Legal Buzz May 31, 2012: John Edwards Trial Verdict — Edwards Found Not Guilty on 1 Count, Judge Declares Mistrial on Other 5 Counts in Campaign Contributions Corruption Trial

LEGAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

IN FOCUS: JOHN EDWARDS FOUND NOT GUILTY ON 1 COUNT — JUDGE DECLARES MISTRIAL ON OTHER 5 COUNTS IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS CORRUPTION TRIAL


Travis Dove for The New York Times
John Edwards outside the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., with his daughter Cate on Thursday.

John Edwards Verdict: Not Guilty on 1 Count, Mistrial on 5 Counts

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-31-12

A North Carolina jury found former Sen. John Edwards not guilty Thursday on one of six counts in a campaign-finance trial, and declared itself hopelessly deadlocked on the remaining charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on those counts.

Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate, accused of soliciting nearly $1 million from wealthy backers to finance a cover up of his illicit affair and illegitimate child during his 2008 bid for the White House, was found not guilty on count 3 of the six-part indictment. That count pertained only to whether Edwards illegally received several hundred thousand dollars in donations from wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to cover up the affair in 2008.

Following the verdict, Edwards, who remained silent throughout the trial, gave an emotional speech on the courthouse steps. He acknowledged his moral shortcomings and thanked his children, dramatically pausing when mentioning 4-year-old Frances Quinn, the baby he fathered with his mistress….READ MORE

Edwards not guilty on 1 count; Judge declares mistrial on other 5 counts: John Edwards was found not guilty on one of six campaign fraud charges Thursday, and the jury could not reach a verdict on the other counts, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on them…. – WaPo, 5-31-12

“Thank goodness that we live in a country that has the kind of system that we have.
This is about me. I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice. While I do not believe that I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins.
I am responsible. And if I want to find the person who should be held accountable, honestly, I don’t have to go any further than the mirror. It is me and me alone.” — John Edwards

  • For Edwards, Mistrial on 5 of 6 Counts: The lone verdict in the federal campaign finance case against former Senator John Edwards came on the third count, which involved donations from the heiress Rachel Mellon…. – NYT, 5-31-12
  • Edwards not guilty on 1 count; mistrial declared on other 5 counts: After 9 days of deliberation, a jury has found John Edwards not guilty on one of six charges of campaign finance corruption brought against him…. – CBS News, 5-31-12
  • John Edwards not guilty on one count, jury deadlocks on others: The jury in the trial of John Edwards deadlocked on five counts, leading the judge to declare a mistrial. They reached a not guilty verdict on one of the six counts. The judge excused the jury but asked to speak again with attorneys…. – Politico, 5-31-12
  • John Edwards not guilty on 1 count, mistrial declared in other 5: Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was found not guilty Thursday on one of the six counts of campaign finance fraud against him. The jury deadlocked on the other counts, and the judge declared a mistrial…. – LAT, 5-31-12
  • John Edwards acquitted on one count as jury deadlocks on five others and judge declares mistrial: Johnny Reid Edwards, a honey-voiced North Carolina lawyer who parlayed his boyish good looks and inspiring personal history as the son of a mill-worker into a meteoric political rise, was acquitted of one count Thursday in a corruption…. – WaPo, 5-31-12
  • John Edwards whispers to parents, ‘I told you this would be OK’ after mistrial: The jury in the John Edwards campaign corruption trial has found him not guilty on one count and told the judge it could not reach a verdict on the other five counts, it told the court Thursday. Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on those five counts…. – NBC17.com, 5-31-12
  • John Edwards walks free after chaotic end to corruption trial: John Edwards, the former vice-presidential candidate who wrecked his political career with an extramarital affair, walked free from court on Thursday after a chaotic end to a month-long trial for using campaign funds to cover up his infidelity…. – The Guardian, 5-31-12

Political Buzz May 31, 2012: President George W. Bush Returns to White House for Portrait Unveiling — Barack Obama Hosts his ‘Predecessor’

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

HONORING THE BUSH PRESIDENCY:

Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
George W. Bush stood next to his official portrait during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH RETURNS TO WHITE HOUSE FOR PORTRAIT UNVEILING — OBAMA HOSTS HIS ‘PREDECESSOR’

A Gracious and Civil Prelude to a Hanging: President Obama put partisanship aside for a few hours to pay tribute to his predecessor at the official unveiling of George W. Bush’s official White House portrait…. – NYT, 5-31-12

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss: “It’s wonderful to see because so often in American history, you had presidents hiding the portraits of predecessors they didn’t like. In recent years, instead, this has become a rare presidential ritual of national bipartisanship.”

  • Presidential portraits: Bushes, Obamas share rare moment of warmth: Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush returned to the White House on Thursday for a rare shared moment with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
    The occasion was the unveiling of the Bushes’ official portraits, a 50-year old tradition that brings together past and current presidents in the East Room every four to eight years. For the Bushes and the Obama, it was an occasion for humor, graciousness, emotion and warmth…. – Politico, 5-31-12
  • Bush, Obama on stage together share laughs: President Barack Obama shared the stage with former President George W. Bush, the predecessor he often inveighs against, in a friendly White House welcome for the unveiling of the 43rd president’s official portrait…. – Boston.com, 5-31-12
  • George W. Bush’s White House portrait unveiled in ceremony with Obama: President George W. Bush and Laura Bush were back in Washington on Thursday for the unveiling of the portraits of the former first couple that will hang at the White House. They were joined by President Obama and the former chief….. – LAT, 5-31-12
  • Bush thanks Obama for inviting his “rowdy friends” to portrait hanging: Former President George W. Bush brought a light-hearted tone to the unveiling of his official White House portrait on Thursday, winning over an audience of friends, family and former colleagues with jokes.
    Standing beside his portrait after its unveiling in the White House East Room, Mr. Bush chided the cheering audience to quiet down and thanked President Obama “for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging.”… – CBS News, 5-31-12
  • Obama praises predecessor as George W. Bush portrait unveiled: In a rare public tribute to his predecessor, President Obama unveiled the formal White House portrait of George W. Bush on Thursday, praising his “strength and resolve” after the9/11 terrorist attacks. LAT, 5-31-12
  • George W. Bush presidential portrait is unveiled. Who paid for it?: Though no longer the ‘haphazard affair’ it once was, the process of creating a presidential portrait like George W. Bush’s is not an easy process. But taxpayers don’t pick up the tab…. – CS Monitor, 5-31-12
  • Bush is back: Portrait event stirs up odd politics: President Barack Obama is welcoming his favorite foil, former President George W. Bush, back to the White House on Thursday for the official unveiling of Bush’s portrait…. – AP, 5-31-12
  • Barack Obama to host George W. Bush at White House: President Barack Obama has made him a foil for more than three years, the man he blames for the “mess” he inherited of an economy in free fall and wars gone astray. But it will be smiles and handshakes…. – McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 5-30-12
  • Obama to pause, salute Bush for a day: President Obama will preside over the unveiling of the official portraits of President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush in a White House celebration…. – The Seattle Times, 5-30-12
  • Odd politics, but tradition: Bush back at White House for portrait unveiling: President Barack Obama frequently bad-mouths George W. Bush’s record as a disaster. So here comes the odd part: Obama is about to proudly preside as Bush’s image and legacy are enshrined at the White House forever…. – WaPo, 5-31-12

Obama Welcomes George W. Bush Back to the White House

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-31-12

Despite frequently blaming his predecessor for the “messes” he inherited, President Obama on Thursday will welcome former President George W. Bush back to the White House to honor his legacy.

The 43rd president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, will be back at their former home for the official unveiling of their portraits, an often uncomfortable presidential tradition.

The White House maintained Wednesday that Obama is looking forward to the event and that it’s “not at all” awkward.

“Look, there are differences… without question, between [President Obama's] approach and the approach and the policies of his predecessor,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.  “That was certainly the case when, I believe, President George W. Bush had President Clinton to the White House for his portrait unveiling.  And I think it is well-established that those two now-former presidents have a good relationship…. I think there is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences.”…READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush at the Official Portrait Unveiling

East Room

1:31 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you, Fred, for that introduction.  To President George H. W. Bush and Barbara, to all the members of the Bush family who are here — it is a great privilege to have you here today.  And to President and Mrs. Bush, welcome back to the house that you called home for eight years.

The White House is many things at once.  It’s a working office, it’s a living museum, it’s an enduring symbol of our democracy.  But at the end of the day, when the visitors go home and the lights go down, a few of us are blessed with the tremendous honor to actually live here.

I think it’s fair to say that every President is acutely aware that we are just temporary residents — we’re renters here.  We’re charged with the upkeep until our lease runs out.  But we also leave a piece of ourselves in this place.  And today, with the unveiling of the portraits next to me, President and Mrs. Bush will take their place alongside men and women who built this country and those who worked to perfect it.

It’s been said that no one can ever truly understand what it’s like being President until they sit behind that desk and feel the weight and responsibility for the first time.  And that is true.  After three and a half years in office — and much more gray hair — (laughter) — I have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the Presidents who came before me, including my immediate predecessor, President Bush.

In this job, no decision that reaches your desk is easy.  No choice you make is without costs.  No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to make everybody happy.  I think that’s something President Bush and I both learned pretty quickly.  (Laughter.)

And that’s why, from time to time, those of us who have had the privilege to hold this office find ourselves turning to the only people on Earth who know the feeling.  We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences.  We all love this country.  We all want America to succeed.  We all believe that when it comes to moving this country forward, we have an obligation to pull together.  And we all follow the humble, heroic example of our first President, George Washington, who knew that a true test of patriotism is the willingness to freely and graciously pass the reins of power on to somebody else.

That’s certainly been true of President Bush.  The months before I took the oath of office were a chaotic time.  We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn’t know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been.  And still, over those two and a half months — in the midst of that crisis — President Bush, his Cabinet, his staff, many of you who are here today, went out of your ways — George, you went out of your way — to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible.

President Bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a Democratic or a Republican issue; it was a American priority.  I’ll always be grateful for that.

The same is true for our national security.  None of us will ever forget where we were on that terrible September day when our country was attacked.  All of us will always remember the image of President Bush standing on that pile of rubble, bullhorn in hand, conveying extraordinary strength and resolve to the American people but also representing the strength and resolve of the American people.

And last year, when we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, I made it clear that our success was due to many people in many organizations working together over many years — across two administrations.  That’s why my first call once American forces were safely out of harm’s way was to President Bush.  Because protecting our country is neither the work of one person, nor the task of one period of time, it’s an ongoing obligation that we all share.

Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I are grateful to the entire Bush family for their guidance and their example during our own transition.

George, I will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former Presidents before I took office, your kind words of encouragement.  Plus, you also left me a really good TV sports package.  (Laughter.)  I use it.  (Laughter.)

Laura, you reminded us that the most rewarding thing about living in this house isn’t the title or the power, but the chance to shine a spotlight on the issues that matter most.  And the fact that you and George raised two smart, beautiful daughters — first, as girls visiting their grandparents and then as teenagers preparing to head out into the world — that obviously gives Michelle and I tremendous hope as we try to do the right thing by our own daughters in this slightly odd atmosphere that we’ve created.

Jenna and Barbara, we will never forget the advice you gave Sasha and Malia as they began their lives in Washington.  They told them to surround themselves with loyal friends, never stop doing what they love; to slide down the banisters occasionally — (laughter) — to play Sardines on the lawn; to meet new people and try new things; and to try to absorb everything and enjoy all of it.  And I can tell you that Malia and Sasha took that advice to heart.  It really meant a lot to them.

