Last Wednesday, Heritage cut the ribbon for the newest addition to its D.C. campus, the E.W. Richardson building. The building will provide state-of-the-art housing for the nearly 200 interns that take part in Heritage’s highly competitive internship program every year, and will also provide short-term housing for visiting fellows and researchers.

During the speeches given by President Kay Coles James, Texas senator Ted Cruz, E.W. Richardson fellow James Jay Carafano, and intern graduate Noelani Bonifacio, one common thread appeared: deep respect and gratitude for the man whose legacy made the building possible.

E.W. “Rich” Richardson was a powerful example of American courage, spirit, and ingenuity. Born in 1921, he taught himself how to fly at a young age and loved planes all his life. He was just 20 years old when World War II broke out and he joined the Army Air Corps. After working as a flight instructor, he became a lead bomber pilot on important and dangerous missions overseas.

On February 22, 1945, Rich’s plane was shot down over Vienna, and he bravely manned the controls until his nine other crew members had managed to escape to safety. He was then captured by the Germans, interrogated at Nuremberg, and held as a prisoner of war at Moosberg prison in Germany until a week before the war ended. When he was liberated and returned to America, he knew two things: that he would keep flying, and that he would never take a moment for granted.

After the war, he married and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he raised his family and built up one of the most successful Ford dealerships in the country. He taught his children to also work hard, and to help others. He was a great patriot, and a firm believer in giving back to the community and the people who had helped him succeed, and even after his passing in 2003, his legacy has continued both to inspire and to help many, many peoples’ lives.

Watch this powerful video telling Rich’s story:

And this video with all the highlights from the Grand Opening:

Heritage is incredibly grateful to Rich’s family and friends, who made the E.W. Richardson building possible, and we’re excited for his story to inspire a new generation of young conservative leaders.

Why do you believe in America? What advice do you have for young conservatives?

It was a monumental day for freedom and Israeli-American ties on April 14, when the new embassy in Jerusalem opened. President Trump is making the right move by officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and The Heritage Foundation has encouraged and bolstered the move every step of the way.

The day after the president announced the move of the embassy, Heritage expert James Phillips released a commentary praising the President’s decision and looking downstream at what the move might mean for our foreign policy and our relationships in the Middle East. Fellow expert Peter Brookes also addressed the move a few days later, where he stands up for the President’s actions against the naysaying mainstream media, and repeats that Israel has the right to choose its own capital city.

On the day the embassy opened, The Daily Signal ran a livestream of the event on Facebook. The managing editor of The Daily Signal Katrina Trinko and commentary editor Daniel Davis also sat down with Phillips in a podcast to talk about Palestine’s opposition to the move, and the potential impact the move could have on peace in the Middle East. Read the transcript >>

As Hamas continued to ramp up hostilities toward Israel following the move, Phillips published an article in USA TODAY acknowledging that while the embassy move could complicate short-term peace negotiations, in the long run it should benefit peace in the region by pressuring the Middle East to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. The New York Times also quoted his perspective in their own article on the move and its short-term effects.

It’s thanks to your support that Heritage has a respected voice on this issue, and that we can continue to stand behind the President as we strengthen our ties with our closest ally in the Middle East.

What do you think will happen next in The Middle East, and how should Trump react?

This week, Congress is hard at work on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual bill that serves as approval for our military to continue defending America. It’s a crucial bill, and a unique one in that it almost always passes and is almost always bipartisan, which makes it a key opportunity for encouraging conservative policy.

The NDAA is crucial because it helps to dictate our military readiness. And to that end, Heritage’s experts have been hard at work making sure that conservative policy has a place at the table as committees decide how ready America will be for any coming threats.

Every year, Heritage releases its influential Index of Military Readiness, which outlines how well-equipped and prepared the American military is for an attack right now. And for the last few years, the results have been alarming: our military is in a shaky place, using out-of-date equipment, not training its soldiers well enough, and allowing too many irrelevant programs and political pet projects to suck up its already scanty budget. It’s more important than ever for the new NDAA to address the problems in the military and make sure that we are prepared to protect our country.

