OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 8, 2014
Source: WH, 4-3-14
2:55 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Hey, everybody. (Laughter.) Welcome to the White House! (Applause.) I know you guys have been standing for a while, but you’re athletes, you can handle it. (Laughter.)
We are so excited to have Team USA here with us today. But before we begin, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fort Hood community that, as many of you know, has experienced yet another devastating tragedy. And we just want to make sure that folks there know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones and friends, as well as those that were injured.
Because I know that many of the athletes here today are veterans themselves, and when something like this happens, it touches all of us. I know that the President and I are just torn apart when things like this happen. So today, as we celebrate the Olympic spirit, we remember that the same spirit — the spirit of hard work and team work — is shared by our military men and women, and we stand with them today and every day.
So, now, let’s get into the you-guys thing. (Laughter.) After watching you guys all over TV all these couple of months, I have to say that I am truly amazed. I shared some of this with you guys in the receiving line. You all are so talented. You’re dedicated, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t.
I’ve watched you guys do some of the craziest stuff. That’s the thing with the Winter Olympics. You guys do crazy things — careening down the face of mountains — craziness. (Laughter.) Throwing each other up in the air, it’s like — the mixed-pair skaters, the women, they’re teeny. The big guys take them and throw them, just throw them across the ice. I’m like, are you kidding me? (Laughter.) You threw her so hard and she lands on one foot on a blade. And those of you jumping on those cookie sheet things and just sliding down a mountain — (laughter) — 80 miles an hour — I mean, who thinks of that? (Laughter.)
So I am really in awe of everything you do, as so many people here in America and across the globe are. Again and again, you all showed us that being an Olympian is about heart; it’s about guts; and it’s about giving it your all no matter what stands in your way. And that’s a message that I try to convey to young people all the time — the idea that if you work hard and commit yourselves to a goal, and then pick yourself up when you fall, that there is nothing that you can’t achieve.
And as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body. You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform.
And that’s another message that I try to spread to our young people, the importance of healthy eating and staying active. So I want to thank all of you who taped a video for our Let’s Move campaign earlier today. Thank you so much for making that happen. And I want to give a special thank you to the USOC for their work to give over 2 million young people opportunities to get active in their communities. We are so grateful for that, work, and we’re grateful for the example you all set for our young people.
In so many different ways, you all are inspiring folks across the country not just every four years but every single day. And nowhere have I seen that more clearly than in the story of someone that I met here at the White House four years ago under far different circumstances.
Lt. Commander Dan Cnossen was seated next to me at a dinner with leaders of our military. And I just got to see Dan, and we were remarking — because we were in the Dip Room, the same room we had dinner in together, but just a few months earlier, Dan had been in Afghanistan. He was leading a platoon of Navy SEALs when he stepped on an IED. Dan lost both of his legs in the explosion, but he never lost that fighting spirit.
I will always remember Dan, because just four months after that explosion, he finished a half marathon in a wheelchair — four months after the explosion. On the one-year anniversary of his injury, he ran a mile on his prosthetics. Over the next few years, Dan stayed on active duty while in the Navy, earning medals in swimming and running events at the Warrior Games, and completing the New York City Marathon.
And today, four and a half years after his injury, Dan is proud to wear another one of our nation’s uniforms, and that is of Team USA. (Applause.) There’s Dan.
THE PRESIDENT: Dan is in the back there.
MRS. OBAMA: Dan is in the back.
THE PRESIDENT: Wave again, Dan. There’s Dan. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: And I also got to meet Dan’s sister, who stayed by his side every single minute of his recovery and she was an important part of that recovery. And she’s a terrific woman, a nurse herself. And I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.
In Sochi, Dan inspired us all again by competing in the 15K biathlon and the 1 kilometer sitting cross-country spring. So Dan has come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished.
So keep it up. This is only the beginning. Many of you were here four years ago, and you told us you’d be back — and you’re back. So I know you’re already getting ready for that next four years. But in the meantime, we look forward to all that you’re going to do in this country and around the world to keep inspiring particularly young people to just live a little more like you all live and to show them that spirit of persistence.
So thank you all, again, for everything that you do. And I can’t wait to hear about everything that you will do in the years to come.
And with that, I’m going to turn it over to this guy next to me — (laughter) — who happens to be my husband, but, more importantly, is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let’s, first of all, be clear: It is more important that I’m Michelle’s husband than that I’m President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) I just want you to — I don’t want anybody to be confused. Many of you young people out there aren’t married yet, so I just want you to know — giving you some tips in terms of how to prioritize. (Laughter.)
