McCain speaks honors centennial anniversary on Senate floor - CBS 5 - KPHO

McCain speaks honors centennial anniversary on Senate floor

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WASHINGTON (CBS5) -

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was in Washington Tuesday and honored the centennial anniversary of Arizona's statehood on the Senate floor.

He made the following statement:

Mr. President, it is my distinct privilege to speak in honor of the centennial anniversary of Arizona's statehood. One hundred years ago, on February 14, 1912, the State of Arizona was officially admitted to the Union effectively completing the contiguous lower 48 states.

Americans today recognize Arizona as the thriving center of the Sun Belt, known for its ability to attract businesses, manufacturing, and tourists from around the world. The 'Valley of the Sun' alone supports about four million people and our state capital, Phoenix, is the nation's sixth largest city. Compared to its humble beginnings, Arizona has enjoyed tremendous growth and productivity. But this wasn't always so.

Arizona's history began over 10,000 years ago with migration of early Native American tribes to the region. For centuries the Anasazi, Hohokam, and Mogollon peoples flourished in the forested highlands and Sonoran Desert lowlands. Many of the Indian tribes in Arizona today are the proud decedents of these ancient peoples. It wasn't until 1528 with the arrival of Spanish missionaries and conquistadors in the towns of Tubac and Tucson that the land and people were first reshaped. Spanish colonization eventually gave way to Mexican independence in 1821, and in 1848, the Mexican-American war concluded with Mexico ceding much of Arizona to the United States. In 1853, President Franklin Pierce saw an opportunity to build a transcontinental railroad connecting the South to southern California and purchased the remaining bottom half of the Arizona Territory from Mexico for $10 million, what today would be the equivalent of $244 million.

It was around this time that American pioneers began to settle the towns of Prescott, Flagstaff, picturesque Sedona, and Yuma, the gateway to gold-rich California. During the Civil War, Arizona became a short-lived strategic interest to the Confederacy. The War's westernmost battle was fought in Arizona at Picacho Peak about 50 miles north of Tucson (it reportedly lasted 90 minutes and involved about 25 soldiers). In the years that followed, cattlemen and mining speculators flocked to develop Arizona's natural resources in the towns like Tombstone, Bisbee, Show Low and St. John's. The boundaries of the state soon began to take shape thanks to explorers like John Wesley Powell, whose famous three-month expedition down the mighty Colorado River charted the first known passage through the Grand Canyon.

Efforts in Congress to pass statehood began around the turn of the twentieth century. One proposal sought to combine the territories of Arizona and New Mexico into one massive state. But Arizona settlers would have none of it and its unlikely the people of New Mexico were all too excited about the plan either. At the time, many outsiders didn't fully appreciate Arizona's untapped potential. They considered it nothing more than a desert wasteland, economically desolate and virtually uninhabitable. One of Arizona's first territorial representatives, Henry Ashurst, is known to have risen in Congress to argue, 'All that Arizona needs to flourish is good people and water.' To which an east coast Member supposedly retorted, 'You could say the same about hell.'

Arizonans eventually succeeded in convincing Congress to grant statehood. This was partly due to the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in 1903 as part of the Salt River Project in Phoenix, one the nation's first federal reclamation projects. The Roosevelt Dam channeled life-giving water from the Salt River into a series of irrigation canals that overlay a canal network dug by the Hohokam Indians more than a thousand years prior. Fueled by irrigation water and hydro-electric power, the small community of Phoenix - which started as a cavalry hay camp at Fort McDowell - began its rise to national prominence.

Mr. President, my predecessor in the United States Senate, the late Senator Barry Goldwater, is among Arizona's most celebrated statesmen having served five terms in this body. He was born in Phoenix when Arizona was still a Territory and witnessed remarkable changes to the Grand Canyon State throughout his lifetime. The Smithsonian Magazine recently re-published an op-ed Goldwater wrote in 1962 called 'Arizona's Next Fifty Years' where he imagines what Arizona would look like by 2012. Keep in mind that Arizona had barely one million people living across the entire state in the 1960s. Modern air conditioning technology was relatively new, and the 1,500 miles of Interstate crisscrossing the State today was still on the drawing boards. Yet Goldwater correctly predicted our rapid population growth comparing Phoenix to other major U.S. cities. I'd like to share some of his predictions with you. He wrote:

'It will be the deserts that will support the majority of the new homes. Phoenix will have a population of about three million and Tucson will grow to about one and one-half million. Phoenix and Tucson will remain the two largest cities in the state, with Phoenix being either the fourth or sixth largest city in the United States. The growth of Glendale, Peoria and Avondale will parallel that of Phoenix proper, so that 50 years from now all of these cities will be contiguous with each other and with Phoenix, and will form a city complex not unlike the present city of Los Angeles.'

