Transportation and communication are essential to civilization. Within the year an encouragement has been given to their development that has few parallels in history. The principles of aviation were demonstrated first by Americans at the turn of the last century. In the intervening years their science progressed, both here and abroad. Important flights were made.
It remained for one of our own citizens in May, 1927, to arouse universal interest in the practical possibilities of travel through the air. His flight, alone and unaided, from New York to Paris thrilled the world. It appealed to the imagination of humanity. How the hero of this exploit was revealed, not as a reckless adventurer, but as an able, sober-minded, modest young man of high and unselfish purpose, has now passed into history. What he did to strengthen the cordial relations between our people and Europe is well known. The wonderful and sincere welcome he received abroad, the acclaim that greeted him at home, are still fresh in the public mind.
But that was not all. With a clear conception of public service, he determined to capitalize his fame, not for selfish aggrandizement but for the promotion of the art he loves. He was unmoved by the many opportunities for private gain. The flight to Europe was spectacular. It stirred the heart of the people. But foremost in his mind was the permanent good that might come from thus having directed public thought to human flight. This courageous, clear-headed, sure-handed youth, whose character had withstood the glare of publicity and the acid test of hero-worshiping adulation, became an apostle of aeronautics. He dedicated himself to advancing the science and practice of aviation.
Taking little time to recover from the strain of his experiences, he started on a missionary tour of over 22,000 miles. Flying in his Spirit of St. Louis, the "Spirit of America" visited 82 cities in our 48 States. Only once did he fail to arrive on scheduled time, establishing a record for reliability. He spoke not about himself but for airways and airports in 147 speeches and 192 messages dropped from the clouds. Because of what he has said and done we are told aeronautic plans for 1928 indicate an activity far beyond any dreams of six months ago.
Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, it has been the privilege of few to do as much for a cause in so short a period of time. You have richly merited the many honors already bestowed. To-night I have the utmost gratification in awarding you this further recognition of achievement, the Hubbard Medal of the National Geographic Society.