Earlier today, I quoted President Ronald Reagan from 1982 about the connection between investing in America's transportation and creating jobs. And earlier in the week, I quoted President Harry S. Truman, who understood that transportation was an essential function of government.
Now, as DOT celebrates its 45th anniversary I'd like to quote another former Commander In Chief--President Lyndon B. Johnson--on the occasion of signing into law the bill that created the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966:
"In a large measure, America's history is a history of her transportation. Our early cities were located by deep water harbors and inland waterways; they were nurtured by ocean vessels and by flatboats. The railroad allowed us to move east and west. A thousand towns and more grew up along the railroad's gleaming rails. The automobile stretched out over cities and created suburbia in America. Trucks and modern highways brought bounty to remote regions. Airplanes helped knit our Nation together, and knitted it together with other nations throughout the world."
Recognizing the importance of the nation's transportation system to our economy and our way of life, President Johnson thanked Congress for "bringing together 31 agencies and their bureaus, going in all directions, into a single Department of Transportation."
- To improve the safety in every means of transportation, safety of our automobiles, our trains, our planes, and our ships.
- To bring new technology to every mode of transportation by supporting and promoting research and development; and
- To solve our most pressing transportation problems.
And since that day, this Department has been doing exactly that.
In fact, 45 years later, safety is still our number one priority. In the two years and nine months since I became Secretary of Transportation, I have seen throughout DOT thousands of people--thousands--who come to work eagerly every day because they take to heart President Johnson's charge, and they see it as a personal mission to improve the safety of transportation in America.
So, if you're out and about this weekend, when you buckle up your seat belt, please wish DOT a happy birthday. If you drive over a rumble strip warning you to pull back into your lane, wish DOT a happy birthday. If you board an airplane that has been recently inspected for safety, wish DOT a happy birthday. And if you're planting bulbs for next spring and call 811 before you dig, wish DOT a happy birthday.
In return, I can assure you that, when we blow out the 45 candles on the DOT cake, we'll have only one wish: your continued safety.
Safe travels, everyone.