At the beginning of the process for the newest NDAA, the defense experts at Heritage released a detailed report highlighting that the NDAA this year must lay the groundwork for the military to recover its strength. While they say it will take more than a year to undo the deterioration the army has suffered, it is even more important that the military has the resources and support that it needs to keep America safe well into the future.

What do you think should be done about the military?

Trump is making good on campaign promises, and is using a disused but effective process to request that Congress cut $15 billion in spending this year. This is the largest spending cut that the president has ever requested.

The process, known as a rescissions package, is a request from the President for Congress to cut spending. Once it’s presented, Congress has 45 days to act on the request. While it used to be an extremely common process, with President Reagan using it over 200 times during some years of his administration, it fell out of use in the Bush and Obama years. The Daily Signal released an article last month that outlines the process and its history, bringing attention to the process and putting several conservative leaders on record supporting its use.

A few days before Trump made his request, reporter Rachel del Guidice interviewed more leading conservatives in another article, expressing their support for the rescissions package as a good first step. Once the rescissions package became official, Heritage experts also began to voice their perspectives on the bill. Senior policy analyst Justin Bogie released a report on the package, calling it a good first step that will need to be followed by even stronger action. Heritage founder Ed Feulner discussed the rescissions package in a Washington Times article, agreeing that the rescissions package was the right place to start for spending reform. Heritage President Kay Coles James agreed in the opinion piece she wrote for Fox News, calling for Congress to abide by the same spending habits as regular Americans must.

With your support for Heritage, you are encouraging better spending policy that will save even more money for hardworking Americans. Thank you!

What do you think should be the next steps for America’s budget?

Delivered at The Heritage Foundation on May 16, 2018, for the E.W. Richardson building dedication.

 

Well, as long as I have the microphone, I did want to say if you want a reason why you should invest in The Heritage Foundation, all you have to do is look at Kim Holmes. For 15 years, this guy has been my friend and my mentor. I mean, people like him that live in this place who fight every day to make this country free, safe, and prosperous, it’s just an honor to know him. Thanks for being up here.

E.W. would not want us to be here without recognizing who brought us here. So I want to read a prayer. E.W. didn’t write this prayer. It was written by Captain Herbert Bloch, but as I understand every time E.W. got behind the cockpit there and he had nine lives behind him and he was going into harms way that he would read this prayer before he went on a mission. So if you would join with me in bowing your heads.

Oh, God. Thou who has created the heavens and the earth, and in thy natural way has made it possible for man to sustain himself in flight through the air: We ask again thy blessings on these men as they go out to fly high in the sky. Grant them courage to do a good job. Protect them against the assaults of the enemy, and may their faith be their unfaltering in thee. We pray it so in the name of him who has given us power over all things of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Rich would be the first guy to stand up and tell you that his was not the greatest generation. It’s not. Every generation of Americans is the greatest generation. From the guys that froze their butt off in Valley Forge to kids that are walking around in Afghanistan today, they’re all great. Every one of them, men and women, put their lives on the line for you. But Rich’s generation was the generation that was called to arms at Americans’ greatest hour of need. If they had not done their duty and won that day there, we would not be sitting here having a conversation about the future of freedom. Now not only is Rich gone but most of them are gone—but not all of them.

We have one World War II veteran here today that I would like to introduce you to. Colonel Darrel Smith entered the U.S. Air Force, the Army Air Force, in 1943. He, like Rich, was a B24 Liberator pilot. He, like Rich, flew at the great 15th Air Force. He, like Rich, flew out of Southern Italy on really some of the most daring and dangerous bomber flying in the history of air warfare, and he, like Rich, had good days and October 13th, 1944 was not one of them. Colonel Smith’s plane was hit by a German aircraft artillery fire. Unable to get back to the base, the crew bailed out. He was the last one out of the plane. He was captured and was a prisoner of war until he was liberated in 1945, when the Russians overran the compound and liberated him, and thankfully gave him back to us, which was kind of nice.

