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PROCEEDINGS ON THE OCCASION OF THE UNVEILING OF THE PORTRAIT OF HON. CARL VINSON, CHAIRMAN, NAVAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 1944
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C., Thursday, January 20, 1944. The committee met at 10:30 o'clock a. m., the Honorable William E. Hess presiding.
Mr. Hess. The committee will come to order, please.
Distinguished guests, my colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: I feel extremely honored in having been delegated to preside today at thi ceremony, honoring the distinguished chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, the Honorable Carl Vinson, of Georgia.
We who have known him over a period of years and have had the privilege of serving with him on this great committee, have learned to love him.
His has been a busy committee, but through his untiring efforts, his fairness and impartiality, and his unswerving devotion to the Navy, he has guided through the Congress a multitude of measures which have resulted in making our Navy the most powerful in the history of the world.
Mr. Vinson's leadership has proven beyond question that a democracy can work effectively and efficiently in a crisis such as the one through which we have been passing. He has the respect and admiration of every Member of the House of Representatives, regardless of party affiliation, and is looked upon by the Members as an authority on matters pertaining to the Navy.
Chairman Vinson's colleagues on his committee, together with some of his many friends, arranged with an artist of renown to paint from life his portrait, which will be presented this morning.
A number of telegrams and letters have been received, but time will not permit the reading of all of them. I will, however, read one at this time. It is from the White House, Washington, D. C., dated January 20, 1944:
MY DEAR Carl: You have performed many services for our country during your long and successful tenure of office in the House, but I have always felt that your unselfish devotion to the Naval Affairs Committee has been your greatest.
In your 27 years of service on that committee you have constantly endeavored to strengthen American sea power. Today, you have your desire. We have the strongest Navy in the world.
You have made many friends for the Navy. No man has more friends in the Navy than yourself.
Very sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.
(Applause.) I wish to present to you a member of the Naval Affairs Committee who will make the presentation of the portrait, the Honorable W. Sterling Cole, of New York.
* 94266-44-No. 171
STATEMENT OF HON. W. STERLING COLE, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, distinguished guests, it is an unusual occasion in the annals of the Naval Affairs Committee which brings us together today for a meeting attended by such notables of Government as are gathered here at this moment. Our deliberations are not directed to the construction of ships of varying types, airplanes of all sorts and quantities, bases and outposts throughout the world, nor to the complicated structure and requirements of Navy personnel. All that work has been completed and the naval construction program has already passed its zenith. Rather we are met today for the sole purpose of paying honor to one of our number who, beginning as a committee member in the other World War, has contributed more to the development and expansion of the American Navy over the past quarter century than any other individual in the Nation during that period of time.
Three decades ago a young man, then at 30 years of age, but who had already filled offices of public trust, including that of prosecuting attorney, member of the State assembly and speaker, and county judge, was elected by the people of the Tenth Congressional District of the State of Georgia to represent them in the House of Representatives.
During his second term in Congress this young man was assigned to membership on the House Committee on Naval Affairs, a post which he has continuously held from that date in 1917 until the present time. When his party obtained control of the House of Representatives, he became chairman of the committee, and has served as such since 1931-a record not equaled either as to tenure on the committee or as to length of service as chairman by any other person in all our history. It has been under his guidance that all naval legislation of the present war has been enacted; in fact, 10 years ago, he began a program of automatic naval construction which, when Pearl Harbor came, found us much better prepared than we otherwise would have been.
Although when first elected he had no thought of remaining in the Congress for any length of time, two forces united to cause him to be continuously returned to the Congress by his constituency, which later became, and now is, the Sixth District of Georgia. An early interest in his work and principally in matters pertaining to the Navy was coupled with a quick realization by his constituency of the worth and quality of the man they had chosen to represent them, and the honor which we today bestow upon this man must necessarily be shared by his own people for their confidence and trust in him and their loyalty to him.
To signalize this remarkable record of achievement and to serve as an inspiration to those who will follow us, the members of his committee have joined with other admirers of their distinguished chairman to present to the Naval Affairs Committee of this and future years his portrait, as a permanent monument both to his great record and to the constant loyalty of his people. This portrait depicts something more than the likeness of our honored chairman. In addition, it suggests the span of America's nautical history which he helped to shape in a very valuable contributory capacity.