Mr. President, anyone who's flown into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport can see from the sky - day or night - the infinite grid-like layout of the Metro Phoenix area. Senator Goldwater understood that this kind of development would fundamentally alter how Arizonans relate to the desert, writing:

'The man of 2012 would not be able to walk from his doorstep into this pastel paradise with its saguaro, the mesquite, the leap of a jackrabbit… or the smell of freshly wet greasewood, because people will have transgressed on the desert for home site to accommodate a population of slightly over 10 million people. The forests will be protected, as well as our parks and monuments. But even they will have as neighbors the people who today enjoy hardships to visit them.'

Despite the challenges of increased demand on our natural resources, Senator Goldwater correctly believed that the state would mature into a modern, industrious economy with global connections:

'Arizona's principal economic growth will be in the industrial field, with emphasis being on items of a technological nature. It will not be many years before industry will become an important part of the economies of most Arizona cities, whereas today it is more or less confined to a few. Arizona will continue to be the haven for people who seek an outlet for initiative and a reward for work. The frontier challenges will exist then as they do today, for man's progress never stops unless man stops it. Fortunately for our state, our men have always and will always want to go forward, not backward.'

So what is Arizona today?

Arizona's open skies and fair climate offer the U.S. military an ideal training environment for our soldiers and high-tech combat systems. Luke Air Force Base outside of Phoenix will be home to the F-35 fighter jet, the most advanced fighter in the world. The U.S. Army's Intelligence Center is located at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, where UAV training serves a unique and irreplaceable national security mission. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson is the nation's premiere A-10 Warthog base, hosts an array of special operations aircraft, and will hopefully continue to grow in support of our military's drone fleet. Across the highway, Arizonans in the Air National Guard fly the newest F-16s to train foreign pilots from over 20 countries. And virtually every Marine Corps fixed wing squadron that participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm underwent pre-deployment training at Yuma Marine Air Corps Station.

Arizona is also home to nearly 600,000 veterans, many of whom have returned to their families and loved ones from Iraq and Afghanistan.

More copper is mined in Arizona than all the other states combined, and the Morenci Mine is the largest copper producer in all of North America.

Two of the country's largest manmade lakes are in Arizona: Lake Powell and Lake Mead (the result of Hoover Dam), which supplies drinking water to over 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Yuma, Arizona, an agriculture powerhouse, produces about 90 percent of the country's winter vegetables. The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona.

We operate the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, located about 55 miles west of Phoenix, which generates more electricity than any other power plant in the nation.

It is home to three major state universities: Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, with an undergraduate and graduate population of over 130,000.

Arizona is a leader in manufacturing information, medical, and defense technologies. We are headquarters to TGen (the Translational Genomic Research Institute), which conducts cutting edge genetic research with the goal of curing Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's and numerous forms of cancer.

We support critical scientific endeavors to discover our place in the universe: Arizona's unique landscapes, like Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert, once played a key role in the NASA Apollo training missions. The world's largest solar telescope is located at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Sells, Arizona. The University of Arizona is actively involved in the Cassini, Mars Lander, and Mars Rover missions as well as NASA's Osiris-Rex mission, which will be the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid and return a sample to Earth.

It's also believed that the Chimichunga has its origins in Arizona, although its exact hometown is still a matter of vigorous historical debate among locals.

Mr. President, I'm immensely proud of Arizona's rich history, and I am humbled to represent a state that has earned a special place in the American consciousness. Even when I travel overseas, it's seldom that I meet an individual who doesn't know where the Grand Canyon is, or isn't captivated by the tales of the Old West, or doesn't admire the rugged individualism of Arizona's frontiersmen. I can't presume to exercise the kind of predictive abilities that Senator Goldwater displayed in his article. All I can say is that Arizona's future is perhaps best prophesized by reflecting on our legacy - judging our achievements against our intrepid beginnings. For as long as Arizona stays true to the pioneer spirit, I believe her best days are yet to come.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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