One of the greatest strengths of our democracy is our ability to peacefully, and routinely, go through transitions of power.  It speaks to the fact that we’ve always had leaders who believe in America, and everything it stands for, above all else — leaders and their families who are willing to devote their lives to the country that they love.

This is what we’ll think about every time we pass these portraits — just as millions of other visitors will do in the decades, and perhaps even the centuries to come.  I want to thank John Howard Sanden, the artist behind these beautiful works, for his efforts.  And on behalf of the American people, I want to thank most sincerely President and Mrs. Bush for their extraordinary service to our country.

And now I’d like to invite them on stage to take part in the presentation.  (Applause.)

(Portraits are unveiled.)

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Thank you, sit down.  Sit down.  Behave yourselves.  (Laughter.)  Mr. President, thank you for your warm hospitality.  Madam First Lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends — (laughter) — to my hanging.  (Laughter.)

Laura and I are honored to be here.  Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming.  We are overwhelmed by your hospitality.  And thank you for feeding the Bush family, all 14 members of us who are here.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank our girls for coming.  I thank Mom and Dad, brother, sister, in-laws, aunts and uncles.  I appreciate you taking your time.  I know you’re as excited as Laura and me to be able to come back here, and particularly thank the people who helped make this house a home for us for eight years, the White House staff.

I want to thank Fred Ryan and the White House Historical Association and Bill Allman, the White House curator.  I am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection.  It now starts and ends with a George W.  (Laughter and applause.)

When the British burned the White House, as Fred mentioned, in 1814, Dolley Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W.  (Laughter.)  Now, Michelle, if anything happens there’s your man.  (Laughter and applause.)  I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?  (Laughter.)

I am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love — and that would be number 41.  (Applause.)  I want to thank John Howard Sanden for agreeing to use his considerable talents to paint my likeness.  You’ve done a fine job with a challenging subject.  (Laughter.)

In the portrait, there’s a painting by W.H.D. Koerner called, “A Charge to Keep.”  It hung in the Oval Office for eight years of my presidency.  I asked John to include it, because it reminds me of the wonderful people with whom I was privileged to serve.  Whether they served in the Cabinet or on the presidential staff, these men and women — many of whom are here — worked hard and served with honor.  We had a charge to keep and we kept the charge.

It is my privilege to introduce the greatest First Lady ever — sorry, Mom.  (Laughter.)  Would you agree to a tie?  (Laughter.)  A woman who brought such grace and dignity and love in this house.  (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH:  Thank you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, darling.

Thank you, President and Mrs. Obama.  Thank you for your kindness and your consideration today.  It was really gracious of you to invite us back to the White House to hang a few family pictures.  (Laughter.)  And I’m sure you know nothing makes a house a home like having portraits of its former occupants staring down at you from the walls.  (Laughter.)

This is not the first time I’ve had the opportunity to confront an artistic likeness of myself.  A few years ago, just after the 2008 election, a friend sent me something he’d found in the gift shop of the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia.  It was a Laura Bush bobblehead doll.  (Laughter.)  He said he found it on the clearance shelf.  (Laughter.)

But I’m flattered and grateful to know that this particular work has a permanent home.  And thanks to the masterful talent of John Howard Sanden, I like it a whole lot better than I do that bobblehead doll.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, John Howard Sanden — you’re terrific to work with.  And thanks to Elizabeth and your family who have joined you today.  Thank you very, very much, John.  (Applause.)

And, of course, it’s meaningful to me as a private person to know that these portraits will be on view at the White House, that my portrait will hang just down the hall from my mother-in-law, and that George’s portrait will hang very close to his dad’s.  But what’s more meaningful is it’s meaningful to me as a citizen.  This was our family’s home for eight years.  It was our home, but it wasn’t our house.  This house belongs to the people whose portraits will never hang here, the ordinary and not-so-ordinary people whose lives inspired us and whose expectations guided us during the years that we lived here.

In this room are many of the people who stood by us as we faced the tragedy of September 11th, and who worked with us in the years after.  Thanks to each and every one of you for your service to our country.  (Applause.)

I hope others will see in this portrait what I see:  a woman who was honored and humbled to live in the White House during a period of great challenge, and who will never forget the countless American faces who make up the true portrait of that time.

Thank you all very much.  Thanks so much.  And thank you, Michelle, if you want to come up.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, I don’t think we have enough tissue to go around.  (Laughter.)  Jenna and Barbara, they’re just a mess.  (Laughter.)  But I want to thank President and Mrs. Bush for joining us today.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Laura for providing such a wonderful model of strength and grace for me to follow as First Lady.  It is an interesting job, and it’s just been amazing to learn from your example not just as a First Lady, but as a mother of two wonderful daughters.  You’re on the other side of where we hope to be — (laughter) — in a couple of years — two daughters that sit up straight and cry when they’re — (laughter) — and think lovingly about their mom and their dad.  (Laughter.)  We’re working towards that goal, but you’ve done a terrific job.

And I also want to echo Barack.  We couldn’t be more thankful for the warmth and graciousness that both of you showed — all of you showed — our family when we moved in three years ago.  It is truly, truly a privilege for us to occupy this house.  And hopefully, we are setting the same example of warmth and love and hope that you all have provided as well.

The warmth is truly reflected in these portraits, and I promise you — (laughter) — I promise, I’m going straight for — (laughter) — and I’m sure it will be closer right down the stairs, and I’ll get right to it.

So I am thrilled for all of the White House visitors who will soon have the chance to enjoy them as well.  And I’m thrilled for both of you as you join these incredible Americans whose portraits are already displayed here at the White House.

So congratulations again.  Congratulations on the work that you have done, the example that you have provided to this country, and what it means to be an American family.  We are so happy and proud and honored to be a part.

And with that, it is my pleasure to invite you all to join us for a reception right outside in the State Room.  Now it’s time to eat.  (Laughter.)  Thank you all so much.  (Applause.)

END
1:50 P.M. EDT

May 31, 2012

Background Information on the Presentation of Portraits of President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Welch Bush

President George Walker Bush
President George W. Bush is portrayed standing in the center of the Oval Office in the West Wing. His right hand rests on an armchair made for the White House in 1818 by District of Columbia cabinetmaker William King, Jr. A corner of the “Resolute desk,” presented to the White House by Queen Victoria in 1880, can be seen behind the chair. Over his right shoulder hangs a 1929 western painting, A Charge to Keep, by William H. D. Koerner. The President, who had used the same title for his 1999 memoir, often called attention to that painting and its significance.

Mrs. Laura Welch Bush
For the setting of her portrait, First Lady Laura Bush selected the Green Room, as refurbished with her active participation in 2007. Wearing a midnight blue gown, she rests her left hand on a lyreback armchair attributed to the famous New York cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe, c.1810. Federal easy chairs, among antique American furniture added to the room in 1971-72, were reupholstered in a rich salmon-colored silk. The 1767 David Martin portrait of Benjamin  Franklin hangs over the neoclassical mantel, acquired for the White House in 1818.

About the Artist
John Howard Sanden, born in 1935 in Austin Texas, now lives in Connecticut and maintains a studio in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Well known for his portraits of leaders of industry and education, he received the first John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists in 1994.

Commissioning
As usual, the White House Historical Association contracted with the artist selected by the subjects and will donate the finished paintings to the White House as a gift of the George B. Hartzog, Jr. White House Acquisition Trust. In 2010, President Bush selected John Howard Sanden to execute his White House portrait.  The success of the sittings and the portrait itself, completed in 2011, led Mrs. Bush to select Sanden for her portrait as well, finished in early 2012.

Political Headlines May 30, 2012: Poland Seeks Stronger Apology After President Barack Obama Misspoke with “Polish Death Camps” Comment at Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Factson File, Inc. in 2011.

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: POLAND SEEKS STRONGER APOLOGY AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA MISSPOKE WITH ‘POLISH DEATH CAMPS’ COMMENT

White House Says President Misspoke on ‘Polish Death Camp’: The explanation by the White House does not seem to satisfy outraged Polish officials…. – NYT, 5-30-12

Q On one other subject. The Polish Prime Minister says he’s not completely satisfied with the White House explanation of the President’s reference to Polish death camps. Does the President have any plans to call Prime Minister Tusk and offer an explanation?

MR. CARNEY: The President misspoke. He was referring to Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland. And as we’ve made clear, we regret the misstatement and that simple misstatement should not at all detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski, and beyond that, all those brave Polish citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny.

On several occasions, including his visit last year to the Warsaw Ghetto memorial, his remarks at the Holocaust Museum just last month, and his video message at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, President Obama has paid tribute to the terrible loss of innocent Poles in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

Again, we regret the misstatement, but that’s what it was. It was a misstatement, and I think it’s important to see this in the context of awarding this medal in honor of the remarkable bravery of Mr. Karski and other brave Polish citizens who stood on the side, as I said, of human dignity in the face of the 20th century’s most terrible tyranny.

  • Polish Leader Attacks Obama for Saying ‘Polish Death Camps’: On May 28 of last year, President Obama stood next to Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland in Warsaw and declared he would support new rules to help more Poles get tourist visas to the United States…. – NYT, 5-30-12
  • Poland seeking stronger apology after Obama’s ‘death camps’ remark: The Polish prime minister is demanding a “stronger, more pointed response” from President Obama after he referred to “Polish death camps” during a White House ceremony Tuesday. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Wednesday…. – LAT, 5-30-12
  • Poles outraged over Obama’s words on death camps: Poland’s leaders said Wednesday they weren’t completely satisfied with a White House explanation that President Barack Obama misspoke when he referred to “Polish death camps”…. – AP, 5-30-12
  • ‘US apology for ‘death camp’ remarks insufficient’: Embassy spokesman ‘surprised’ that US leader would misidentify Nazi camps as ‘Polish’ in speech honoring resistance fighter Jan Karski… US President Barack Obama’s use of the term “Polish death camps”… – JPost, 5-30-12
  • White House: Obama regrets calling Nazi death camps in Poland, Polish: The White House said President Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Polish war hero. The president’s remark had drawn immediate complaints from Poles who said Obama should have called it…. – CBS News, 5-31-12 
  • Poland seeking stronger apology after Obama’s ‘death camps’ remark: The Polish prime minister is demanding a “stronger, more pointed response” from President Obama after he referred to “Polish death camps” during a White House ceremony Tuesday. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Wednesday…. – LAT, 5-30-12
  • White House: Obama misspoke by referring to ‘Polish death camp’: The White House said President Barack Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Polish war hero. The president’s remark had drawn immediate complaints from Poles who said Obama should have called … WaPo, 5-29-12
  • Poles angered by Obama’s words on ‘Polish death camps’: Poles are expressing outrage at President Barack Obama for referring to “Polish death camps” during a ceremony honoring a World War II hero but some say they hope the blunder will help clarify the sensitive issue to the world…. – WaPo, 5-30-12
  • Obama attracts criticism over ‘Polish death camp’ gaffe: US President Barack Obama referred to a “Polish death camp” on Tuesday during a ceremony at the White House while awarding the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish war hero. A White House spokesman said the president “misspoke”….. – BBC News, 5-30-12
  • White House apologises after Obama ‘Polish death camp’ blunder: The White House’s National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor has said “the president misspoke” after Barack Obama mentioned “Polish death camps” while posthumously awarding Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter during World War II…. thenews.pl, 5-30-12
  • Get your words right: President Obama’s ugly gaffe Tuesday has Poland’s media and politicians in a tizzy. It’s no wonder, Poles don’t like being held responsible for Nazi crimes, and terms such as “Polish death camp” risk doing just that. The matter isn’t trivial. Warsaw Business Journal, 5-30-12
  • Polish PM blasts Barack Obama’s death camp statement for its ‘ignorance, lack knowledge bad intentions: America’s liberal ‘mainstream’ media has largely ignored the diplomatic firestorm which has resulted from Barack Obama’s reference to a “Polish death camp” at a White House awards ceremony yesterday…. – Telegraph.co.uk, 5-30-12
  • Poles outraged by Obama’s reference to ‘Polish death camp’: President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to former Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld who is accepting for Jan Karski, a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, during a ceremony in the East Room…. Chicago Sun-Times, 5-30-12
  • President Obama’s Medal for Karski Shines Light on Poland’s Real World War II: President Obama’s Presidential Medal of Freedom for Jan Karski shows how far Poles went to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. After escaping Soviet imprisonment and being savagely tortured by the Gestapo, Karski still risked his life to sneak past…. – Huff Post, 5-29-12

Full Text Obama Presidency May 30, 2012: President Barack Obama Signs Renewal of the Export-Import Bank — Speech Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY
& THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

President Obama Signs Renewal of the Export-Import Bank

Source: WH, 5-30-12

President Barack Obama signs the Export-Import Bill (May 30, 2012)
President Barack Obama signs the Export-Import Bill during a ceremony in South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, May 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Through the course of the past twelve months, U.S. companies exported $2.15 trillion worth of goods.

