tv Representative John Murtha Papers CSPAN November 27, 2016 3:44pm-4:01pm EST
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exploring american history. next come i look at our recent visit to pittsburgh, pennsylvania. you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. ♪ >> representing the 12th district of pennsylvania, congressman john murtha presents capital commentary. and now here is congressman murtha. congressman murtha: i'm glad you can join us from a series of our reports from washington. the archive service center that really collection theyials and documents postindustrial pittsburgh. today, we will talk about
congressman john patrick murtha, better known as jack murtha. john murtha was a congressman that served almost four decades in washington, representing the people of western pennsylvania, particularly the people sort of in the areas to the east and the south of surrounding pittsburgh. what i would like to share with you today is a bit about congressman murtha's career as a military man, about his influence with military spending, and also his legacy in the national parks service in western pennsylvania. inn murtha was not born western pennsylvania, but down along the ohio river in west virginia in the 1930's. but moke -- both of his parents were from western pa. so he finds himself coming back here as an early child. his family tradition is irish
catholic. his great-grandfather emigrated to this country. they worked in the coal mines around places like scottsdale pennsylvania,sant just to the east of pittsburgh. it is very important to know that coal mining was very havetant here because we the home of the steel industry. and: the refinement of coal and coke is part of that trajectory in the steelmaking process. so it is very important. wereck murtha's ancestors a big part of that trajectory of the steel industry here in pittsburgh. public service was a huge thing for the murtha's and the array families. influencedtly congressman murtha. he volunteered for the marine corps. he became a drill instructor down in parris island.
then he became an officer's candidate at quantico. is finishedactually with his active service in the marine corps. continues for many years to be a reserve in the marine corps. fact, he continues to be in the reserves until 1990, where he retires as a kernel. service is not his only . he does volunteer for service in 1966. he was in vietnam. they had tours for one year when they were deployed. so the major objective that he wasas military intelligence mapping out where guerrilla warfare and attacks on american forces were happening with a new way of analyzing data. he was able to determine where the enemy was located. and they were reducing the attacks greatly during his time
period. this was a significant thing for the military. jack murtha was elected to -- 1874.in 1974 new congressmen are assigned to committee works. one of the things he was assigned to fairly quickly was the house subcommittee on defense appropriation. this was critical because what is happening is it is building on his military experience. in his election in 1974, he is the first member of the house to have served in vietnam. and tip o'neill decides that, you know, jack murtha needs to be on these fact finding trips around the world. wherever there are appropriations for military movements. and so, for instance, one of the very first ones in 1978, he
finds himself back in vietnam, back in southeast asia, and he is meeting with various political figures as well as with military figures, and one of the things he does is he records on tape kind of a diary of his actions through the day. one of the things we have here in the collection are this wonderful transcript of his tapes. also with his notations on them. one of the things it says here is the state department was stating that there are two or three thousand russians in vietnam today and they give approximately $500 million per year in aid. they're also talking about sort of the claims of the vietnamese not being friendly to the russians and especially being more friendly to the chinese. basically a fact finding trip is what's going on here trying to figure out who are the players on the ground in vietnam still? later on he is assigned to go to beirut and egypt on a fact finding mission in the 1980's.
this particular trip, one of the things that's produced is this wonderful album of photographs. he visits, you know, the palace and president mubarak of egypt. but, also, one of the things that's very critical in this is a clipping, which basically says, murtha's trip will influence the direction of the appropriation subcommittee talks. one of the things that congressman murtha sort of distinguished himself by the early part of the 21st century was his expertise in military intelligence, military service, and the service on the appropriations committee. so he becomes a very strong voice for any military action happening by the united states. 9/11 happens. and so we go to war. particularly with, against terrorism and afghanistan. but shortly after that, we find
ourselves looking, getting the resolution to go to war in iraq. congressman murtha supports the initial resolution to go to war in iraq like many of his colleagues in congress. but within a few years, he begins to be more critical of that action. and by november of 2005, he introduced -- introduces a resolution to actually pull our troops out of iraq. >> the united states and coalition troops have done all they can in iraq. it's time for a change in direction. our military is suffering. the future of our country is at risk. we cannot continue on the present course. it is evident that continued military action in iraq is not in the best interests of the united states of america. >> this is extremely
controversial. particularly from his base constituents, which are, you know, very much pro sort of military types of folks. to understand sort of how controversial this was, congressman murtha received a huge amount of mail, probably about six boxes worth of letters, mostly against what he had to say. mostly against his resolution to pull out of iraq. this letter from a former enlisted man from wisconsin says, by definition you are a traitor. your comments are aiding and abetting the enemy. you, sir, are an embarrassment to our country, the flag, and the freedom. another person writing that's also a retired military man, says, benedict arnold was a decorated soldier as well. one of the last ones that i would like to sort of highlight is coming from a citizen in
florida where he says, marines don't cut and run. marines don't quit before the job is done. marine don't leave their dead on the field. you may have once been a marine, but it seems that your soul has been sold to the enemies of our country. you are a disgrace to the corps. this is the kind of terrible sort of feeling that some americans had and needed to express that to congressman murtha. but there were also people that felt that murtha was doing the right thing. in particular, here is a very good letter from rhode island from a citizen who is saying, i want to thank you for taking a courageous and correct position to bring our troops home from iraq. you have put your country first, ahead of your own interests, but in accord with the wisdom and conscience of your inner being.
