Moving the World Into Tomorrow: that’s the theme for this year’s National Defense Transportation Day. Haven’t heard of National Defense Transportation Day? Don’t feel bad; I didn’t know anything about it before today, but it’s pretty cool. Scheduled on the third Friday of May each year, it falls the day before Armed Forces Day (which is always commemorated on the third Saturday in May). The observed day—no, it’s not a holiday, so no day off for us grown-ups—is used as a day to increase awareness and appreciation for the transportation infrastructure that keeps us moving every day.
Originally established in 1957, National Defense Transportation Day is a day for expressing gratitude to those who came before us and built the infrastructure that provides for the well being and civil defense of all Americans. Since 1962, the week leading up to National Defense Transportation Day has been dubbed National Transportation Week (creative, huh?). The week is typically observed by students; who are the future builders of our world. In recent years, the day has evolved to also encompass sustainable initiatives and green travel options, so this year’s forward-thinking theme seems very appropriate.
As with most things, the President issues a proclamation outlining the current year’s focus for National Defense Transportation Day. Last year, President Obama’s proclamation focused on creating new jobs and rebuilding the infrastructure we already have. He also drew emphasis on the significance to national defense that our roads, bridges and railways play in the event of a national emergency.
I wonder what he’ll focus on this year? Since I still haven’t perfected the ability to see the future—I have not won the lottery yet—I can’t tell you what the President will address, but I can make some guesses! The head honcho in chief has just signed up for a whirlwind tour of eight interviews with television meteorologists to promote his “actionable science” proof that climate change is here. The effort is to build support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants across the US. It makes sense that he would focus on air quality and the initiatives that the transportation industry can adopt to help combat it. Air pollution is certainly something that’s caught our eye around here.
We’ve talked a lot about the air quality in other parts of the world, specifically China. Part of looking toward the future involves embracing new ways to make shipping transportation and air travel more eco-friendly. Yes, we will always need airplanes in some form or another, but maybe it’s time to start looking at ways to build those engines better and cleaner.
Communities with more choices for mass transit would also be on my wish list for this year’s focus. Improving our railways and getting ailing railroad tracks back into tip-top shape would make for more efficient travel—including fewer traffic jams, and that’s a win-win in my book!