That figure breaks a record — it’s a 36 percent increase from the level of exports in 2009, and in fact, it’s the most we’ve ever exported in one, 12-month period. Some 9.7 million people went to work because of these exports — which is itself an increase of 1.2 million export-related jobs since 2009.

And part of the reason for that success has been the Export-Import Bank. The Bank, which is 78 years old, offers assistance to companies around the world that buy American products — in order to help boost the sale of those goods.

The Bank’s charter was set to expire at the end of the month, but with a bipartisan agreement from Congress, the President was able to extend the Bank’s mandate through September of 2014.

“By reauthorizing support for the Export-Import Bank, we’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas,” the President said. “And in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home.”

Remarks by the President at Export-Import Bank Bill Signing

Source: WH, 5-30-12

South Court Auditorium

11:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  I want to begin by recognizing the members of Congress who are here today.  All of them did outstanding work on this legislation.  In particular, I want to thank Steny Hoyer, Congresswoman Maloney, as well as Congressman Miller, who helped to make this day possible.  Their leadership, their hard work made this bill a reality.

We’ve talked a lot recently about the fundamental choice that we face as a country.  America can either settle for an economy where just a few are doing well and a lot of folks are struggling to get by.  Or we can build the kind of economy where everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

And part of building that broad-based economy with a strong middle class is making sure that we’re not just known as a nation that consumes.  We’ve got to be a nation that produces, a nation that sells.  Our middle class was created by workers who made and sold the best products in the world.  Our communities and our economy have always done better when we shipped more goods than anybody else, stamped with that phrase:  “Made in America.”  And I want us to be that nation again.  I want us to be that nation in perpetuity.

Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling American exports over five years.  Today, with the trade agreements that we’ve signed into law, with the help of some of these same members of Congress, we’re making historic progress.  Soon, there are going to be millions of new customers for our goods and services in Korea, in Colombia and Panama.  That way, even though we got some Hyundais over here, we’re also going to have some Chryslers and Fords and Chevys in Seoul that are imported from Detroit and Toledo and Chicago.

So I’m going to go anywhere I can in the world to create new markets for American goods.  And we’re also not going to stand by when our competitors aren’t following the rules.  We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate of the previous administration.  We’ve set up a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade practices that are taking place anyplace — anywhere in the world.  Anytime other countries skirt the rules or put our workers and our businesses in an unfair position, we’re going to take action.

We’re also making sure that American businesses have better access to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live beyond our shores.  And that’s why the bipartisan bill that I’m about to sign is so important.  By reauthorizing support for the Export-Import Bank, we’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas and, in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home.  And we’re doing that at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Over the past few years, I’ve met with a lot of business leaders and a lot of workers across America, from companies like Boeing to Dow Chemical to smaller companies that are also interested in accessing foreign markets.  And they’ve told me how critical support from the Ex-Im Bank has been in competing more effectively in the global marketplace.  As the head of the bank, we owe our thanks to Fred Hochberg, who is here on stage, for doing such an outstanding job.

Just to give you a couple of examples, Boeing relied on support from the Ex-Im Bank to strike a deal selling more than 200 planes to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world.  And that translates into thousands of jobs here in the United States.  As long as our global competitors are providing financing for their exports, we’ve got to do the same.  So I’m glad that Congress got this done.  I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first.

Now we’ve got to do more.  Obviously, the world economy is still in a delicate place because of what’s going on in Europe and the fact that some of the emerging countries have been slowing down.  It is absolutely critical for us to make sure that we are full speed ahead.

I’ve been traveling around the country talking about a “To-Do” list for Congress with some commonsense ideas that historically have had bipartisan support to help continue growth and job creation.  And just like the bill I’m about to sign, those policies can help strengthen the economy and put more folks back to work.  We shouldn’t have to wait until an election to do some of this business.

A couple of points.  Number one, it still makes no sense for us to be giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs and factories overseas.  The great news is there are a lot of companies that are now thinking about insourcing and moving jobs back to the United States.  We are more competitive than ever.  Our workers are more productive than ever.  We want to help provide incentives for folks to make those decisions.  So it’s time for Congress to take tax breaks away that allow for deductions moving jobs overseas and instead cover moving expenses for companies that are interested in bringing jobs back to America.

Number two, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  We’re starting to see a little bit of stabilizing in some of the housing markets around the country, but that continues to be a significant drag on our economy.  But when families are able to take advantage of these historically low rates, it makes a difference.  It puts money in their pockets or it may help them rebuild some of their equity.  It gives them more confidence and the housing market stabilizes further.

We’ve done everything that we can do administratively to help some portion of homeowners around the country refinance.  But every responsible homeowner in America should have a chance to save money.  That’s not just good, by the way, for the housing industry, that’s good for all businesses, because it means consumers are going to be out there with a little extra money in their pockets.

Number three, Congress still has the opportunity to do more to help small business owners who create most of the new jobs in America.  So we want to give them a tax break for hiring more workers and providing those workers higher wages.

Fourth, Congress should extend the tax credits for clean energy companies that are set to expire at the end of the year.  This is something that a lot of members, both Democrats and Republicans, should be able to appreciate, because wind power, solar power, biofuels — those aren’t partisan issues — that’s a job sector that is growing across the country.  But right now, there is too much uncertainty because we haven’t gone ahead and locked down some of these tax credits.

These companies are putting folks back to work and they’re helping us break our dependence on foreign oil.  There are members, again, of both parties that support these tax credits.  And tens of thousands of jobs are at stake.  So I think it’s very important for us to make sure that we move forward on that.

Fifth — and I’m going to speak to this on Friday — Congress should create a Veterans Job Corps so we can put our returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters and park rangers.  We just observed Memorial Day, an extraordinarily moving Memorial Day — we were down at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorating 50 years since that difficult and challenging war.  And one thing we learned from that was that we’ve got to treat our heroes with the respect and dignity that they have earned.

And our veterans are some of the most highly-trained, highly-educated, highly-skilled workers we’ve got.  These are Americans who want to keep serving now that they’re back.  So we’ve got to make sure when they come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities.  So there are a number of things that my administration can do on our own and we’re going to keep on doing them, but it gets a whole lot easier if we get some help from Congress.  And this is a great example, a great model of what can happen.

America has come through some tough times together, and it’s going to take more time than any of us would like to get to a place where all of us have fully recovered from the worst recession in our lives.  There will continue to be hurdles and there will continue to be some headwinds that we can’t fully control, but there are plenty of things we can control.  And there are plenty of solutions within our reach.  There are steps that we can take right now to speed up this recovery, to help create jobs, to restore some of the financial security that families have lost.  It’s within our control to do the right thing and do it now.

So my message to Congress is thank you and congratulations on authorizing Ex-Im Bank to continue on its extraordinary mission.  We’ve got more work to do.  I hope this ends up being a model for the kind of progress that we can make in the months to come and the years to come.  So with that, it is my great pleasure to sign this bill into law.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
11:48 A.M. EDT

There are 5 versions of Bill Number H.R.2072 for the 112th Congress. Usually, the last item is the most recent.

1 . Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011 (Introduced in House – IH)[H.R.2072.IH][PDF]
2 . Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011 (Reported in House – RH)[H.R.2072.RH][PDF]
3 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Engrossed in House [Passed House] – EH)[H.R.2072.EH][PDF]
4 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Placed on Calendar Senate – PCS)[H.R.2072.PCS][PDF]
5 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – ENR)[H.R.2072.ENR][PDF]

For Immediate Release
May 30, 2012

FACT SHEET: President Obama to Sign the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012

Source: WH, 5-30-12

Will Extend the Bank’s Authority Through 2014 and Increase Its Portfolio Cap to $140 Billion to Help U.S. Businesses Sell Their Products and Services Around the World

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will sign the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012, a bipartisan bill that will reauthorize the Bank to continue financing U.S. exports, and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses, at no cost to American taxpayers.

The President believes that a critical component of building stronger and more durable domestic economic growth is ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses can compete successfully in global markets.  Doing so requires promoting U.S. export of goods and services overseas, which is why the President launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years while supporting two million new export-related jobs.  This legislation will allow the Export-Import Bank to continue financing U.S. exports to meet global competition.

America continues to make historic progress under the NEI, despite challenges in the global economy.  U.S. exports over the past 12 months are higher than any previous 12-month period in history, reaching $2.15 trillion, over 36% above the level of exports in 2009.  This record-breaking level of exports supported 9.7 million exports-related jobs in 2011, an increase of 1.2 million exports-related jobs since 2009.

The Export-Import Bank is playing an important role in contributing to this progress.  Last year, the Bank set export finance records for the third straight year. Overall authorizations hit $32.7 billion, supporting $40 billion in export sales and 290,000 American jobs at more than 3,600 U.S. companies.  More than 85% of these transactions were for small businesses.  The Bank is on track to meet the growing demand for export financing this fiscal year, as well, and small business transactions currently account for more than 22% of the Bank’s overall authorizations.

As we create export opportunities for our businesses and workers, the President will continue to ensure that U.S. exporters have a level global playing field on which to compete.  The U.S. will pursue its longstanding goal of minimizing trade-distorting financing of exports from our global competitors.  However, as long as our global competitors provide official export financing, America will do the same.

Under the NEI, the Administration has been working tirelessly on behalf of U.S. exporters since day one.  Through the direct counseling of more than 12,000 U.S. companies, federal trade agencies have supported nearly $140 billion in U.S. exports, and through the recent launch of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, the President has brought an unprecedented level of focus and cooperation around investigating unfair trade practices around the world.  The Administration has also worked to expand access to overseas markets for U.S. exporters by resolving outstanding issues with pending trade agreements, negotiating new market access, and deepening engagement in major emerging markets, such as the Free Trade Agreements the President signed with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

Key Elements of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012

The reauthorization legislation includes the following provisions:

  • Extending the Bank’s Authority: The Bank’s authority to approve new export financing is extended to September 30, 2014.
  • Increasing the Bank’s Portfolio Limit:  The Bank’s financing authority is increased immediately to $120 billion and will be further stepped up to $140 billion, while requiring the Bank to submit a business plan and maintain a low default rate.
  • Focusing the Bank’s Mission:  The Bank will provide additional information on its business planning, default rates, and its support for small business and the U.S. textile industry.  In addition, the GAO will evaluate the role of the Bank in the world economy, the Bank’s risk management, and its underwriting and fraud prevention procedures.
  • Enhancing Transparency:  The Bank will provide the public with an opportunity to comment on transactions of more than $100 million through Federal Register notification.
  • Updating Technology:  The Bank is given authority to use part of its fee income to update its information technology systems.
  • Reviewing Existing Policies:  The Bank will conduct reviews of its economic impact procedures and domestic content policies.

