Kissell calls for national day to celebrate Elvis Pressley

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 03:16 PM

I’ve often written here about our need to find points of agreement, even small or seemingly trivial ones, so that we can communicate across the aisle and open the door to discussions about the big challenges our nation faces.  I introduced a bill this week intended to do just that.  I was asked by someone recently why, when America’s biggest export is our culture, do we not do more to celebrate that culture as a society.  This person pointed out that we see culture hyped and the celebrity of culture honored, but the actual contributions of culture and art are often trivialized.
 
Anyone who has followed my career knows how seriously I take our efforts to export all American products to the world at large, and how committed I am to doing more to protect our products from unfair competition.  This person suggested that much of our success in exporting our culture and making all things American more readily acceptable around the world can be traced to none other than the late Elvis Presley and the cultural changes in our nation represented by the man, his generation and his music.
I knew that Elvis had served our country honorably in the US Army and had helped the less fortunate through generous contributions and was very successful, but I asked my staff to research his contributions further and was surprised to find so many of the following facts: Elvis Presley performed the first worldwide television broadcast, Aloha from Hawaii, which was seen by more than a billion people;  according to the National Archives, the most requested item from the Archives is a photograph of Elvis Presley shaking hands with President Nixon during a visit to the White House; his home, Graceland welcomes more than 600,000 visitors each year from around the world and is the most visited home in America after the White House, and in 2006, Interior Secretary Gail Norton designated his home as a National Historic Landmark; and in 1993, the United States Postal Service issued a first class stamp featuring an image of Elvis Presley which became the most popular stamp in United States history.
 
We have many Elvis fans in our district, and on their behalf I have introduced a resolution to express the sense of Congress that Elvis’ birthday, January 8, should be celebrated.  This legislation costs no money to taxpayers and doesn’t require a day off for the Federal government, but it does celebrate perhaps our first real worldwide cultural icon whose legacy continues to help us export our culture internationally.
 
I believe our government can do more than one thing at a time, and that as we continue to try to find a resolution to our budget woes and get our fiscal house in order, we can also find common ground on a simple bill like this one.  I’m proud we already have bipartisan support, and that this may be one of those small things we can find agreement on that will lead us to open the conversation on the big things—like our nation’s future.
 
Americans have always sought inspiration and unity in our shared cultural assets. New York hosted a World Series in 2001 even as Ground Zero still smoldered. Mardi Gras parades rolled and bands marched and played even as the rubble left by Hurricane Katrina lined some of the streets of New Orleans. Presidents of both parties have hosted concerts and performances and celebrated championship sports teams in the White House during times of severe economic hardship and war. I hope that maybe by pausing for a few minutes to celebrate the heritage and influence of one of the American south's most successful and enduring exports, Elvis Presley, my colleagues in Congress will acknowledge briefly that we have more in common than we have at odds. In my opinion, anything that brings that about is worth trying to do.
I’m very concerned about where the current conversations are on the budget deal.  The latest reports out of the negotiations as I write this are that the cuts to spending seem to be falling on those who are least to blame for all of this and those least able to afford it—our elderly.  Reports this morning are that the current spending cuts are to be $400 billion from Medicare.  I know we all have to give on all sides, but there is so much duplication and waste in our government that there are countless things we should cut before we ask our Seniors to make the sacrifice.  I voted against putting us in the position in the first place.  I believe Sequestration is dangerous, and was just one more instance of kicking the can down the road.  Well, we’re near the end of that road, and all proposed cuts seem to either be aimed at our military or our elderly.  I’d wager these cuts are proposed because there are Representatives like me who will not let our Seniors or our fighting men and women take the brunt of the bad decisions of politicians, and this is just one more effort to kick that can.  We have to do what our states do.
We need to keep our commitment to those who serve our country, those who are veterans and our seniors. We need to do what makes sense.  We need an old fashioned zero-based budget where we go from top to bottom through our government, make every program and department justify how much money it needs, and show how it is not wasteful or redundant of other programs.  Only then will we get our fiscal house in order.