Secretary Ray LaHood
--Remarks as Prepared--
Arab American Institute Foundation
Presentation of 2011 Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards
Good evening. Thank you for the introduction and warm welcome.
We gather tonight to honor the legacy of Khalil Gibran, who reminds us still that “work is love made visible.” And few people have embodied this ideal better than Najeeb Halaby, whose life’s work was love of America as John F. Kennedy’s leader of the Federal Aviation Administration; as one of the most important early advocates for a federal department of transportation in the 1960s; as CEO and Chairman of Pan Am Airlines; and as a symbol of our nation’s promise: the idea that no matter where your family came from, we are one people – and that with the privileges of citizenship come the obligations of service.
Three years ago, I was deeply honored to receive the Najeeb Halaby Award, a source of great pride for me. Little did I know that President Obama would invite me to serve as secretary of the department that Administrator Halaby helped envision and bring to life.
So, tonight, I feel all the more privileged to present this distinguished award to a dear friend and great leader. I’ve known Mitch Daniels for a very long time, when he was chief of staff to Senator Richard Lugar, chief political advisor to President Ronald Reagan, a senior leader at Eli Lilly and Company, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush. And let’s just say that all of us in President Obama’s administration are familiar with him, today, as Indiana’s outstanding governor.
Governor Daniels is an extraordinary public servant. His decades of work in government reflect his unwavering integrity; his creative approach to problem-solving; his willingness to compromise and find common ground when possible; and his all-too-rare ability to disagree without being disagreeable when necessary.
More importantly still, Mitch is a great husband to Cheri – and a wonderful father to Meagan, Melissa, Meredith, and Margaret. Whatever he decides to do, I know that Mitch will put what’s best for them first.
“Work is love made visible,” Khalil Gibran wrote. Nobody works harder, cherishes his Syrian heritage more proudly, or serves this country with greater devotion than Mitch Daniels. Governor, please come accept the Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service. Congratulations.