Campaign Headlines May 30, 2012: President Obama Calls Congratulating Mitt Romney on Securing the GOP / Republican Presidential Nomination

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS TO CONGRATULATE MITT ROMNEY ON SECURING GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION

  • President Obama has called Mitt Romney to congratulate him on securing the GOP presidential nomination: President Obama has called Mitt Romney to congratulate him on securing the GOP nomination… – WaPo, 5-30-12
  • Obama calls Romney: Game on, Mitt. President Obama called November foe Mitt Romney Wednesday to congratulate him on officially clinching the Republican presidential nomination…. – New York Daily News, 5-30-12
  • Obama calls to congratulate Romney: What would you say to the man trying to force you from your job?
    Hours after Mitt Romney officially clinched the Republican presidential nomination with a win in Texas, President Obama telephoned him. But the call was nothing more than formalities to officially extend congratulatory sentiments.
    At approximately 11:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, the president called Romney “to congratulate him on securing the Republican nomination,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt announced in a readout of the call, which was disseminated to reporters.
    “President Obama said that he looked forward to an important and healthy debate about America’s future, and wished Governor Romney and his family well throughout the upcoming campaign.”
    A Romney aide told news outlets the call was brief and cordial…. – Yahoo/ABC News, 5-30-12

Campaign Headlines May 30, 2012: ABC News / Washington Post Poll Romney Rating Rebounds Among Women Voters, Obama’s Personal Popularity Rating Slips

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Poll: Romney Rebounds Among Women, Obama’s Favorability Slips

Source: ABC News, 5-30-12

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images

POLL ANALYSIS

A sharp advance among women has boosted Mitt Romney to his highest favorability rating of the presidential campaign – albeit still an unusually weak one – while Barack Obama’s personal popularity has slipped in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Obama still beats Romney in favorable ratings overall, by an 11-point margin, 52 vs. 41 percent. But that’s down from 21 points last month, giving Romney the better trajectory. And both get only even divisions among registered voters, marking the closeness of the race between them.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

This survey comes after a period in which Romney’s chief GOP competitors withdrew from the Republican race and lined up behind his candidacy. Romney clinched his party’s nomination in Texas on Tuesday night….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines May 29, 2012: Texas GOP / Repubublican Senate Seat Nomination Heads for Runoff Between Tea Party Fav Ted Cruz & Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: RUNOFF FOR TEXAS GOP / REPUBLICAN SENATE SEAT NOMINATION BETWEEN TED CRUZ & LT GOV. DAVID DEWHURST

  • Texas Race For Senate May Head For Runoff: Raphael “Ted” Cruz, a Houston lawyer and tea party favorite, appeared headed for a runoff against a better-known candidate in the Texas Republican Senate primary, the latest strong showing by an insurgent hopeful…. – WSJ, 5-30-12
  • In Texas, GOP Senate race heads to a runoff: Ted Cruz, a Tea Party-backed Republican lawyer, will go head-to-head with Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in a runoff contest for the state’s Republican Senate nomination. Dewhurst, the long-standing favorite for the nomination…. – CBS News, 5-30-12
  • Texas Runoff Set in GOP Race for Senate: In a heated race for the open United States Senate seat in Texas, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst failed to win enough votes in the Republican primary on Tuesday to avert a runoff with Ted Cruz, a Houston lawyer who cast the election as a battle…. – NYT, 5-30-12
  • Ted Cruz and the tea party vying for Texas Senate seat: Tea partyers riding high off of their successful efforts to further shake up the Republican establishment in Nebraska and Indiana have turned their eyes to Texas, where challenger Ted Cruz has a chance to at least force another vote in … LAT, 5-30-12
  • Tea party drools over Ted Cruz, but can he survive Texas primary?: Ted Cruz is running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Huchinson, and in many ways he’s the ideal tea party candidate. But his best hope Tuesday is to force a runoff…. – CS Monitor, 5-30-12
  • Texas Voters Set Dewhurst-Cruz Republican Senate Runoff: Republican Ted Cruz, a newcomer backed by Tea Party activists, threatened to make Texas the latest state where insurgents have upset established political leaders in US congressional races. Cruz, 41, forced three-term Republican Lieutenant Governor…. Bloomberg, 5-30-12
  • Dewhurst encourages supporters before July runoff: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is telling supporters that if they like the job he’s done in Austin as lieutenant governor, they would love the job he’d do as a senator in Washington. Dewhurst spoke to supporters Tuesday night in Houston…. – AP, 5-30-12
  • AP declares runoff for Dewhurst and Cruz: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and tea party backed former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz are heading to a runoff in the state’s Republican primary for US Senate. The race had been fierce, with brutal attacks from all sides…. – Houston Chronicle, 5-30-12
  • Senate Hopefuls Spar in Texas: Raphael “Ted” Cruz wants voters to see him as a warrior for conservative causes. In an hour’s conversation, he uses the word “fight” 24 times. Propping his black cowboy boots on an ottoman, he lays out how he would…. WSJ, 5-28-12
  • In Texas race, it’s Tea Party vs. establishment: Hoping to build on momentum from Richard Mourdock’s Tea Party-driven victory over Richard Lugar in the Indiana Senate primary earlier this month, the Tea Party is setting its sights on another possible win Tuesday, this time in Texas…. -CBS News, 5-29-12

Campaign Buzz May 29, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Texas Primary & Clinches GOP / Republcan Presidential Nomination — Gains 1144 Needed Delegates

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

With Texas Win, Romney Clinches the GOP Nomination

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-29-12

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Mitt Romney has clinched the Republican presidential nomination.

It has been projected that Romney has won the Texas GOP primary, and ABC News estimates he will win at least 88 of Texas’s 155 delegates, giving him the 1,144 needed to win the nomination.

Romney now moves on to the general election against President Obama in November. Polls have shown a tight race between the two candidates….READ MORE

Tonight, We Begin The Work Of Restoring Our Country To Greatness

Source: Mitt Romney, 5-29-12

romney-2012-blog-image-mitt-thank-you-america.jpg

I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three and a half years behind us.

I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us. But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity. On November 6, I am confident that we will unite as a country and begin the hard work of fulfilling the American promise and restoring our country to greatness.

IN FOCUS: ROMNEY CLINCHES REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION

Romney clinches Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney has won the Texas primary, securing the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s August convention…. – WaPo, 5-29-12

  • Nomination His, Romney Steps Up Attack on Obama: Mitt Romney, who formally secured the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, is unleashing an offensive to further undermine confidence in President Obama…. – NYT, 5-29-12
  • Romney clinches GOP nomination, focuses ahead: Mitt Romney wins the Texas GOP primary, locking down the party nomination, and he’s already moving on to general-election goals…. – LAT, 5-29-12
  • CBS News: Romney clinches GOP presidential nomination: Updated: 11:45 pm ET (CBS News) Nearly a year after announcing his presidential bid, CBS News estimates that Mitt Romney has earned the necessary delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. With 85 percent of the votes counted…. – CBS News, 5-29-12 Mitt Romney celebrates clinching 1144 delegates: ‘It is a great honor’: Mitt Romney celebrated clinching the GOP presidential nomination Tuesday night, telling donors that he was honored to cross the 1144 delegate threshold, but he predicted a long battle through the fall…. – LAT, 5-29-12 Romney clinches 1144 delegates, but buzz is about Trump: Mitt Romney finally clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, but all the chatter around his campaign was about Donald Trump. By Julie Jacobson, AP Donald Trump greets Mitt Romney during a news conference in … USA Today, 5-29-12 Romney gets Trumped by birther talk: Though the GOP candidate clinched the nomination, Donald Trump’s claims about the President’s statements upstaged the news…. – CS Monitor, 5-29-12
  • Romney clinches GOP nomination, but faces fallout from the primaries: Mitt Romney’s victory in the Texas primary on Tuesday gives him enough delegates to capture the Republican presidential nomination, but he remains some distance from recovering from the damage caused by months of tussling with … LAT, 5-29-12
  • Romney seals the deal in delayed if inconsequential GOP Texas primary: There was no suspense, there was no drama but Texas finally played a bit role in the presidential election Tuesday with a final boost to GOP candidate Mitt Romney, giving him enough delegates for him to secure the GOP presidential nomination… Kansas City Star, 5-29-12
  • Romney clinches GOP nomination for president with win in Texas primary: Mitt Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a win in the Texas primary, a triumph of endurance for a candidate who came up short four years ago and had to fight hard this…. – AP, 5-29-12

Full Text Obama Presidency May 29, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Presidential Medal of Freedom Awards Ceremony

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA HONORS PRESIDENT MEDAL OF FREEDOM RECEIPIENTS IN WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY

Obama to honor Medal of Freedom recipients: President Barack Obama will honor a diverse cross-section of political and cultural icons — including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, astronaut John Glenn, basketball coach Pat Summitt and rock legend Bob Dylan…. – AP, 5-29-12

  • Albright, World War II hero among 13 to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom: The first woman to serve as US Secretary of State and a Polish officer who provided some of the first accounts of the Holocaust are among 13 people who will be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday…. – CNN, 5-30-12

President Obama Awards the Medal of Freedom

Source: WH, 5-29-12

President Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pat Summitt (May 29, 2012)
President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, May 29, 2012. Looking on at left is author Toni Morrison who also received the Medal of Freedom. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama honored 13 Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This year’s recipients include cultural icons like Bob Dylan and Toni Morrison, as well as groundbreaking pioneers like former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Pat Summit, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. Also honored were Dolores Huerta, who cofounded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, and Jan Karski, whose work in the Polish resistance allowed him to share a first-hand account of the Holocaust with Western Allies.

The President said:

Together, the honorees on this stage, and the ones who couldn’t be here, have moved us with their words; they have inspired us with their actions. They’ve enriched our lives and they’ve changed our lives for the better. Some of them are household names; others have labored quietly out of the public eye. Most of them may never fully appreciate the difference they’ve made or the influence that they’ve had, but that’s where our job comes in. It’s our job to help let them know how extraordinary their impact has been on our lives. And so today we present this amazing group with one more accolade for a life well led, and that’s the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Medal of Freedom is highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States. It was established in 1963 by President Kennedy and is presented to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

See the full list of honorees here.

Remarks by the President at Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

* Note – the language in asterisks below is historically inaccurate. It should instead have been: “Nazi death camps in German occupied Poland”. We regret the error.

East Room

3:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat, and welcome to the White House.  It is an extraordinary pleasure to be here with all of you to present this year’s Medals of Freedom.  And I have to say, just looking around the room, this is a packed house, which is a testament to how cool this group is.  (Laughter.)  Everybody wanted to check them out.

This is the highest civilian honor this country can bestow, which is ironic, because nobody sets out to win it.  No one ever picks up a guitar, or fights a disease, or starts a movement, thinking, “You know what, if I keep this up, in 2012, I could get a medal in the White House from a guy named Barack Obama.”  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t in the plan.

