(January 1928), 132-40.
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President Coolidge Bestows Lindbergh Award
Dr. Grosvenor Presents Secretary MacCracken
Introducing the Hon. William P. MacCracken, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, Dr. Grosvenor said:
"Colonel Lindbergh's travels by air have done so much for 'the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge'the purposes for which the National Geographic Society was foundedthat he will, we think, be interested to know that participating in the presentation of this medal are members of this Society residing in 169 countries and mandatories.
"Its membership reaches to the uttermost corners of the globe and even to its most isolated and remote islands.
"For instance, sharing in this pleasure of this award to him are 11,000 members in Australia and New Zealand, 200 in the Fiji Islands, 450 in Java and Sumatra, 10,000 in Central and South America, 28,000 in Europe, 50,000 in Canada, and more than one million members in the United States.
"Many thousands of members are listening in tonight, and to them The Society sends greetings.
"I now have the honor to present the distinguished Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, the Honorable William P. MacCracken.
"Sinner and Saint Prayed for His Success"
Mr. MacCracken said:
"We have just been privileged to witness the conferring of the highest award which the National Geographic Society bestows upon explorers.
"The President had previously expressed the Nation's regard for its recipient and his great achievement, when we welcomed Colonel Lindbergh upon his return from France.
"An unknown civilian aviator, working for an airmail contractor, he took leave to fly from New York to Paris. For 33 hours and 29 minutes he held the attention of the entire civilized world. Irrespective of nationality, creed, or occupation, sinner and saint prayed for his success. When at the end of their vigil he was acclaimed the victor, nations were brought to a clearer realization of the brotherhood of man, and the cause of civilian aviation was advanced to an extent which gold alone could never purchase.
"Great as his achievement was and deep as it endeared him in the hearts of his fellow countrymen, the conduct of Colonel Lindbergh since landing at Le Bourget has done more to inspire admiration for him and faith in the youth of to-day than did his flight itself.
"We in aviation recognize in the President one of the great men who has served this Nation as its Chief Executive. His keen interest in all phases of aeronautics has been in a large measure responsible for the progress made during the past few years. His recognition of these transoceanic flyers and their deeds is appreciated not only by them, but by all the aeronautic fraternity.
Aviation's Gift to Geography
"We have foregathered here as members of one of the world's greatest societies. Its primary purpose, inspired by altruistic motives, is to collect and diffuse geographic knowledge. All forms of transportation have proven valuable adjuncts toward accomplishing these aims; but none has ever presented possibilities as great as those offered by aeronautics.
"Exploration and travel are indispensable to geographic education. Expeditions which heretofore cost months in time and much in human hardships and sacrifice can now be accomplished in a matter of hours, with less exposure of personnel, by means of aircraft. Hazards there will always be in pioneering, but these are but an item in the sum total of the price of progress. Every achievement takes its toll, and we, who are the beneficiaries of what has gone before, do well to pay tribute to our contemporaries who have made their contribution to the well-being of posterity.
"In an era teeming with invention and its resulting application to commerce and industry, it is difficult to ascribe to each its true value. The use of aircraft conserves timethe stuff that life is made offacilitates travel, bringing together in closer relationships and better understanding peoples of all nations; expedites commerce, with resulting prosperity; provides more effective means for exterminating cropand lifedestroying insects, and assists beyond measure man's battle against the destructive forces of fire and flood.
"There is not a man, woman, or child in this Nation to-day who is not more secure in, and better able to enjoy, all that life holds dear by reason of the pioneering that has been done in civil aeronautics. Comparatively few in number are they that realize this, and still fewer fully comprehend its future possibilities. Truth is not always obvious, but faith sustains when vision fails.
"May I recount briefly something of what our Nation has contributed to the development of aviation. It includes the invention and first flight in an airplane, the first transatlantic flight, the only flight around the world, and the first flight to the North Pole.
"During this year alone American pilots, using aircraft and engines designed and built in the United States, completed a series of world-renowned transoceanic flights, spanning time and again the Atlantic, and the Pacific from the mainland to the Hawaiian Islands. These expeditions are frequently referred to as 'American stunt aviators,' but their real significance is far greater than that designation implies. They have done much to promote international good will, as well as to stimulate interest in aviation. All the participants in these great undertakings are worthy of our unstinted praise.