Lawrenceville, N.J. – An all American man, words that describe a man with over 30 years experience dealing with the men and women of Capitol Hill, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg exemplifies the qualities of an experienced and successful American.
The native New Jerseyan graced Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ with his presence on Wednesday night, April 11, 2012. The event concluded a series of political speakers brought to the University by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics.
The senator was born in Patterson, NJ in what was a semi-impoverished home with a father that worked the silk mills of Northern New Jersey. Seeing the tough hand his parents were dealt, Lautenberg learned the vital key to success is a great education, a lesson not only learned by his family’s financial state but by the words of his father encouragement. Lautenberg recalled the time when his father had taken him to his workplace to essentially teach him a lesson so his future could be much more prosperous than his families current financial situation and work situation.
“He took my hand and said I want to show you something… you see that, that’s bad for you…you must never work in a place like this, you have to get an education,” Lautenberg said while explaining his fathers working conditions.
Six years later Lautenberg saw the loss of his father who was 43 years old at the time of his death with Lautenberg being only19 years old.
“Why should children that can learn, not be able to go to school? I believe in the system we have, it just has to be fairer, and it has to be better balanced. Our obligation is to make sure that there is equity in our society.” Lautenberg said after touching on how important education was in his development.
Soon after the passing of his father and graduating from high school Lautenberg decided to enlist in the United States Army. He joined the army as a part of the Signal Corps, mainly to help support his family and mainly because he “wanted to do something different.” Using the GI bill and the skills he had obtained in the army Lautenberg took his fathers advice on education and went to Columbia University.
“Thank goodness that the army helped me to get into Columbia University,” Lautenberg added while speaking about his college education.
He attended and graduated Columbia with a degree in economics, which lead to his business career as Chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP). He and a handful of friends made it possible for the company to thrive which paved the way for Lautenberg’s success as a businessman.
When speaking about the company Lautenberg explained how the experience was positive motivator towards his career. He had this to say about his experience, “It set a tone for me, ADP was an outstandingly successful company.”
With the success that he had seen form bringing his company from the ground up Lautenberg wanted to give some of the entrepreneur and business minded students in the audience a bit of advice. He went on by saying, “I would give a young person or an older person the same advice. Make sure that you treat your employees fairly, with respect, and with the ability to earn a living, because frankly for ADP that was the measure that built our company.”
Finally after being in business for a while latenberg decided that he once again needed to do something different. Having already served his country in WWII, he stepped up and decided to try his hands in politics specifically the senate and in 1982 he had won a seat in the senate as a New Jersey State Senator. When asked about this he briefly and strongly exclaimed that, “I belong with my country.”
When speaking about some of his accomplishments in the few years as senator, the senator spoke about how he was behind many of the restrictions on increasing the drinking age to 21 along with decreasing the BAC content form 1.0 to 0.08 for drunk drivers. This one feat that he was really proud of because it has saved many lives since it has been enacted as a law.
“We save 1,000 kids a year from dying on the highway, and then I dropped the drinking content from 1.0 to .08 and we saved another 500 people a year. So overall since the law was made we’ve saved 30,000 people,” the senator commented.
The senator also was part of the elimination of smoking on airplanes, and fights for students till this day while trying to lower the prices of student loans and college tuition in hopes of making higher education much more affordable.
When asked about his views on the current president and on the two wars the country is in the senator had this to say.
“I think that President Obama is a good president,” said Lautenberg adding that “he is almost professorial in his commentary,” and that “I think he has his mind in the right place.”
As far as the wars were concerned the senator spoke about how during the time of September 11, 2001, he was for the war and voted to go to war. He stated that based on the information that was being passed down from the upper echelons he acted in the way he thought was best. The senator also added that, “the wounds from these two wars are the worst out of any [other] wars.”
With a feeling of having so much more to offer, the 88 year old senator feels that he will still be in the senate for a while longer and shows no hopes of leaving soon, as “…a devoted believer in America.” He still feels we can change things and better ourselves as a country.