But that’s exactly what makes this award so special.  Every one of today’s honorees is blessed with an extraordinary amount of talent.  All of them are driven.  But, yes, we could fill this room many times over with people who are talented and driven.  What sets these men and women apart is the incredible impact they have had on so many people — not in short, blinding bursts, but steadily, over the course of a lifetime.

Together, the honorees on this stage, and the ones who couldn’t be here, have moved us with their words; they have inspired us with their actions.  They’ve enriched our lives and they’ve changed our lives for the better.  Some of them are household names; others have labored quietly out of the public eye.  Most of them may never fully appreciate the difference they’ve made or the influence that they’ve had, but that’s where our job comes in.  It’s our job to help let them know how extraordinary their impact has been on our lives.  And so today we present this amazing group with one more accolade for a life well led, and that’s the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

So I’m going to take an opportunity — I hope you guys don’t mind — to brag about each of you, starting with Madeleine Albright.

Usually, Madeleine does the talking.  (Laughter.)  Once in a while, she lets her jewelry do the talking.  (Laughter.)  When Saddam Hussein called her a “snake,” she wore a serpent on her lapel — (laughter) — the next time she visited Baghdad.  When Slobodan Milosevic referred to her as a “goat,” a new pin appeared in her collection.

As the first woman to serve as America’s top diplomat, Madeleine’s courage and toughness helped bring peace to the Balkans and paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world.  And as an immigrant herself — the granddaughter of Holocaust victims who fled her native Czechoslovakia as a child — Madeleine brought a unique perspective to the job.  This is one of my favorite stories.  Once, at a naturalization ceremony, an Ethiopian man came up to her and said, “Only in America can a refugee meet the Secretary of State.”  And she replied, “Only in America can a refugee become the Secretary of State.”  (Laughter.)  We’re extraordinarily honored to have Madeleine here.  And obviously, I think it’s fair to say I speak for one of your successors who is so appreciative of the work you did and the path that you laid.

It was a scorching hot day in 1963, and Mississippi was on the verge of a massacre.  The funeral procession for Medgar Evers had just disbanded, and a group of marchers was throwing rocks at a line of equally defiant and heavily-armed policemen.  And suddenly, a white man in shirtsleeves, hands raised, walked towards the protestors and talked them into going home peacefully.  And that man was John Doar.  He was the face of the Justice Department in the South.  He was proof that the federal government was listening.  And over the years, John escorted James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.  He walked alongside the Selma-to-Montgomery March.  He laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  In the words of John Lewis, “He gave [civil rights workers] a reason not to give up on those in power.”  And he did it by never giving up on them.  And I think it’s fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work.

Bob Dylan started out singing other people’s songs.  But, as he says, “There came a point where I had to write what I wanted to say, because what I wanted to say, nobody else was writing.”  So born in Hibbing, Minnesota — a town, he says, where “you couldn’t be a rebel — it was too cold” — (laughter) — Bob moved to New York at age 19.  By the time he was 23, Bob’s voice, with its weight, its unique, gravelly power was redefining not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel.  Today, everybody from Bruce Springsteen to U2 owes Bob a debt of gratitude.  There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music.  All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound, still searching for a little bit of truth.  And I have to say that I am a really big fan.  (Laughter.)

In the 1960s, more than 2 million people died from smallpox every year.  Just over a decade later, that number was zero — 2 million to zero, thanks, in part, to Dr. Bill Foege.  As a young medical missionary working in Nigeria, Bill helped develop a vaccination strategy that would later be used to eliminate smallpox from the face of the Earth.  And when that war was won, he moved on to other diseases, always trying to figure out what works.  In one remote Nigerian village, after vaccinating 2,000 people in a single day, Bill asked the local chief how he had gotten so many people to show up.  And the chief explained that he had told everyone to come see — to “come to the village and see the tallest man in the world.”  (Laughter.)  Today, that world owes that really tall man a great debt of gratitude.

On the morning that John Glenn blasted off into space, America stood still.  And for half an hour, the phones stopped ringing in Chicago police headquarters, and New York subway drivers offered a play-by-play account over the loudspeakers.  President Kennedy interrupted a breakfast with congressional leaders and joined 100 million TV viewers to hear the famous words, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”  The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn became a hero in every sense of the word, but he didn’t stop there serving his country.  As a senator, he found new ways to make a difference.  And on his second trip into space at age 77, he defied the odds once again.  But he reminds everybody, don’t tell him he’s lived a historic life.  He says, “Are living.”  He’ll say, “Don’t put it in the past tense.”  He’s still got a lot of stuff going on.

Gordon Hirabayashi knew what it was like to stand alone.  As a student at the University of Washington, Gordon was one of only three Japanese Americans to defy the executive order that forced thousands of families to leave their homes, their jobs, and their civil rights behind and move to internment camps during World War II.  He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, and he lost.  And it would be another 40 years before that decision was reversed, giving Asian Americans everywhere a small measure of justice.  In Gordon’s words, “It takes a crisis to tell us that unless citizens are willing to standup for the [Constitution], it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”  And this country is better off because of citizens like him who are willing to stand up.

Similarly, when Cesar Chavez sat Dolores Huerta down at his kitchen table and told her they should start a union, she thought he was joking.  She was a single mother of seven children, so she obviously didn’t have a lot of free time.  But Dolores had been an elementary school teacher and remembered seeing children come to school hungry and without shoes.  So in the end, she agreed — and workers everywhere are glad that she did.  Without any negotiating experience, Dolores helped lead a worldwide grape boycott that forced growers to agree to some of the country’s first farm worker contracts.  And ever since, she has fought to give more people a seat at the table.  “Don’t wait to be invited,” she says, “Step in there.”  And on a personal note, Dolores was very gracious when I told her I had stolen her slogan, “Si, se puede.”  Yes, we can.  (Laughter.)  Knowing her, I’m pleased that she let me off easy — (laughter) — because Dolores does not play.  (Laughter.)

For years, Jan Karski’s students at Georgetown University knew he was a great professor; what they didn’t realize was he was also a hero.  Fluent in four languages, possessed of a photographic memory, Jan served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II.  Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale, and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a *Polish death camp* to see for himself.  Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.  It was decades before Jan was ready to tell his story.  By then, he said, “I don’t need courage anymore.  So I teach compassion.”

Growing up in Georgia in the late 1800s, Juliette Gordon Low was not exactly typical.  She flew airplanes.  She went swimming.  She experimented with electricity for fun.  (Laughter.)  And she recognized early on that in order to keep up with the changing times, women would have to be prepared.  So at age 52, after meeting the founder of the Boy Scouts in England, Juliette came home and called her cousin and said, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world.  And we’re going to start it tonight!”  A century later, almost 60 million Girl Scouts have gained leadership skills and self-confidence through the organization that she founded.  They include CEOs, astronauts, my own Secretary of State.  And from the very beginning, they have also included girls of different races and faiths and abilities, just the way that Juliette would have wanted it.

Toni Morrison — she is used to a little distraction.  As a single mother working at a publishing company by day, she would carve out a little time in the evening to write, often with her two sons pulling on her hair and tugging at her earrings.  Once, a baby spit up on her tablet so she wrote around it.  (Laughter.)  Circumstances may not have been ideal, but the words that came out were magical.  Toni Morrison’s prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt.  From “Song of Solomon” to “Beloved,” Toni reaches us deeply, using a tone that is lyrical, precise, distinct, and inclusive.  She believes that language “arcs toward the place where meaning might lie.”  The rest of us are lucky to be following along for the ride.

During oral argument, Justice John Paul Stevens often began his line of questioning with a polite, “May I interrupt?” or “May I ask a question?”  You can imagine the lawyers would say, “okay” — (laughter) — after which he would, just as politely, force a lawyer to stop dancing around and focus on the most important issues in the case.  And that was his signature style:  modest, insightful, well-prepared, razor-sharp.  He is the third-longest serving Justice in the history of the Court.  And Justice Stevens applied, throughout his career, his clear and graceful manner to the defense of individual rights and the rule of law, always favoring a pragmatic solution over an ideological one.  Ever humble, he would happily comply when unsuspecting tourists asked him to take their picture in front of the Court.  (Laughter.)  And at his vacation home in Florida, he was John from Arlington, better known for his world-class bridge game than his world-changing judicial opinions.  Even in his final days on the bench, Justice Stevens insisted he was still “learning on the job.”  But in the end, we are the ones who have learned from him.

When a doctor first told Pat Summitt she suffered from dementia, she almost punched him.  When a second doctor advised her to retire, she responded, “Do you know who you’re dealing with here?”  (Laughter.)  Obviously, they did not.  As Pat says, “I can fix a tractor, mow hay, plow a field, chop tobacco, fire a barn, and call the cows.  But what I’m really known for is winning.”  In 38 years at Tennessee, she racked up eight national championships and more than 1,000 wins — understand, this is more than any college coach, male or female, in the history of the NCAA.  And more importantly, every player that went through her program has either graduated or is on her way to a degree.  That’s why anybody who feels sorry for Pat will find themselves on the receiving end of that famous glare, or she might punch you.  (Laughter.)  She’s still getting up every day and doing what she does best, which is teaching.  “The players,” she says, “are my best medicine.”

Our final honoree is not here — Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, who has done more for the cause of peace in the Middle East than just about anybody alive.  I’ll be hosting President Peres for a dinner here at the White House next month, and we’ll be presenting him with his medal and honoring his incredible contributions to the state of Israel and the world at that time.  So I’m looking forward to welcoming him.  And if it’s all right with you, I will save my best lines about him for that occasion.

So these are the recipients of the 2012 Medals of Freedom.  And just on a personal note, I had a chance to see everybody in the back.  What’s wonderful about these events for me is so many of these people are my heroes individually.  I know how they impacted my life.

I remember reading “Song of Solomon” when I was a kid and not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think.  And I remember in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something that — about this country that was so vital.  And I think about Dolores Huerta, reading about her when I was starting off as an organizer.

Everybody on this stage has marked my life in profound ways.  And I was telling — somebody like Pat Summitt — when I think about my two daughters, who are tall and gifted, and knowing that because of folks like Coach Summitt they’re standing up straight and diving after loose balls and feeling confident and strong, then I understand that the impact that these people have had extends beyond me.  It will continue for generations to come.  What an extraordinary honor to be able to say thank you to all of them for the great work that they have done on behalf of this country and on behalf of the world.

So it is now my great honor to present them with a small token of our appreciation.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Presidential Medal of Freedom citations:

Madeleine Korbel Albright.  Madeleine Korbel Albright broke barriers and left an indelible mark on the world as the first female Secretary of State in the United States’ history.  Through her consummate diplomacy and steadfast democratic ideals, Secretary Albright advanced peace in the Middle East, nuclear arms control, justice in the Balkans, and human rights around the world.  With unwavering leadership and continued engagement with the global community, she continues her noble pursuit of freedom and dignity for all people.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think this goes very well with your broach.  (Laughter.)

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  John Doar.  As African Americans strove for justice, John Doar led federal efforts to defend equality and enforce civil rights.  Risking his life to confront the injustices around him, he prevented a violent riot, obtained convictions for the killings of civil rights activists, and stood by the first African American student at the University of Mississippi on his first day of class.  During pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement and in the troubled times of the Watergate scandal, John Doar fought to protect the core values of liberty, equality and democracy that have made America a leader among nations.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Bill Foege.

THE PRESIDENT:  He is pretty tall.  (Laughter.)

