Capitol Words a project of the Sunlight Foundation

  • and

Commemorating Arizona’S Centennial Anniversary

Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 5, 2011, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake) is recognized for 56 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.

Sen. Jeff Flake

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate a milestone in Arizona's history, the centennial of our great State. After nearly 49 years as a U.S. Territory, Arizona became part of the United States on February 14, 1912.

Today Arizona is a bustling, contemporary oasis of more than 6 million people. Its natural wonders--the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Red Rocks of Sedona, the Painted Desert, coupled with modern conveniences, most notably air-conditioning--draw millions of visitors from around the world every year. But it wasn't always so.

Early settlers, ranchers, farmers, and miners had to wonder what they'd gotten themselves into. Such was the case with my ancestors. Allow me to tell a sliver of their story because it tells a little about Arizona's history.

William Jordan Flake, my great-great-grandfather arrived in Arizona territory in 1878. When he bought a ranch on the Silver Creek, he was warned by the previous owners not to invite any other families because the land and water would not sustain them. Fortunately, he didn't listen. Soon the town of Snowflake was born, becoming the hub of activity in what was then Arizona territory.

Not long after, William Jordan's son, James Madison Flake, was deputized, along with his brother, Charles Love Flake, to arrest an outlaw who had drifted into town. As they disarmed the outlaw, the outlaw reached into his boot, drew a weapon, and shot Charles in the neck, killing him instantly. James received a bullet in the left ear before returning fire, killing the outlaw.

Just 3 years later, James Madison Flake sat at the bedside of his beloved wife as she passed away, leaving him with nine children. ``Once again I must kiss the sod and face a cloudy future,'' he poignantly wrote in his journal.

But like so many other pioneers who settled Arizona, he not only faced the future, he shaped it. Along with raising these children and many others that would come later, James Madison Flake involved himself politically in the issues of the day. Notably, he tells in his journal of attending numerous meetings and conventions around Arizona and Colorado to promote the cause of women's suffrage. No doubt, he was proud when, just after Statehood in 1912, Arizona became the seventh State to approve the right of women to vote. Just a few years later, the Nation followed with the 19th amendment to the Constitution.

James Madison Flake would be proud to know that Arizona has many women legislators, has had a number of women Governors, and that the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor, is a proud Arizonan. He would surely be proud to know of Gabby Giffords, daughter of Arizona and one of this Nation's enduring symbols of hope, who served this Nation's House of Representatives so ably.

Over the past 100 years, Arizona has been home to a number of colorful and transformative figures: Carl Hayden, Barry Goldwater, Mo Udall, and John McCain.

With so many unsuccessful Presidential candidates, it's often joked that Arizona is the only State where mothers don't tell their children, Some day you can grow up to be President. In fact, mothers get to tell their children something better: You have the privilege of being an Arizonan.

One thing is certain. Because of the hard work and sacrifice of those who have gone before, Arizona's next 100 years promise to be even better than the first because in Arizona, the beauty of the sunset in the evening is only eclipsed by the sunrise in the morning.

I yield back the balance of my time.