one of our most 
outstanding public servants.

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