Statements and Speeches
Jun 18 2009
Mr. President, I rise today to congratulate the National Archives and Records Administration on the momentous occasion of its 75th anniversary.
As custodians of some of America’s most precious records and documents, I want to thank the dedicated men and women who work so diligently to preserve our nation’s history for future generations.
Established by Congress to be the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives have the critical mission of storing and protecting our most valuable and important documents. In fact, the main Archives facility located just a few blocks from here down Pennsylvania Avenue is the permanent home of the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Thomas Jefferson once said that an educated citizenry will ensure a free society. Unhindered access to information about our government and leaders is truly critical to the continued health and vibrancy of our democracy.
That’s why I’m pleased to hear that more than one million visitors travel to the National Archives each year to see thousands of documents, records and special exhibits. It’s no stretch to say that the National Archives is one of the most popular agencies in the United States Government.
But the Archives isn’t just a tourist attraction.
Over the years, the Archives has become an international leader in developing an Electronic Records Archiving system that will preserve digital information in any format – not just for a few years, but forever.
Information technology has forever altered our ability to create, access and search information from any location in the world.
Every year, billions of documents that shape and inform government decisions are never written down with pen and paper. Instead, these records are “born digital.” That means they are created electronically and are stored not in a filing cabinet, but on computers and on the Internet.
Each year the Archives preserves more and more information that is essential to understanding our democracy, history and culture.
To put it into perspective, it took eight C-5 military cargo planes to transport all of the paper materials created by the Clinton Administration. Following the most recent presidential transition, it took 20 tractor-trailers, two Boeing 747s and a DC8 aircraft to transport all of President Bush’s records.
At the same time, the National Archives continues to maintain records from 1775, including the military record of every single veteran in the 20th and 21st centuries. That’s no small task.
So I stand here today to give my thanks to all of the hard-working and dedicated men and women who work and volunteer their time at the National Archives.
Winston Churchill once said, “A nation that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it.” I think that quote truly sums up the important role of the Archives – not just for our history – but for our future.
I ask unanimous consent to include in the record the text of a resolution I will put forward with a number of my colleagues to commend the National Archives and its employees for excellent service over the past 75 years.