Obviously, as Michelle mentioned, our thoughts right now in many ways are with the families at Fort Hood. These are folks who make such extraordinary sacrifices for us each and every day for our freedom. During the course of a decade of war, many of them have been on multiple tours of duty. To see unspeakable, senseless violence happen in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe, home base, is tragic. And obviously this is the second time that the Fort Hood community has been affected this way.
So we join that entire community in honoring those who lost their lives. Every single one of them was an American patriot. We stand with their families and their loved ones as they grieve. We are thinking about those who are wounded. We’re there to support them.
And as we learn more about what happened and why, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and to keep our troops strong, not just on the battlefield but also when they come home. They’ve done their duty, and they’re an inspiration. They’ve made us proud. They put on the uniform and then they take care of us, and we’ve got to make sure that when they come home we take care of them.
And that spirit of unity is what brings us here today — because we could not be prouder of Team USA. (Applause.) Team USA. I hope all of you made yourself at home. We double-checked to make sure that all the bathroom locks were working in case Johnny Quinn — (laughter) — tried to bust down one of these antique doors. We didn’t want that to happen. (Laughter.)
I want to recognize the members of Congress we have here with us, as well as Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst from the USOC, our fantastic delegations that represent the diversity and the values of our country so well. But most of all, we’re here just to celebrate all of you — our Olympians and Paralympians who brought home a total of 46 medals for the Red, White and Blue. (Applause.)
I understand that freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy also brought home a few stray dogs that he adopted. (Laughter.) That doesn’t count in the medal standings, but it tells you something about the freestyle skiers. (Applause.)
Over the past couple of months, we saw some dominating performances by Team USA. American women won more medals in the Olympics than women of any other nation. (Applause.) Way to go, women! (Applause.) Good job. The men swept the podium in slopestyle skiing and Paralympic snowboarding. (Applause.) There you go. Our women’s hockey team brought home the silver. (Applause.) Our men’s hockey team played a game for the ages with an epic shootout victory over the Russians. (Applause.)
I would personally like to thank all of our snowboarders and freestyle skiers for making newscasters across America say things like “air to fakie,” and the “back-to-back double cork 1260.” (Laughter.) I don’t know what that means, really, but I just wanted to say it. (Laughter.) I’m pretty sure I’m the first President to ever say that. (Applause.) I’m pretty sure that’s true. The back-to-back double cork 1260. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It feels good.
THE PRESIDENT: Does it feel good? (Laughter.)
In Sochi, these athletes made plenty of history. You had 16-year-old Declan Farmer scoring three goals to help our sled hockey team become the first nation ever to win back-to-back gold medals. (Applause.) Hey! There he is. There he is. Hey! (Applause.)
Our men’s bobsled team became the first Americans in 62 years to medal in both the two-man and the four-man competition. (Applause.) Bobsledders — those are some tough guys, those bobsledders. Don’t mess with them. (Laughter.)
And then, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in the slalom, at just 18 years old. (Applause.) Where’s Mikaela? She’s back here somewhere. Wave a little bit. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: She’s a little — she’s down low.
THE PRESIDENT: She’s down low. There she is. I knew she was here. I saw her. (Laughter.) Afterwards, she said she wants to win five gold in 2018. I do have to say, though, Mikaela, as somebody who was once told “you’re young but you should set your sights high,” I just got three words of advice: Go for it. (Applause.) We are confident you are going to be bringing back some more gold.
Thanks to years of lobbying from Team USA, women’s ski jumping was added as an Olympic sport, and they did outstanding. (Applause.) So women can fly just like men. Jessica Jerome said, “We have arrived. We are good at what we do. And we are a lot prettier than the boy jumpers.” (Laughter.) Which I can attest to — I’ve seen them. (Laughter.) She wasn’t lying.
So from our ski jumpers who fought for equality to the athletes and coaches who have served our country in uniform, like Dan, who we’re so proud of, these athletes all send a message that resonates far beyond the Olympic Village. And that’s always been the power of the Olympics — in going for the gold and pushing yourselves to be the best, you inspire the rest of us to try to, if not be the best, at least be a little better.
MRS. OBAMA: Get off the couch.
THE PRESIDENT: Just get off the couch. (Laughter.) That’s what Michelle said.
All of you remind us, just like the Olympic creed states, the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight. And I want to take the example of somebody who couldn’t be here today, but her story I think is typical of so many of yours. And this is Noelle Pikus-Pace. Noelle was hoping to be here, but she’s been on the road a lot, wanted to get back to her husband and her kids — and they may be watching us now.
