By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
U.S. Army veteran and professional trucker Steve Davenport is accustomed to seeing Washington, DC, from the seat of his motorcycle each time he makes an annual pilgrimage to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Later this month, he will make his 29th trip to The Wall, but in the meantime, he has had some other important business to attend to in the nation’s Capitol.
From left: OOIDA Life Member Steve Davenport of Lewisville, TX; Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari; and OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston at the White House during National Transportation Week, Monday, May 16, 2011. Photo courtesy of the U.S. DOT.
Wearing a suit and tie for the occasion, Davenport, along with OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston, was a guest of the White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a Champions of Change roundtable on Monday, May 16.
Champions of Change is an ongoing series that brings people together from certain fields and industries to talk about innovation, education, and ways to build their industries. Monday’s event was used as a kickoff for National Transportation Week, bringing together 20 people involved in transportation to share ideas.
“It was an incredible experience,” says Davenport. “I was proud to be able to stand with Jim Johnston and be part of the Champions of Change. I got to speak my piece and everybody was listening. It makes a person like me feel good.”
Davenport began trucking 43 years ago as a company driver. He joined OOIDA because of the Association’s advocacy for all professional drivers. He has been an owner-operator under his own authority for 10 years.
He said it didn’t take long for Johnston to initiate a conversation about trucking among the group that included railways, airlines and infrastructure builders.
“The conversation was lively, constructive and educational to me. I’m just amazed to be in a situation to be in a meeting like that,” Davenport said.
Bryna Helfer, director of public engagement for the U.S. DOT, had good things to say about bringing people together to talk transportation.
“It was great having them,” she said. “I really appreciate them being here.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood highlighted the Champions of Change and National Transportation Week on his blog. The guests will also be featured on the White House Champions of Change website in a few days, Helfer said.
And come Memorial Day, Davenport will be ready to trade in his suit and tie for the roar of the Rolling Thunder and a POW/MIA placard for the annual services at The Wall.
“I have participated at The Wall from the day it was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1982,” Davenport said. “This is my 29th year and I’ve never missed. I don’t miss it.”
Davenport served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971 and in the Reserves until 1975.
He owns and operates one truck and recently attended his first meeting as an alternate member of the OOIDA Board of Directors.
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