god bless you. in 2006, congressman murtha was awarded the profiles in courage award from the jfk presidential library. they stated at the time of the award as a combat veteran and retired marine corps colonel with 37 years of service in the u.s. military, murtha's decision to withdraw his support from the iraq war carried particular weight. his decision speaking out against the protracted conflict shifted public sentiment about the war and generated a substantive national debate on the progress, policies, and objectives of the u.s. presence in iraq. so you can see here in this picture congressman murtha after he's awarded the profile in courage award, embracing caroline kennedy in a very emotional ceremony. congressman murtha was also very good at bringing back dollars to western pennsylvania, supporting people in the work of the federal government here in the region. one the ways that he did that was he was involved in the appropriations committee for the
interior department, which of course is the parent of the national park service. congressman murtha: in many ways our national parks represent what our greatest strengths are as a nation. the natural beauty of our great land, seemingly limitless potential, unspoiled by the ravages of man. for pennsylvania, our park lands also represent another source of economic diversification as tourists spend nearly $20 million a day throughout the commonwealth. >> in particular, he was very supportive in the 1980's of the creation of the industrial national park heritage areas. this is important to western pennsylvania, because as we
talked about before with his family's connection to the coal and steel industry, pittsburgh and western pennsylvania is the center of steel making. but in the 1980's it's on a huge decline. in fact, it becomes almost -- it almost disappears. so at this point in time, he's looking at ways in which we can capitalize on the steel heritage and promote it through some tourism and preservation for the betterment of our country. >> but this plan, this coordinated effort by the parks department, by the local government, by the commissioners in the various counties, by the state, has changed our direction and added to the other things that we've done. as you said earlier, throughout the country people are interested in this particular project because it's a pilot project for the rest of the country of how you can bring counties together. >> in part of the collection,
there are wonderful recordings, video recordings of his show called "capitol commentary" that he recorded in washington and were sent back here to western pennsylvania. in some of his episodes, he interviews several of the leaders in the national park, also some of the researchers in the national park service, particularly around this industrial heritage area. people in congressman murtha's district saw that he really was working for them and bringing back programs, federal programs that were helping them, themselves. during the 1980's and the 1990's there was a lot of unemployment here, and so he got a lot of support from his constituents for bringing these programs and creating some of the centers that were developed here and became home in johnstown and western pennsylvania. many of his fellow congressmen saw his great sort of support programs coming into western
pennsylvania as earmarks and pork-supported projects and it didn't set as well with them. so they became very big critics of him. congressman murtha died in 2010. he, unfortunately, was having some illness and had surgery and he died from complications from his surgery. his passing was a great blow to the people of western pennsylvania and the 12th district. >> this weekend, we are featuring the history of pittsburgh pennsylvania, together with our comcast cable partners. learn more about pittsburgh and other stops on our cities tour at www.c-span.org/cities tour. you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. america"eek, "reel
brings you archival films for public affair issues. north dakota has been in the news recently as members of the haveing rock sioux tribe been protesting the dakota access oil pipeline, which would cross their ancestral lands and environmentally sensitive areas. rica," wereel ame travel back to the early 1960's, when oil was first discovered in north dakota. "american frontier," funded by the american petroleum oilitute, to promote the exploration of the land for farmers. ♪