Spellings Speaks at Aichi Expo U.S. 'National Day' Festivities

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, remarks at the U.S. Pavillion for the World Expo 2005 in Aichi

June 20, 2005

Thank you. On behalf of President Bush and all the American people, I want to thank you for coming to celebrate U.S. National Day. I want to thank the government of Japan, Mr. Yamamoto, Ambassador Watanabe, Dr. Toyoda, and the Expo Association for their warm welcome.

Let me also thank Ambassadors Thomas Schieffer and Lisa Gable. I also want to introduce the other members of our delegation: baseball Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda and Base Technologies CEO Gary Nakamoto. Most of all, I want to thank the people of Japan for their hospitality. And I hope you all will get the chance to visit America one day.

Almost two years ago, President Bush promised Prime Minister Koizumi that the United States would participate in the Aichi Expo. And it's an honor for me to fulfill that pledge from my president to your prime minister by being here today. It's a sign of just how important the friendship between our two countries is. The bonds that unite us have never been stronger.

Today, we are preparing to celebrate the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin, one of America's Founding Fathers. He was a man of many talents. He was a great patriot, writer, thinker, scientist, philanthropist, and statesman. You might say he was America's first international celebrity.

One of Benjamin Franklin's little known talents is that he was an expert swimmer. He was one of the best of his day, but he dreamed of swimming even faster. He looked to nature for inspiration and came up with the idea of wearing fins on his hands. He might have looked a bit silly, but apparently, they did the trick.

So I can say with great confidence that he would have loved the theme of this expo - nature's wisdom. Like the Japanese people, he believed we had much to learn from the world around us. And he tried to learn all he could from nature?from predicting weather to flying a kite to study lightning and electricity.

Throughout his life, Benjamin Franklin never lost his love for adventure and discovery. His spirit helped define the character of America. He believed the best always lay ahead. And as I think about the incredible potential I see in every child here today, I know he was right.

Our nations both believe in the power of education and the importance of helping our children realize their potential. As the U.S. secretary of education, I am honored to be speaking on a day dedicated to celebrating children. Every nation shares a special commitment to its children because we all know they represent our future. In my country, we are working to provide every single child with a quality education thanks to the historic No Child Left Behind law signed by President Bush in 2002.

And I'm proud that the United States and Japan are working together to promote literacy and learning for children across the world. Education is a basic human right for all the world's peoples. It is the key to spreading the great ideals of hope, optimism, enterprise, and freedom.

These are the values that have defined the American spirit for over two centuries. They were the ideals that inspired our Founding Fathers to build a new nation dedicated to the great principle that all men are created equal. And they are values that I believe our two countries now share. It's an honor to be here today.

Thank you.