Update: It was the Department of Interior’s 160th. Thanks to Kara Lamb for alerting me to my error. Everyone needs an editor — especially bloggers. 🙂
Bureau of Reclamation Department of Interior turned 160 years old today. Here’s a transcript of the celebration today from the Washington Post (Secretary Salazar):
Thank you all very much. I want to welcome all of you to the 160 anniversary of the Department of Interior. The Department of Interior’s history mirrors the story of our nation. We have changed as America has changed. We have taken on new challenges and responsibilities as the issues facing our nation and our world have changed over time.
We have been entrusted to serve as the stewards of America the beautiful. Purple mountains, rooted plains, the landmarks of our history and the icons of our heritage. When secretary of the interior, Thomas Ewing, took the oath of office on March 3, 1849, the United States of America ended at the Mississippi River. There were only 29 stars on the flag of the United States.
The Department of the Interior today now reaches across 12 time zones. It includes responsibility for places as grand as Yosemite, structures as mighty as the Hoover Dam, and creatures as small as the tiniest song bird.
Along the way, our nation has passed through times of deep crisis; the War Between the States, 13 economic recessions, the Great Depression. But with each crisis, the Department of Interior has helped our nation not only persevere but grow stronger.
At the dawn of the 20th century when America was losing its forests, its wildlife, and its open spaces, President Teddy Roosevelt turned an environmental crisis into the legacy of stewardship that we still enjoy today. He expanded our national parks, laying the foundation for a modern-day national park system. And he built the world’s largest system of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System.
And in the dark days of the Great Depression, in those dark days of economic crisis never seen before, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps put 3 million people to work on conservation and construction projects in our parks, refuges, and public works around America. Many of those projects were planned and designed in this very building.
When faced with a crisis, Americans always build a path to progress. And we will do the same as we face the economic crisis of today.