MILITARY AIDE:  A distinguished physician and epidemiologist, Bill Foege helped lead a campaign to eradicate smallpox that stands among medicine’s greatest success stories.  At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Carter Center, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has taken on humanity’s most intractable public health challenges from infectious diseases to child survival and development.  Bill Foege has driven decades of progress to safeguard the well-being of all, and he has inspired a generation of leaders in the fight for a healthier world.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

John Glenn has set a peerless example through his service to our nation.  As a Marine Corps pilot and the first American to orbit the Earth, he sparked our passions for ingenuity and adventure and lifted humanity’s ambitions into the expanses of space.  In the United States Senate, he worked tirelessly to ensure all Americans had the opportunity to reach for limitless dreams.  Whether by advancing legislation to limit the spread of nuclear weapons or by becoming the oldest person ever to visit space, John Glenn’s example has moved us all to look to new horizons with drive and optimism.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Susan Carnahan, accepting on behalf of her husband Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi.  In his open defiance of discrimination against Japanese Americans during World War II, Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi demanded our nation live up to its founding principles.  Imprisoned for ignoring curfew and refusing to register for internment camps, he took his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943.  Refusing to abandon his belief in an America that stands for fundamental human rights, he pursued justice until his conviction was overturned in 1987.  Gordon Hirabayashi’s legacy reminds us that patriotism is rooted not in ethnicity, but in our shared ideals.  And his example will forever call on us to defend the liberty of all our citizens.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta.  One of America’s great labor and civil rights icons, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta has devoted her life to advocating for marginalized communities.  Alongside Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the United Farm Workers of America and fought to secure basic rights for migrant workers and their families, helping save thousands from neglect and abuse.  Dolores Huerta has never lost faith in the power of community organizing, and through the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she continues to train and mentor new activists to walk the streets into history.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Adam Daniel Rotfeld, former Polish foreign minister accepting on behalf of Jan Karski.  As a young officer in the Polish Underground, Jan Karski was among the first to relay accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  A witness to atrocity in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, he repeatedly crossed enemy line to document the face of genocide, and courageously voiced tragic truths all the way to President Roosevelt.  Jan Karski illuminated one of the darkest chapters of history, and his heroic intervention on behalf of the innocent will never be forgotten.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Richard Platt, accepting on behalf of his great aunt, Juliette Gordon Low.  An artist, athlete and trailblazer for America’s daughters, Juliette Gordon Low founded an organization to teach young women self-reliance and resourcefulness.  A century later, during the “Year of the Girl,” the Girl Scouts’ more than 3 million members are leaders in their communities and are translating new skills into successful careers.  Americans of all backgrounds continue to draw inspiration from Juliette Gordon Low’s remarkable vision, and we celebrate her dedication to empowering girls everywhere.

(The medal is presented.  Applause.)

Toni Morrison.  The first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison is one of our nation’s most distinguished storytellers.  She has captivated readers through lyrical prose that depicts the complexities of a people and challenges our concepts of race and gender.  Her works are hallmarks of the American literary tradition, and the United States proudly honors her for her nursing of souls and strengthening the character of our union.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

John Paul Stevens.  From the Navy to the bench, John Paul Stevens has devoted himself to service to our nation.  After earning a Bronze Star in World War II, Stevens returned home to pursue a career in law.  As an attorney, he became a leading practitioner of anti-trust law.  And as a Supreme Court Justice, he dedicated his long and distinguished tenure to applying our Constitution with fidelity and independence.  His integrity, humility, and steadfast commitment to the rule of law have fortified the noble vision of our nation’s founders.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Pat Summitt.  Pat Summitt is an unparalleled figure in collegiate sports.  Over 38 seasons, she proudly led the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers to 32 SEC tournament and regular season championships and eight national titles, becoming the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.  On the court, Coach Summitt inspired young women across our country to shoot even higher in pursuit of their dreams.  Off the court, she has inspired us all by turning her personal struggle into a public campaign to combat Alzheimer’s disease.  Pat Summitt’s strength and character exemplify all that is best about athletics in America.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

Bob Dylan.  A modern-day troubadour, Bob Dylan established himself as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.  The rich poetry of his lyrics opened up new possibilities for popular song and inspired generations.  His melodies have brought ancient traditions into the modern age.  More than 50 years after his career began, Bob Dylan remains an eminent voice in our national conversation and around the world.

(The medal is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Can everybody please stand and give a rousing applause to our Medal of Freedom winners?  (Applause.)

Well, we could not be prouder of all of them.  We could not be more grateful to all of them.  You have had an impact on all of us, and I know that you will continue to have an impact on all of us.  So thank you for being here.  Thank you for putting yourself through White House ceremonies — (laughter) — which are always full of all kinds of protocol.

Fortunately, we also have a reception afterwards.  I hear the food around here is pretty good.  (Laughter.)  So I look forward to all of you having a chance to stay and mingle, and again, thank you again, to all of you.  (Applause.)

END                4:22 P.M. EDT

April 26, 2012

President Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama named thirteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.  The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.

President Obama said, “These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation.  They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place.  I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Madeleine Albright
From 1997 to 2001, under President William J. Clinton, Albright served as the 64th United States Secretary of State, the first woman to hold that position.  During her tenure, she worked to enlarge NATO and helped lead the Alliance’s campaign against terror and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.  From 1993 to 1997, she was America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  Since leaving office, she founded the Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management, returned to teaching at Georgetown University, and authored five books.  Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute and is President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

John Doar
Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s.  He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.  Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.  Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.

Bob Dylan
One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962.  Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.  He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.  He was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Art et des Lettres and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.  Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts.  He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.  He continues recording and touring around the world today.

William Foege
A physician and epidemiologist, Foege helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.  He was appointed Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1977 and, with colleagues, founded the Task Force for Child Survival in 1984.  Foege became Executive Director of The Carter Center in 1986 and continues to serve the organization as a Senior Fellow.  He helped shape the global health work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and remains a champion of a wide array of issues, including child survival and development, injury prevention, and preventative medicine.  Foege’s leadership has contributed significantly to increased awareness and action on global health issues, and his enthusiasm, energy, and effectiveness in these endeavors have inspired a generation of leaders in public health.

John Glenn
Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator.  In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth.  After retiring from the Marine Corps, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 1974. He was an architect and sponsor of the 1978 Nonproliferation Act and served as Chairman of the Senate Government Affairs committee from 1987 until 1995.  In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at the age of 77. He retired from the Senate in 1999. Glenn is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Gordon Hirabayashi
Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory.  Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew.  Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943.  Following World War II and his time in prison, Hirabayashi obtained his doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor.  In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Hirabayashi died on January 2, 2012.

Dolores Huerta
Huerta is a civil rights, workers, and women’s advocate. With Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.  Huerta has served as a community activist and a political organizer, and was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farmworkers in California.  In 2002, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing community organizers and national leaders.  In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Jan Karski
Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation.  Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials.  He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt.  Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.

Juliette Gordon Low
Born in 1860, Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.  The organization strives to teach girls self-reliance and resourcefulness.  It also encourages girls to seek fulfillment in the professional world and to become active citizens in their communities.  Since 1912, the Girl Scouts has grown into the largest educational organization for girls and has had over 50 million members.  Low died in 1927.  This year, the Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary, calling 2012 “The Year of the Girl.”

Toni Morrison
One of our nation’s most celebrated novelists, Morrison is renowned for works such as Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.  When she became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1993, Morrison’s citation captured her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”  She created the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University to convene artists and students.  Morrison continues to write today.

Shimon Peres
An ardent advocate for Israel’s security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007.  First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government, including in twelve Cabinets as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transport and Communications.  Peres served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996.  Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Foreign Minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.

John Paul Stevens
Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, when he retired as the third longest-serving Justice in the Court’s history.  Known for his independent, pragmatic and rigorous approach to judging, Justice Stevens and his work have left a lasting imprint on the law in areas such as civil rights, the First Amendment, the death penalty, administrative law, and the separation of powers.  He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, and previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Stevens is a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a naval intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Pat Summitt
In addition to accomplishing an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches, Summitt has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.  She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century.  Off the court, she has been a spokesperson against Alzheimer’s.  The Pat Summitt Foundation will make grants to nonprofits to provide education and awareness, support to patients and families, and research to prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Campaign Headlines May 29, 2012: Mitt Romney Will Reach 1144 Delegates & Clinch GOP / Republican Presidential Nominaton with Texas Primary Win

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WILL REACH 1144 DELEGATES & CLINCH REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION WITH TEXAS PRIMARY WIN

Texas Primary: Romney Expected to Clinch GOP Nomination: Everything’s bigger in Texas, and Tuesday’s state and presidential primary is no exception.
Mitt Romney is expected to reach (and surpass) 1,144 delegates Tuesday night — the magic delegate number needed to officially win the GOP nomination. With 155 delegates at stake, Texas’s GOP primary is the largest delegate prize in the contest so far — the second largest overall. California will offer the most delegates on June 5…. – ABC News Radio, 5-29-12

  • THE RACE: Math adds up to GOP victory for Romney: 1 minute ago Not fuzzy math or new math but the simple one-plus-one addition kind of math. By day’s end, if all goes as expected, the former Massachusetts governor will finally have a mathematical lock on the Republican presidential…. – AP, 5-29-12
  • THE RACE: Texas to put Romney over top in delegate count with 3 months yet to the convention: This day is mostly about math for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Not fuzzy math or new math but the simple one-plus-one addition kind of math…. – WaPo, 5-29-12

Campaign Headlines May 29, 2012: Ted Cruz Tea Party Candidate Vies for Open Texas Senate Seat in Primary

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: TED CRUZ TEA PARTY CANDIDATE VIES FOR OPEN TEXAS SENATE SEAT IN PRIMARY

Tea partier Ted Cruz vies for open Texas Senate seat: Following Republican primary victories in Utah, Indiana, and Nebraska, the tea party movement is hoping for more good news on Tuesday in Texas, where Ted Cruz is taking on the Republican establishment in his campaign for the US Senate…. – ABC News, 5-29-12

  • Cruz confident he’ll earn runoff spot in GOP Senate race: Republican Senate hopeful Ted Cruz said the momentum of Tuesday’s primary election was with him this Memorial Day. He started campaigning in Richardson Monday morning, calling voters on the telephone from aboard a Tea Party… KHOU, 5-29-12
  • Much-watched Texas US Senate race may need runoff: The polls have opened in Texas for the primary election that’s a step leading to a new US senator for the state. Republican US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is not seeking another term. Nine candidates are squaring … FOX 4 News, 5-29-12
  • Heated primary races await voters’ choice: Texas voters will at last troop to the polls Tuesday, after weeks of uncertainty and disputation over congressional and legislative redistricting, to cast ballots in the much-delayed primary elections. Voters will choose their nominees … Houston Chronicle, 5-27-12
  • Texas GOP Senate Primary: Big Spending, Big Fight for Conservative Crown: In Texas, the GOP primary to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison’s US Senate seat has become a costly and bitter fight that may not end today. Texas election code stipulates that candidates must receive at least 50 percent of the vote to win their party’s…. – ABC News, 5-29-12

Campaign Headlines May 28, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Memorial Day Tribute Speech Warns About & Criticizes President Obama’s Foreign Policy

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO)

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY’S MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE SPEECH

In Memorial Day Tribute, Romney Warns of Threats Around the Globe: Delivering a Memorial Day tribute on Monday, Mitt Romney thanked the sacrifice of servicemen and women while warning of the grave dangers around the globe, remarking frankly that “the world is not safe” before ticking off a list of grave security issues around the globe.
“I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place today,” said Romney, speaking before a crowd of nearly 5,000 which included servicemen and women in uniform. “It’s not. Iran is rushing to become a nuclear nation. As the national sponsor of terror around the world, the thought of missile material in the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas or other terrorists is simply unthinkable. Pakistan is home to some 100 nuclear weapons.”
“China’s on the road to becoming a … military superpower,” Romney continued. “Russia is rebuilding their military and is now led by a man who believes that the Soviet Union was a great, as opposed to evil, empire. Chavez is campaigning for power throughout Latin America. Mexico is under siege from the cartels and in the Middle East the Arab Spring has become an Arab Winter.”… – ABC News Radio, 5-28-12