But almost a decade ago, Noelle was on top of the world after winning the women’s skeleton World Cup. She was injured in a freak accident that cost her chances in 2006. In 2010, she missed the podium by one-tenth of a second. And after all of those Olympics, she retired to spend more time with her family. But then two years, ago her husband convinced her to go back on that sled, because raising a family and racing down the track don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
So since then, Noelle, her husband, her two young children traveled from competition to competition, living out of suitcases, seeing the world together. And in Sochi, it all paid off, and she took home the silver in the skeleton — jumping over the wall to celebrate with her family on the final run. And here’s what Noelle said afterwards: “Life is never going to go as planned. You have to decide, when you’re bumped off course, if it’s going to hold you back or move you forward.”
That’s the spirit we celebrate today. That’s something Dan understands. That’s something that all of you at some stages in your life have understood or will understand. Things aren’t always going to go perfect — and Michelle and I always remark, watching our Olympians, that you work hard for four years and then just a little something can happen. And you’re just that close, and the courage and the stick-to-itness, and the confidence, and the joy in competition that keeps you moving — that’s going to help you throughout life. It helps our country. It’s what America is all about. It’s why we are so proud to have you all here today.
And four years from now, I won’t be here to greet you but some President is going to. And I suspect that a lot of you may come back even four years after that. You guys have done a great job, and what an extraordinary achievement it is for all of you to have represented the United States of America at our Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Congratulations. Good job. (Applause.)
3:15 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 3, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 20, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 14, 2014
Source: WH, 3-6-14
7:34 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Welcome to the White House for the latest in our series celebrating the music that has shaped our American story. And as someone who always shares this house with brilliant, creative, talented, somewhat stubborn women –(laughter) — I think Women’s History Month is the perfect time to honor a few more: the Women of Soul. (Applause.)
This is a really good lineup. And I want to thank our performers for this evening. They are fantastic. We’ve got Tessanne Chin here. (Applause.) We’ve got Melissa Etheridge. (Applause.) We’ve got Aretha Franklin. (Applause.) We’ve got Ariana Grande. (Applause.) Ms. Patti LaBelle. (Applause.) Janelle Monae. (Applause.) And Ms. Jill Scott. (Applause.) That is a lineup. I can’t wait. (Laughter.)
Finally, I want to make a quick public service announcement. When Aretha Franklin first walked into Fame Studio in 1967, most of the other musicians had never heard her sing live before. When they did, one of them said, “The floors rumbled and the walls shook. My brain shook. It was magic.” So my advice to everyone tonight is simple: Hang on. (Laughter.) The Queen of Soul is in the building. If she blows your mind, it will be okay. (Laughter.)
But that’s what soul music does. It makes us move and it makes us feel. To quote Jill Scott, “Soul music is about reaching and touching people on a human level.”
For many of the performers here tonight, it all began on Sunday morning. Growing up in Detroit, Aretha sang at her father’s church, and recorded her first album at that church when she was just 14 years old. Patti LaBelle was painfully shy — I cannot believe that, but this is what I’ve been told –(laughter) — until she sang a solo in front of the congregation, and got a standing ovation. That’s when she realized she could do something special.
Eventually, artists like Aretha and Patti began mixing gospel with R&B, and rock and pop. Instead of singing about love and pain, forgiveness and acceptance to a church audience, they sang about them to the world. And the world had never heard anything like it.
When Aretha first told us what “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved. They wanted some respect. Later, when somebody asked her why it had such an impact, she said, “I guess everybody just wants a little respect.” (Laughter.)
Today, they still do. Aretha had already won 11 Grammys by the time Janelle Monae was born. But as a teenager struggling to make it in New York, Janelle worked as a maid, singing for the other women as they cleaned houses together. And she says the experience inspired her to write music for people like them — “because they need it the most.”
And when Melissa Etheridge was growing up, she fell in love with artists who had something to say. She remembers thinking, “I can’t wait until I get up there and sing the truth.”
And ultimately, that’s what soul is all about — telling some truth. And tonight, we’re in for a healthy dose of truth — (laughter) — from some of the finest voices there are.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce a true American treasure, the one and only Miss Patti LaBelle. (Applause.)
7:39 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 6, 2014
Source: WH, 2-23-14
State Dining Room
7:11 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, welcome to the White House. Everybody looks fabulous. I am truly honored to be one of Michelle Obama’s guests tonight here at dinner. (Laughter.) I want to thank all the governors and their better halves for being here tonight, especially your chair, Mary Fallin, and your vice chair, John Hickenlooper. (Applause.)
Tonight, we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home, to which I’m sure some of you are thinking that’s been the plan all along. (Laughter.) But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote: “I am more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office.” Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt. (Laughter.) So I guess plans change.