In the distant background may be seen the three-stack, coal-burning battleship, the U. S. S. Georgia, now long since decommissioned and junked, but withal the pride of the United States Navy when this young man first came to Congress. In the foreground is a model of the most modern aircraft carrier. Here, forever, is shown the Navy of a generation past and the Navy of today, and standing between the glory of yesterday's Navy and the splendor of the Navy of today is our honored chairman, who has served on this committee during two periods of great national peril and whose influence has had a profound effect upon our Nation's naval history.
In behaif of those who have made this portrait and this occasion possible, it is my high privilege to present to this committee the likeness in oil of our good friend, our distinguished chairman, that genuine American and statesman, the Honorable Carl Vinson, Representative from the State of Georgia. [Applause.] Mr. Hess. Thank you, Mr. Cole. At this time I am privileged to present another member of the Naval Affairs Committee, the Honorable Margaret C. Smith, who will unveil the portrait. Mrs. Smith unveiled the portrait.] [Applause.] Mr. Hess. Thank you, Mrs. Smith. I now wish to present to you the young artist who painted the portrait, now an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve, Mr. Lawrence A. Powers.
STATEMENT OF ENSIGN LAWRENCE A. POWERS, UNITED STATES
Mr. Powers. I feel highly honored to be permitted this opportunity to express my deep personal satisfaction at having been selected to paint the portrait of the Honorable Mr. Vinson, not only because of the personality of the subject himself but because, as a naval officer, I am aware of how fully deserved is the gratitude of the entire Nation to a man who has been in large part responsible for the maintenance of the Navy through the lean years, the planning for the future, and the great triumphs of the present. [Applause.]
Mr. Hess. Thank you, Mr. Powers.
DEAR MR. HESS: I regret exceedingly that it is impossible for me to be with you
SAM RAYBURN. (Applause.) Mr. Hess. We had hoped to have the Secretary of the Navy with us today, but we were informed yesterday that he is confined to his quarters with the flu and his physician will not permit him to attend these ceremonies today.
We have with us, however, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ralph A. Bard, whom we will now hear.
STATEMENT OF HON. RALPH A. BARD, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF THE NAVY
Assistant Secretary BARD. Mr. Chairman, members of the Naval Affairs Committee, and distinguished guests:
I have a message for this occasion from the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, which I would like to read:
It is a matter of intense personal regret that sickness conspires to keep me from attending today's ceremony.
Everyone of the Navy delights to do honor to the chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee of the House. The long period of service he has rendered, and the intense personal sacrifice he has made, covering a period of more than one-quarter of a century, have served to make Chairman Vinson one of the best informed men on naval affairs in the entire Government.
It is most fortunate that the Navy has the benefit of such a chairman right now, because never before have naval affairs occupied a more important place in our scheme of national defense than they do at this time.
This war is by all odds the greatest naval war in history and ours is the greatest fleet participating in that war. Under such circumstances, Chairman Vinson has come to the peak of his effort on behalf of the Navy in the current session of Congress. His profound knowledge of all phases of the Navy has enabled him to guide through Congress, with consummate skill, the authorization of total expenditures for naval purposes of nearly $100.000,000,000. For this happy circumstance the Navy and the entire Nation owe a great debt to Chairman Vinson.
I wish that I could be with you to join in doing him honor.
And I want to add, Mr. Chairman, on my own behalf, and speaking also for Mr. Forrestal, the Under Secretary of the Navy; Mr. Gates, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, and I am sure for all those officers and men of the Navy who have been fortunate enough to know and work with our esteemed chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee-I want to say it seems to be the unanimous opinion of all of those now on deck who have had to do with shaping the recent destinies of the Navy, that your love of the Navy, Chairman Vinson, your tireless devotion to its interests, and your sound judgments based on your years of Navy association and experience, have contributed most outstandingly to the success the Vavy has achieved in building, equipping, and fighting the greatest fleet this world has ever seen.
The unanimity of this feeling of admiration for you and your services to the Navy is a rare tribute in the midst of war and strife and particularly in this controversial city of Washington.
Vay you live long and prosper, and as you sit on your Georgia porch and reminisce in days to come it should warm your heart to remember that to the greatest possible degree you merited and won by the vote of all hands of the Navy during this greatest of all wars their highest award and tribute-the Navy's “Well done." (Applause.]
Mr. Hess. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
I now wish to present a distinguished son of the State of Georgia, the senior Senator from that State, the Honorable Walter F. George.