By Nora Tidey, Staff Writer
Since 1996 the Eisenhower Institute has been holding the annual Blavatt Lecture. Endowed by Ronald and Susan Blavatt of Maryland, the lecture series features individuals whose professional experiences provide first-hand perspectives of the American political system. Past speakers have included Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball; Fred Fielding, Counselor to President Reagan and President George W. Bush; Howard Fineman, Senior Correspondent of Newsweek and many more distinguished political professionals. This year’s lecture, entitled “From Diplomacy to Defense: Securing Our Future,” was given by Congresswoman Kay Granger on March 23. Representing Texas’ 12th congressional district, Congresswoman Granger is currently serving her tenth term and is also the first and only Republican woman to represent Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has served during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and her leadership has addressed hard-hitting issues including the Ebola outbreak, human trafficking, the influx of displaced children at the U.S.-Mexico border, the rise of anti-Semitism and many other humanitarian efforts.
After a singing of the National Anthem by Drop the Octave Kenneth Mott, professor of Political Science here at Gettysburg College, introduced Congresswoman Granger at the March 23 lecture. He highlighted her accomplishments and joked about her entering the current presidential race, to which she lightly responded, “You could do worse in this election than voting for me.” Congresswoman Granger went on to discuss triumphs and challenges regarding national security, sharing anecdotes from her career not only as a Congresswoman but as vice-chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and chair of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which has direct oversight of the Department of State. She spoke about being at the Pentagon to discuss security when 9/11 occurred and identified that as the moment in her life that solidified her desire to be involved in defense. Congresswoman Granger touched on the United States’ strengths and weaknesses regarding defense and foreign operations and asserted that the U.S. is still the most powerful nation in the world, stating, “We have problems and things we need to address, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are powerful, generous, and giving.”
Humanitarian assistance, quality of life improvement efforts and foreign military financing were among the topics Congresswoman Granger went on to discuss. She highlighted the importance of not only providing aid to those in need but giving access to opportunity as well. She described her experiences working with distinguished individuals including Elton John, Bono, Malala Yousafzai and Harrison Ford on collaborative humanitarian efforts, including increasing women’s access to education, raising awareness about endangered wildlife and international health care. Congresswoman Granger discussed issues ranging on the diplomatic spectrum and gave the audience a look into her career and accomplishments. A brief question and answer session followed the lecture. For more information on the Eisenhower Institute, visit www.eisenhowerinstitute.org.