Today Is A Day To Give Thanks And Remember: I am honored to be celebrating Memorial Day this year with John McCain. I don’t have to tell John’s story; the world already knows it. But it is what today’s holiday is all about: sacrifice, valor, honor, courage, and love of country. A lot of young Americans are risking their lives in distant battlefields today. Memorial Day is a day to give thanks to them, and to remember all of America’s soldiers who have laid down their lives to defend our country. As we enjoy our barbecues with friends and families and loved ones, let’s keep them in our thoughts and in our prayers. – Mitt Romney, 5-28-12

  • Romney takes swipe at Obama’s foreign policy: President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney both marked Memorial Day with speeches and politics wasn’t far below the surface…. – msnbc.com, 5-28-12
  • Romney promises world’s strongest military: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised Monday to maintain an American military “with no comparable power anywhere in the world.” The likely Republican presidential nominee faced a San Diego crowd estimated at 5000…. – AP, 5-28-12
  • Veterans Give Romney Big Lead Over Obama: US veterans, about 13% of the adult population and consisting mostly of older men, support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president by 58% to 34%, while nonveterans give Obama a four-percentage-point edge…. – Gallup.com, 5-28-12
  • Romney, McCain hold joint Memorial Day commemoration: Mitt Romney commemorated Memorial Day by honoring the nation’s veterans in this military-heavy city on Monday while arguing that the times are perilous and ensuring the United States’ military might was vital for global peace…. – LAT, 5-28-12

Full Text Obama Presidency May 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Commemoration Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY
& THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama Recalls Vietnam Vets’ Treatment as ‘National Shame’

Source: ABC News Radio 5-28-12

The White House/Pete Souza

In his second address this Memorial Day, President Obama paid specific tribute to those perished during the Vietnam War on the 50th anniversary of its beginning.  He recalled the sacrifice of the troops who served there and the unjust blame that was heaped on them upon their return.

“It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.  That’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again,” Obama told vets and their families gathered at the Vietnam War Memorial on the national mall Monday.  “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.”

The 50th anniversary, Obama argued, is another chance to set the record straight and “tell your story as it should have been told all along.”

“That’s one more way we keep perfecting our union, setting the record straight.  And it starts today.  Because history will honor your service,” he said.  “And even though some Americans turned their back on you, you never turned your back on America.”…READ MORE

President Obama Celebrates U.S. Troops on Memorial Day

Source: WH, 5-28-12

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall (May 28, 2012)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are joined at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall by Rose Marie Sabo-Brown, the widow of Medal of Honor recipient Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., U.S. Army, during the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, he visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that conflict and to celebrate those who served:

[We] come to this wall — to this sacred place — to remember. We can step towards its granite wall and reach out, touch a name.  Today is Memorial Day, when we recall all those who gave everything in the darkness of war so we could stand here in the glory of spring. And today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in Vietnam. We honor each of those names etched in stone — 58,282 American patriots. We salute all who served with them. And we stand with the families who love them still.

At both events, the President noted another reason for celebration — for the first time in nine years, there are no U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the Commemoration Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War Memorial
National Mall
Washington, D.C.

2:27 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Chuck, thank you for your words and your friendship and your life of service.  Veterans of the Vietnam War, families, friends, distinguished guests.  I know it is hot.  (Laughter.)  But you are here — to honor your loved ones.  And Michelle and I could not be more honored to be here with you.

It speaks to the complexity of America’s time in Vietnam that, even now, historians cannot agree on precisely when the war began.  American advisors had served there, and died there, as early as the mid-’50s.  Major combat operations would not begin until the mid-’60s.  But if any year in between illustrated the changing nature of our involvement, it was 1962.

It was January, in Saigon.  Our Army pilots strapped on their helmets and boarded their helicopters.  They lifted off, raced over treetops carrying South Vietnamese troops.  It was a single raid against an enemy stronghold just a few miles into the jungle — but it was one of America’s first major operations in that faraway land.

Fifty years later, we come to this wall — to this sacred place — to remember.  We can step towards its granite wall and reach out, touch a name.  Today is Memorial Day, when we recall all those who gave everything in the darkness of war so we could stand here in the glory of spring.  And today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in Vietnam.  We honor each of those names etched in stone — 58,282 American patriots.  We salute all who served with them.  And we stand with the families who love them still.

For years you’ve come here, to be with them once more.  And in the simple things you’ve left behind — your offerings, your mementos, your gifts — we get a glimpse of the lives they led.  The blanket that covered him as a baby.  The baseball bat he swung as a boy.  A wedding ring.  The photo of the grandchild he never met.  The boots he wore, still caked in mud.  The medals she earned, still shining.  And, of course, some of the things left here have special meaning, known only to the veterans — a can of beer; a packet of M&Ms; a container of Spam; an old field ration — still good, still awful.  (Laughter.)

It’s here we feel the depth of your sacrifice.  And here we see a piece of our larger American story.  Our Founders — in their genius — gave us a task.  They set out to make a more perfect union.  And so it falls to every generation to carry on that work.  To keep moving forward.  To overcome a sometimes painful past.  To keep striving for our ideals.

And one of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there.  You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.  (Applause.)  You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised.  You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated.  It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.  And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.  (Applause.)

And so a central part of this 50th anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along.  It’s another chance to set the record straight.  That’s one more way we keep perfecting our Union — setting the record straight.  And it starts today.  Because history will honor your service, and your names will join a story of service that stretches back two centuries.

Let us tell the story of a generation of servicemembers — every color, every creed, rich, poor, officer and enlisted — who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you. Let’s never forget that most of those who served in Vietnam did so by choice.  So many of you volunteered.  Your country was at war, and you said, “send me.”  That includes our women in Vietnam — every one of you a volunteer.  (Applause.)  Those who were drafted, they, too, went and carried their burden — you served; you did your duty.

You persevered though some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by Americans in war.  The suffocating heat.  The drenching monsoon rains.  An enemy that could come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly.  Some of the most intense urban combat in history, and battles for a single hill that could rage for weeks.  Let it be said — in those hellholes like Briarpatch, and the Zoo and the Hanoi Hilton — our Vietnam POWs didn’t simply endure; you wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history.  (Applause.)

As a nation, we’ve long celebrated the courage of our forces at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the Pusan Perimeter and Heartbreak Ridge.  So let us also speak of your courage — at Hue and Khe Sanh, at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to Rolling Thunder.  All too often it’s forgotten that you, our troops in Vietnam, won every major battle you fought in.  (Applause.)

When you came home, I know many of you put your medals away — tucked them in a drawer, or in a box in the closet.  You went on with your lives — started families and pursued careers.  A lot of you didn’t talk too much about your service.  As a consequence, this nation has not always fully appreciated the chapter of your lives that came next.

So let us also tell a story of a generation that came home, and how — even though some Americans turned their back on you — you never turned your back on America.  (Applause.)  Like generations before you, you took off the uniform, but you never stopped serving.  You became teachers and police officers and nurses — the folks we count on every single day.  You became entrepreneurs, running companies and pioneering industries that changed the world.  You became leaders and public servants, from town halls to Capitol Hill — lifting up our communities, our states, our nation.

You reminded us what it was like to serve, what it meant to serve.  Those of you who stayed in uniform, you rose through the ranks, became leaders in every service, learned from your experience in Vietnam and rebuilt our military into the finest force that the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  And let’s remember all those Vietnam veterans who came back and served again — in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You did not stop serving.  (Applause.)

Even as you succeeded in all these endeavors, you did something more — maybe the most important thing you did — you looked after each other.  When your government didn’t live up to its responsibilities, you spoke out — fighting for the care and benefits you had earned, and, over time, transforming the VA.  And, of course, one of these Vietnam veterans is now our outstanding Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ric Shinseki.  (Applause.)

You looked after one another.  You cared for one another.  People weren’t always talking about PTSD at the time — you understood it, and you were there for each other.  Just as importantly, you didn’t just take care of your own, you cared for those that followed.  You’ve made it your mission to make sure today’s troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive.  (Applause.)

Because of you, because our Vietnam veterans led the charge, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is helping hundreds of thousands of today’s veterans go to college and pursue their dreams.  (Applause.)  Because of you, because you didn’t let us forget, at our airports, our returning troops get off the airplane and you are there to shake their hands.  (Applause.)  Because of you, across America, communities have welcomed home our forces from Iraq.  And when our troops return from Afghanistan, America will give this entire 9/11 Generation the welcome home they deserve.  That happened in part because of you.  (Applause.)

This is the story of our Vietnam servicemembers — the story that needs to be told.  This is what this 50th anniversary is all about.  It’s another opportunity to say to our Vietnam veterans what we should have been saying from the beginning:  You did your job.  You served with honor.  You made us proud.  You came home and you helped build the America that we love and that we cherish.

So here today, it must be said — you have earned your place among the greatest generations.  At this time, I would ask all our Vietnam veterans, those of you who can stand, to please stand, all those already standing, raise your hands — as we say those simple words which always greet our troops when they come home from here on out:  Welcome home.  (Applause.)  Welcome home. Welcome home.  Welcome home.  Thank you.  We appreciate you.  Welcome home.  (Applause.)

Today, we’re calling on all Americans, and every segment of our society, to join this effort.  Everybody can do something.  Five decades removed from a time of division among Americans, this anniversary can remind us of what we share as Americans.  That includes honoring our Vietnam veterans by never forgetting the lessons of that war.

So let us resolve that when America sends our sons and daughters into harm’s way, we will always give them a clear mission; we will always give them a sound strategy; we will give them the equipment they need to get the job done.  We will have their backs.  (Applause.)  We will resolve that leaders will be candid about the risks and about progress — and have a plan to bring our troops home, with honor.

Let us resolve to never forget the costs of war, including the terrible loss of innocent civilians — not just in Vietnam, but in all wars.  For we know that while your sacrifice and service is the very definition of glory, war itself is not glorious.  We hate war.  When we fight, we do so to protect ourselves because it’s necessary.

Let’s resolve that in our democracy we can debate and disagree — even in a time of war.  But let us never use patriotism as a political sword.  Patriots can support a war; patriots can oppose a war.  And whatever our view, let us always stand united in support of our troops, who we placed in harm’s way.  (Applause.)  That is our solemn obligation.  (Applause.)

Let’s resolve to take care of our veterans as well as they’ve taken care of us — not just talk, but actions.  Not just in the first five years after a war, but the first five decades. For our Vietnam veterans, this means the disability benefits for diseases connected to Agent Orange.  It means job opportunities and mental health care to help you stand tall again.  It means ending the tragedy of veterans’ homelessness, so that every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a roof over your heads when you fought on behalf of the country that you love.  (Applause.)

And when an American does not come back — including the 1,666 Americans still missing from the Vietnam War — let us resolve to do everything in our power to bring them home.  This is our solemn promise to mothers like Sarah Shay who joins us today, 93 years old, who has honored her son, Major Donald Shay, Jr., missing in action for 42 years.  There she is.  Sarah, thank you for your courage.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

This is the promise we’re fulfilling today to the Meroney family of Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Forty-three years after he went missing, we can announce that Army Captain Virgil Meroney, III, is coming home, and he will finally rest in peace.  (Applause.)

