Inspirational Achievement of the Panama Canal

T3 on the Inspirational Achievement of the Panama Canal

I normally write about motivational leaders whose “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” serve as an inspiration to others.  Sometimes the focus on just one person isn’t enough to accurately portray the magnitude of contributions from so many over a sustained period of time.  In such circumstances it’s appropriate to highlight the accomplishment itself T3 worthy.
That’s the case with the Panama Canal.  I’m partial to this marvel because I transited through it in 1984 aboard the U.S. Navy’s Battleship USS IOWA (BB 61)!  One of the eight engineering “Wonders of the Modern World,” the Canal opened this month in 1914.  The T3 build included:
  • TEAMWORK: Contributions from tens of thousands of engineers, laborers, logisticians and medical professionals.  Two of the most famous included the principal engineer, Army General George Goethals (namesake for the bridge connecting New Jersey to Staten Island) and General (Doctor) William Gorgas (his abatement of Yellow Fever and Malaria saved countless lives … he later became Surgeon General of the Army and President of the American Medical Association).
  • TONE:  President Teddy Roosevelt created a culture of national-level support and focus on this incredible undertaking through his words and actions: “No great material work is of such consequence to the American people,” he emphatically stated.  TR even visited the construction site where he famously operated a steam shovel!
  • TENACITY: During a 10-year effort, thousands of souls were lost to disease and disaster.  Three main challenges to the effort (at the peak of the construction, 25,000 men removed a million cubic yards of material per day) were engineering, sanitation and organization.  Through it all, a sustained perseverance with purpose drove the project to completion two years early and millions of dollars under budget!
The three key results of the Panama Canal:
1. Expansion of U.S. commerce
2. Faster worldwide Lines of Communication
3. Increased national security with the ability to quickly transfer Navy ships between East and West coasts.
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