National Cold War Center Act of 2021
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. CALDWELL, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, REGARDING S. 1771, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE REFERENCE TO THE MUSEUM LOCATED AT BLYTHEVILLE/EAKER AIR FORCE BASE IN BLYTHEVILLE, ARKANSAS, AS THE ‘‘NATIONAL COLD WAR CENTER’’.
JUNE 23, 2021
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior’s (Department) views on S. 1771, a bill to authorize reference to the museum located at Blytheville/Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville, Arkansas, as the ‘‘National Cold War Center’’.
The Department defers to the Department of Defense for a position on S. 1771 as the purpose of the legislation is to confer a national designation on a museum preserving military history, and the Cold War Center (Center) is located at a site that is not under the jurisdiction of the Department. We would, however, ask the Committee to note the considerations described in this statement.
S. 1771 would authorize the reference of the Cold War Center in Blytheville, Arkansas, as the “National Cold War Center”. The Center is located on the former Blytheville/Eaker Air Force Base, which was created in 1942 as a World War II Training Center, and later became an alert center during the Cold War. The alert center became inactive in 1991, and the Air Force Base closed in 1992. A non-profit organization has begun development of the Center, located on the base, with an exhibit that opened in November 2020.
We are concerned that this legislation proposes the use of the title “national”, which could create an expectation among the general public that the Center has a connection to the Federal government. This is not the first time the issue of a “national” designation for a non-Federal entity has arisen. The Department respectfully encourages the Committee to be judicious in any decision as to whether an entity that does not have an association with the Federal government should have a “national” title conferred by Congress. In addition, because there are other museums dedicated to the subject of the Cold War in operation, the Committee may want to consider whether any one museum dedicated to this subject should be granted the use of “national” in its title by Congress.
Chairman King, this concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to answer questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.