Some have called this war era a scar on our country, but here’s what I say.  As any wound heals, the tissue around it becomes tougher, becomes stronger than before.  And in this sense, finally, we might begin to see the true legacy of Vietnam. Because of Vietnam and our veterans, we now use American power smarter, we honor our military more, we take care of our veterans better.  Because of the hard lessons of Vietnam, because of you, America is even stronger than before.  (Applause.)

And finally, on this anniversary and all the years to come, let us remember what binds us, as one people.  This is important for all of us, whether you fought in the Vietnam War or fought against it, whether you were too young to be shaped by it.  It is important that our children understand the sacrifices that were made by your troops in Vietnam; that for them, this is more than just a name in history books.  It’s important that we know the lesson of a gift once left at this Memorial.

It was towards the end of the day, and most of the tourists and visitors had departed.  And there it was — a football helmet, black with white stripes, and a wristband.  And with them was a handwritten note.  And it was from a young man, still in high school.  And mind you, this was more than two decades after Vietnam.  That high school student was born years after the war had already ended.  But in that short, handwritten note he captured the reverence — the bonds between generations — that bring us here today.

The letter began, “Dear Vietnam Veterans, here are two things from me to you that I think you should have.”   He explained that it was his helmet from midget football and his wristband from his senior year.  So today I want to close with the words he wrote:

In these two pieces of equipment, I was allowed to make mistakes, correct them, grow and mature as a person.  However, that was on my battlefield.  You didn’t get the chance to do that on your battlefield.  Some of you were forced to grow up too fast; all of you died too soon.  We do have many things in common, though.  We both have pride, heart and determination.  I’m just sorry you guys had to learn those qualities too fast.  That is why I’m giving you what I grew up with.  You are true heroes and you will never be forgotten.

That’s from a high school kid, born decades after the end of the war.  And that captures the spirit that this entire country should embrace.

Veterans, families of the Vietnam War, I know the wounds of war are slow to heal.  You know that better than most.  But today we take another step.  The task of telling your story continues. The work of perfecting our Union goes on.  And decades from now, I hope another young American will visit this place and reach out and touch a name.  And she’ll learn the story of servicemembers  — people she never met, who fought a war she never knew — and in that moment of understanding and of gratitude and of grace, your legacy will endure.  For you are all true heroes and you will all be remembered.

May God bless you.  May God bless your families.  May God bless our men and women in uniform.  And may God bless these United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                   2:50 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Honors Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama pays tribute to our men and women in uniform who have died in service to our country.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address., White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 5/25/12

Weekly Address: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

Source: WH, 5-26-12

President Obama pays tribute to our men and women in uniform who have died in service to our country.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-26-12
As Americans prepare to fire up the grill, open the pool and enjoy the holiday weekend, President Obama is paying tribute to the nation’s men and women in uniform, thanking them for their service and reaffirming his commitment to “serve them and their families as well as they have served us.”

“Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend. In town squares and national cemeteries, in public services and moments of quiet reflection, we will honor those who loved their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it,” Obama said in his weekly address.

The President and First Lady will visit Arlington National Cemetery this Memorial Day to honor “patriots of every generation who gave the last full measure of devotion, from Lexington and Concord to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Later, Mr. and Mrs. Obama will join veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where they will begin to make the 50th anniversary of the war….READ MORE

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day

WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama paid tribute to our men and women in uniform who have died in service to our country.  The President also reaffirmed our nation’s dedication to serving our veterans as well as they have served us, and thanked our men and women in uniform for their unwavering commitment to the United States.  As we come together on Memorial Day, we remind our military families and veterans that they are not alone, and give our thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and helped make America the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
May 26, 2012

This weekend, folks across the country are opening up the pool, firing up the grill, and taking a well-earned moment to relax. But Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend. In town squares and national cemeteries, in public services and moments of quiet reflection, we will honor those who loved their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it.

This Memorial Day, Michelle and I will join Gold Star families, veterans, and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. We’ll pay tribute to patriots of every generation who gave the last full measure of devotion, from Lexington and Concord to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Later that day, we’ll join Vietnam veterans and their families at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—the Wall. We’ll begin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. It’s another chance to honor those we lost at places like Hue, Khe Sanh, Danang and Hamburger Hill. And we’ll be calling on you—the American people—to join us in thanking our Vietnam veterans in your communities.

Even as we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we reaffirm our commitment to care for those who served alongside them—the veterans who came home.  This includes our newest generation of veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have to serve them and their families as well as they have served us: By making sure that they get the healthcare and benefits they need; by caring for our wounded warriors and supporting our military families; and by giving veterans the chance to go to college, find a good job, and enjoy the freedom that they risked everything to protect.

Our men and women in uniform took an oath to defend our country at all costs, and today, as members of the finest military the world has ever known, they uphold that oath with dignity and courage. As President, I have no higher honor than serving as their Commander-in-Chief.  But with that honor comes a solemn responsibility – one that gets driven home every time I sign a condolence letter, or meet a family member whose life has been turned upside down.

No words can ever bring back a loved one who has been lost. No ceremony can do justice to their memory. No honor will ever fill their absence.

But on Memorial Day, we come together as Americans to let these families and veterans know that they are not alone. We give thanks for those who sacrificed everything so that we could be free. And we commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died.

Thank you, God bless you, and have a wonderful weekend.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Honors & Celebrates US Troops on Memorial Day — Recalls Fallen Soldiers, Winding Down of Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama on Memorial Day Recalls the Fallen, Winding Down of Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-28-12

Under bright, hazy skies at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spent his fourth Memorial Day as commander in chief honoring the hundreds of thousands of  soldiers who died serving their country, particularly in the Vietnam War, which began more than 50 years ago.

“From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call,” Obama told hundreds gathered in the humid, midday heat at the cemetery, which is across the Potomac River from the capital.

“They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they’ll never forget. While their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together. Side by side, row by row.  Because each of them loved this country and everything it stands for more than life itself.”

Heeding to custom, Obama also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, pausing to reflect and pray as a lone bugler played taps….READ MORE

President Obama Celebrates U.S. Troops on Memorial Day

Source: WH, 5-28-12

President Obama participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery (May 28, 2012)
President Barack Obama, with Major General Michael Linnington, Commanding General Military District of Washington, participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama earlier marked Memorial Day with two separate events.

This morning, he visited Arlington National Cemetery, where he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and highlighted the connection shared by each of the heroes who rest at the site:

These 600 acres are home to Americans from every part of the country who gave their lives in every corner of the globe. When a revolution needed to be waged and a Union needed to be saved, they left their homes and took up arms for the sake of an idea. From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call. They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they would never forget. And while their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together, side-by-side, row-by-row, because each of them loved this country, and everything it stands for, more than life itself.

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

Remarks by the President Commemorating Memorial Day

Memorial Amphitheater
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia

11:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Good morning, everybody.  Thank you, Secretary Panetta, for your introduction and for your incredible service to our country.  To General Dempsey, Major General Linnington, Kathryn Condon, Chaplain Berry, all of you who are here today — active duty, veterans, family and friends of the fallen — thank you for allowing me the privilege of joining you in this sacred place to commemorate Memorial Day.

These 600 acres are home to Americans from every part of the country who gave their lives in every corner of the globe.  When a revolution needed to be waged and a Union needed to be saved, they left their homes and took up arms for the sake of an idea.  From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call.  They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they would never forget.  And while their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together, side-by-side, row-by-row, because each of them loved this country, and everything it stands for, more than life itself.

Today, we come together, as Americans, to pray, to reflect, and to remember these heroes.  But tomorrow, this hallowed place will once again belong to a smaller group of visitors who make their way through the gates and across these fields in the heat and in the cold, in the rain and the snow, following a well-worn path to a certain spot and kneeling in front of a familiar headstone.

You are the family and friends of the fallen — the parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters by birth and by sacrifice.  And you, too, leave a piece of your hearts beneath these trees.  You, too, call this sanctuary home.

Together, your footsteps trace the path of our history.  And this Memorial Day, we mark another milestone.  For the first time in nine years, Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq.  (Applause.)  We are winding down the war in Afghanistan, and our troops will continue to come home.  (Applause.)  After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.

Especially for those who’ve lost a loved one, this chapter will remain open long after the guns have fallen silent.  Today, with the war in Iraq finally over, it is fitting to pay tribute to the sacrifice that spanned that conflict.

In March of 2003, on the first day of the invasion, one of our helicopters crashed near the Iraqi border with Kuwait.  On it were four Marines:  Major Jay Aubin; Captain Ryan Beaupre; Corporal Brian Kennedy; and Staff Sergeant Kendall Waters-Bey.  Together, they became the first American casualties of the Iraq war.  Their families and friends barely had time to register the beginning of the conflict before being forced to confront its awesome costs.

Eight years, seven months and 25 days later, Army Specialist David Hickman was on patrol in Baghdad.  That’s when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.  He became the last of nearly 4,500 American patriots to give their lives in Iraq.  A month after David’s death — the days before the last American troops, including David, were scheduled to come home — I met with the Hickman family at Fort Bragg.  Right now, the Hickmans are beginning a very difficult journey that so many of your families have traveled before them — a journey that even more families will take in the months and years ahead.

To the families here today, I repeat what I said to the Hickmans:  I cannot begin to fully understand your loss.  As a father, I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to hear that knock on the door and learn that your worst fears have come true. But as Commander-In-Chief, I can tell you that sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make.  I can promise you I will never do so unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation. (Applause.)

And as a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone.  As we honor your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters, we have given — who have given their last full measure of devotion to this country, we have to ask ourselves how can we support you and your families and give you some strength?

One thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them — not just as a rank, or a number, or a name on a headstone, but as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families, for each other, and for this country.

We can remember Jay Aubin, the pilot, who met his wife on an aircraft carrier, and told his mother before shipping out, “If anything happens to me, just know I’m doing what I love.”

We can remember Ryan Beaupre, the former track star, running the leadoff leg, always the first one into action, who quit his job as an accountant and joined the Marines because he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.

We can remember Brian Kennedy, the rock climber and lacrosse fanatic, who told his father two days before his helicopter went down that the Marines he served alongside were some of the best men he’d ever dealt with, and they’d be his friends forever.

We can remember Kendall Waters-Bey, a proud father, a proud son of Baltimore, who was described by a fellow servicemember as “a light in a very dark world.”

And we can remember David Hickman, a freshman in high school when the war began, a fitness fanatic who half-jokingly called himself “Zeus,” a loyal friend with an infectious laugh.

We can remember them.  And we can meet our obligations to those who did come home, and their families who are in the midst of a different, but very real battle of their own.

To all our men and women in uniform who are here today, know this:  The patriots who rest beneath these hills were fighting for many things — for their families, for their flag — but above all, they were fighting for you.  As long as I’m President, we will make sure you and your loved ones receive the benefits you’ve earned and the respect you deserve.  America will be there for you.  (Applause.)

And finally, for all of you who carry a special weight on your heart, we can strive to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice.  A nation that is fair and equal, peaceful and free.  A nation that weighs the cost of every human life.  A nation where all of us meet our obligations to one another, and to this country that we love.  That’s what we can do.

As President, I have no higher honor and no greater responsibility than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  And on days like this, I take pride in the fact that this country has always been home to men and women willing to give of themselves until they had nothing more to give.  I take heart in the strength and resolve of those who still serve, both here at home and around the world.  And I know that we must always strive to be worthy of your sacrifice.

God bless you.  God bless the fallen.  God bless our men and women in uniform.  And may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:49 A.M. EDT

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