This Saturday marks an important milestone for our great state: the 150th anniversary of Kansas' entrance into the Union.

The state's motto "Ad Astra per Aspera," to the stars through difficulty has symbolized different things for different generations. But one thing has remained constant: it has always meant standing up for what is right, even when it is not popular.

As Kansans, we have a proud history. In the days before Kansas became a state, settlers bravely fought physical and political battles to ensure the state would enter into the Union on the right side of history. For those settlers, the desire to make Kansas a free state was not about self-preservation or self-improvement; rather, it was about making life better for the next generation.

Following in the footsteps of the Sunflower State's pioneers, I will approach the next two years in Washington with commitments to defend the unpopular and to speak for the unspoken.

A $14 trillion debt, record budget deficits and economic policies that inhibit, not promote, growth threaten the financial solvency of the country today and tomorrow. It is easy for lawmakers today to just charge the country credit card, but the consequences will be dire: future generations will be burdened and shouldered with bad decisions of yesterday if we fail to correct them today. At the risk of our country's bankruptcy, spending must be reduced, deficits must be eliminated and the budget must be balanced.

I am honored to be serving on the Committee for Veterans. To the more than 200,000 Kansas men and women who have served our country, your voices deserve to be among the loudest, yet sometimes your basic needs are not even met. Congress and citizens must make sure you are cared for beyond battlefields and war zones.

They say that a society will be judged by how it treats the weakest of its members. Congress must pledge to defend the unborn, and this begins with eliminating any federal funding for abortion both at home and abroad. The past few weeks have revealed some staggering statistics, including that Kansas has the 13th highest abortion rates in the country and that the abortion rate in our state has increased. But beyond government's role, we must do more as a society to encourage and assist pregnant women and their families. Whether through our direct help or through adoption, let us work together so that they know that we value them and their unborn children.

Today's fight to defend the unborn is in many respects similar to the battles our forefathers waged against slavery during Bleeding Kansas. Bolstered by the treacherous Dred Scott of the U.S. Supreme Court, proponents of slavery argued that slaves were not human beings. Abolitionists, on the other hand, demanded and fought for the basic human rights of all people, including slaves. Similarly, those who speak up for the unborn do so to ensure that individual liberty and dignity are respected and revered for all.

So this Kansas Day let us celebrate not just the history of the state, but also what it means to be a Kansan.

TIM HUELSKAMP,

Topeka

Huelskamp represents the First District of Kansas.