Rich went off and did amazing things. Colonel Smith went on to serve 32 years in the American Air Force. He was married for 73 years. He raised three children. He is the grandfather of 12. He is the great grandfather of seven. He is the great great grandfather of two. The recipient of the Legion of Merit Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in saying thank you for your service to Colonel Smith.

Well, so Colonel Smith, I’m retired Army. I hope that’s okay. I’m also the E.W. Richardson fellow. Dr. Patrice Richardson wanted me to remind you of that. But in the military we had a tradition and we have this tradition here also at The Heritage Foundation. It’s called the challenge coin. So you meet someone that you love and respect and honor, you present them a coin that represents the unit and everything you stand for. So on behalf of the E.W. Richardson fellow and Heritage Foundation, we would like to present you the E.W. Richardson coin.

Just really briefly, I know we’ve talked a lot about Rich’s service, but you just have to pause and think if you’re 18 years old and you’re wearing a uniform, and I was one of them, you think you’re going to live forever. You do all kinds of wacky and crazy things and don’t worry about it. The kids that flew in a bomber crew that were 18 and 19 and 21 years old, they thought they were going to die. They had no illusion that they were ever going to come back and see their family again. They had the highest casualty rate of any American that fought in combat. When we think of the danger of combat, we think about Colonel Smith getting shot down or Captain Richardson getting shot down, but that was a small fraction of the terror that was likely to kill somebody. You could die taking off. You could die trying to land. You could die bumping into another plane. You could fly into a mountain. If you got up here, you were freezing at 20,000 feet.

I think once you get to 20,000 feet, isn’t that as cold as it’s going to get. But you’re literally freezing. Patty and I were talking that if you had a bare hand and you touched the metal frame on the plane at 20,000 feet, the skin was coming off. You were on oxygen. It was an incredibly difficult physical trial, and really almost to the limits of human endurance and experience and you did that every time you got up in a plane. Some people 45 times. That’s just unbelievable what they went through.

As much as we talk about Rich and his World War II career, we forget about the whole rest of his life, which is just as much about the American experience. That he came back and he believed in serving his country, and he believed in just a couple of things. He believed in faith. He believed in his family. He believed in free enterprise. He fought for those things, and he spent the rest of his life living it and making sure that everybody he touched and his family or anybody else understood that and was part of that. So when you talk about being dedicated to making America free, safe, and prosperous, this man lived that dream. We here, we get that. I mean, I’ve often said, and I know I speak for everybody here at Heritage, when Kim said, “Well what does this mean to us?” We know why we’re here because people have faith in us to go out and do the right thing. That is a pressure and obligation we feel every single day. We love that pressure and that obligation. So to have that kind of honor and that kind of commitment is it just says more than you can mean.

But I didn’t want to just leave it by talking about the military career because some people who work in the defense realm, some people are going to work in other areas, in healthcare and welfare and education and public service. It’s not just the people who stay here and work here like Kim has dedicated his entire professional life to The Heritage Foundation, except for that brief, unfortunate stint in the State Department.

There are a number of young people that will go through here. Some of them will be interns, some of them will come back and serve at Heritage, some of them go off and do other things. The whole intern experience is so integral that of course as you know that the new building is where we’re going to house our interns.

I want to introduce a young lady right that to talk about what that part of Heritage really means and what the building really means. Noelani Bonifacio is originally from Hawaii. So she was in Hawaii and then she came here. So we have to think about that one for a second. She graduated from that fashion of conservative font of great conservative men and women, the University of Hawaii. She interned at the tough place. She interned in policy promotion where they do everything all the time, do amazing standards, and the interns get worked to death. If you think of that picture in Ben-Hur, with Charlton Heston at the oars, that’s pretty much the intern experience in policy promotion. And she lived in the Johnson Building during her internship. She currently works for the House Republican study committee as a professional policy staffer, and her portfolio includes education, labor, transportation, infrastructure, and natural resources. So we’ve asked her to come talk for a few minutes about her experience at Heritage.

Please join with me in welcoming her to the stage.

Continue to Ms. Bonifacio’s speech >>

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