Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of John Robson as Under Secretary and Stanford Ross as General Counsel, Department of Transportation

May 28, 1968

Secretary Boyd, Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

I have been slightly delayed because of a transportation problem. I wanted to avoid calling on the experts if I could, but my problem is how to get General Westmoreland from Saigon to Johnson City and get the Prime Minister of Australia from Washington to Johnson City, and get both of them there at the same time for a briefing, with the present transportation facilities we have.

I know that down the road Secretary Boyd and his Department will have the answers to all these problems but I am confronted with it here today at lunch.

As we meet here to swear in these two young lawyers, we might begin with a quotation from the Bible:

"... Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers."

Now I have known lawyers like that, but the two young men with us today are not among them. Anyone who accepts a position of responsibility in the field of transportation policy can be said to have touched the burdens with both hands.

Much of the history of America is written in the story of transportation. The clipper ship, Conestoga wagon, iron horse, and Model T symbolized growth and symbolized greatness in the past. The high-speed train, the giant cargo plane, the swifter ships will just as surely be part of our American future.

The quality of transportation has a vital and a daily effect on the quality of life in America. How quickly and how safely and how efficiently we move ourselves and our goods helps determine the health, safety, convenience, and prosperity of our people.

Transportation is our youngest Government department. It is an area where young Americans eager to influence America's destiny can find immense challenge and mighty satisfaction.

So the challenges of transportation are clear:

--When man can orbit the earth in only a little more time than a truck can cross Manhattan at rush hour.

--When railroads can move freight more speedily than they can move people.

--When congestion at airports means delay and inconvenience on the ground, and danger in the sky.

--When traffic chokes our cities and fouls the air above them, slowing commerce and imperiling health.

America is blessed when she has brilliant young men who are directing the destiny of the Department of Transportation, particularly young men like Secretary Boyd and these other young men who have agreed to come here and make a career of meeting these challenges.

John Robson and Stan Ross are two such men.

John Robson, the first General Counsel of the Department of Transportation, is being promoted to Under Secretary. Stan Ross replaces him as General Counsel.

They have much in common: They are young. They are dedicated. They have high achievement. They have---for all their youth--very deep experience in the ways of Government. They understand how to move a concept through the bureaucracy of Joe Califano's office into the physical reality of an act of Congress. Now we will see if they can take these acts and if they can move millions of their fellow Americans and tons of freight across this country. And we hope they can move the people as smoothly and efficiently as they can move the freight.

Under the leadership of this young, dynamic, wise Secretary, Alan Boyd, I believe they can and at least I am going to, along with these youngsters here, put my money on them.

Note: The President spoke at 12:56 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. His opening words referred to Alan S. Boyd, Secretary of Transportation, who administered the oath of office to Mr. Robson and Mr. Ross. Later he referred to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Special Assistant to the President.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of John Robson as Under Secretary and Stanford Ross as General Counsel, Department of Transportation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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