may not remember reading about Andrew Higgins in their high school
history books. Young Higgins owned a lumber business in the 1930s, and
eventually worked to establish his own shipyard where he built light,
shallow draft boats out of southern pine and cypress wood. Higgins was
confident in his unique design and just before World War II, Higgins
boldly shared his concept that the United States would benefit from
lighter, personal boats if they ever wanted to effectively invade by
open shore. The U.S. Navy resisted the idea at first, but under looming
circumstances, Higgins’ design eventually won out.
From the humble beginnings of Higgins’ boat company came the LCVP boat,
the landing craft used by Allied soldiers to invade Omaha Beach on D-Day
and now famously pictured in history books across the country. Higgins’
company produced nearly 20,000 boats for the war effort. The boats,
nicknamed “Higgins boats,” gave the military the ability to transport
thousands of soldiers and supplies to the open shore where there was no
established harbor. After the war had ended, President Eisenhower shook
Andrew Higgins hand and called him “the man who won the war for us.” You
see, if it hadn’t been for Higgins’ innovation, our military could not
have landed on an open beach, and the strategy of the war would have
been drastically different.
Time and time again throughout our nation’s history we see examples of
times when American innovation helped us as a nation to reach important
milestones or national challenges. From the Manhattan Project where we
created the atomic bomb, to the Apollo program where we put a man on the
moon, we have constant reminders that Americans respond best to
challenges that seem unattainable. By pure vision and a can-do spirit,
American innovation almost always wins out.
Today, I continue to believe in the American spirit of innovation and
its ability to bring us out of national challenges. We just have to have
a unified goal to work towards. We face an energy challenge that is
arguably one of the biggest issues to face our nation this decade,
perhaps in the next quarter century. Our energy dependence doesn’t just
impact the price at the pump - it impacts our economy at large, our
environment, and our national security. And it will continue to be a
national challenge if we don’t match it with a national-size solution.
About a month ago, I introduced a New Manhattan Project for Energy
Independence, an initiative that bets on American innovation. It lays
out a challenge to the American people to reach 50% energy independence
in 10 years and 100% energy independence in 20 years, and offers prizes
to any individual or entity who can reach one of seven bold energy
goals. No prizes are awarded unless the goals are met, and it relies on
American scientists, researchers and students – not the federal
government – to come up with solutions to our energy challenge. Perhaps
one of the most exciting things about the New Manhattan Project is that
it will energize a whole new generation of young people who will step up
to the plate in field of math and science, ready to tackle one of the
most critical issues to face our nation.
Some may look at our national challenges and ask why we don’t just have
the federal government do it all. Unfortunately, the federal government
doesn’t have a very good track record in innovative solutions that work.
We shouldn’t put our entire energy future in the hands of the
bureaucrats responsible for disaster relief to Hurricane Katrina or who
attempt to control our border. Perhaps it is time to form a larger
partnership and put both government and the private sector to work
building our energy future and bringing America’s competitiveness back
where it belongs.
When we trust Americans to do what they do best - create new and
imaginative ways to address our national challenges - the results are
usually triumphant. Just like with Andrew Higgins and his wooden boats,
sometimes it’s an idea that nobody in Washington thought of that ends up
carrying the day. And maybe one day in our future, our president will
shake the hand of a young innovator and say to that person “so you are
the person who won energy independence for us.” If we don’t give
American innovation a shot, our results may be drastically different.
Traveling Abroad? Use these tips
you are planning on taking a trip abroad this summer, there are a few
things you should do to ensure your family has a relaxing, safe, and
stress-free vacation once overseas. Consider the following tips and information from the State Department before
Register so the State Department can better assist you in an
Register your travel plans with the State Department through a free
online service at
https://travelregistration.state.gov. This will help the State
Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if
there is a crisis where you are traveling.
Sign your passport and fill in the emergency information
Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required.
Fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page
Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page, and visas with
family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage
Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and
if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does
not, consider supplemental insurance.
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime
To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or
jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money (use an ATM card to
withdraw money abroad). Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public
areas and do not accept packages from strangers.
Contact the State Department in an emergency
Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the
U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency
assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and
Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at
http://travel.state.gov. Also note
that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s
Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with
emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or
202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.
Learn everything you can about the country you are visiting
Travelers should familiarize themselves with their destinations, both to
get the most enjoyment out of the visit and to avoid known dangers.
Country specific information, travel warnings and travel alerts are
accessible through the State Department's travel information website at
For more tips and information on traveling abroad, watch a clip from our
The Washington Review.
from the State Department
International travel updates
replace your passport