I look forward to working with each of you not just in our meetings tomorrow, but throughout this year, what I hope to be a year of action. Our partnership on behalf of the American people, on issues ranging from education to health care to climate change runs deep, deeper than what usually hits the front page.
Being here tonight, I’m thinking about moments that I’ve spent with so many of you during the course of the year — with Governor Patrick in a hospital in Boston, seeing the survivors of the Boston bombing, seeing them fight through their wounds, determined to return to their families, but also realizing that a lot of lives were saved because of the preparations that federal and state and local officials had carried out beforehand; with Governor Fallin at a firehouse in Moore, thanking first responders who risked their lives to save others after a devastating tornado, but once again seeing the kind of state-federal cooperation that’s so vital in these kinds of circumstances; spending time with Governor O’Malley at the Naval Academy graduation last spring and looking out over some of our newest sailors and Marines as they join the greatest military in the world, and reminding ourselves that on national security issues, the contributions of the National Guard obviously are extraordinary and all of you work so closely with them.
So if there’s one thing in common in the moments like these, it’s that our cooperation is vital to make sure that we’re doing right by the American people. And what’s common also is the incredible resilience and the goodness and the strength of the American people that we’re so privileged to serve. And that resilience has carried us from the depths of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes to what I am convinced can be a breakthrough year for America and the American people.
That of course will require that we collectively take action on what matters to them — jobs and opportunity. And when we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way that I can to help more Americans work and study and strive, and make sure that they see their efforts and their faith in this country rewarded.
I know we’ll talk more about areas where we can work together tomorrow. So tonight, I simply would like to propose a toast to the families that support us, to the citizens that inspire us and to this exceptional country that has given us so much. Cheers.
7:16 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 23, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 20, 2014
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico during the Three Amigos Summit
After waging a pack of beer for each of the US-Canada hockey match-ups at the Sochi Winter Olympics US President Barack Obama now owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a pack of beer, after Canada’s Women’s hockey team won gold beating Team USA 3-2 in overtime on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
Another pack of beer is up in the air when the US and Canada’s men’s hockey teams meet in the semi-final on Friday, Feb. 21. Obama and Harper made the bet during the Three Amigo’s Summit in Mexico this past week. Canada is the defending champions in both Women’s and Men’s hockey.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) February 20, 2014
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 20, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 20, 2014
Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper paintings now adorning the Oval Office
President Barack Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper painting now adorning the Oval Office, Jan. 7, 2014; Obama is trying to rehab his image relating to the arts after joking about art history degrees in a speech about technical job training, Jan. 30, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 19, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 17, 2014
President François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
This evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France. The French State Dinner menu and theme was inspired by the shared history and friendship between the United States and France. …READ MORE
Source: WH, 2-11-14
South Grounds Tent
8:48 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening, everybody. Bonsoir! Please, have a seat. I have now officially exhausted my French. (Laughter.) Michelle and I are so honored to welcome you to the White House as we host President Hollande and his delegation for this historic state visit between our nations — the first in nearly 20 years.
I think we have a translation. Is that correct? No? You don’t want me to translate. (Laughter.) Apparently not.
At our press conference today, I quoted Alexis de Tocqueville — that son of France who in 1831 set out across our young country and chronicled our American democracy. And those who are familiar with de Tocqueville are always amazed by how well he understood this nation of ours and captured its spirit as well as anybody ever has. And tonight, I’d like to share some of his lesser known observations.
About American dining, de Tocqueville wrote, “The absence of wine at our meals at first struck us as very disagreeable; and we still can’t understand the multitude of things that [Americans] succeed in introducing into their stomachs.” (Laughter.) So some things do not change. When François came here years ago as a student to study our fast food, I suspect he said the same thing.
About the White House, de Tocqueville’s traveling companion wrote, “The President of the United States occupies a palace that in Paris would be called a fine private residence.” (Laughter.) And he wrote — and I very much can relate to this: “The power of the King of France would be nil if it were modeled after the power of the President.” (Laughter.) And the King didn’t have to deal with the filibuster. (Laughter.)
Now, Americans took lessons from France as well. One young American lawyer went to Paris and was deeply moved to see white and black students studying together. And that young American was Charles Sumner, who — inspired by what he saw in France — became one of our greatest abolitionists, helped to end slavery, and is one of the reasons that all of us can be here this evening as full citizens, free and equal.
Now, it is true that we Americans have grown to love all things French — the films, the food, the wine. Especially the wine. But most of all, we love our French friends because we’ve stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years. Tonight I again want to pay tribute to President Hollande for the principled leadership and personal friendship and courage that he has shown on the world stage. Thank you, François.
We started this visit yesterday at Monticello. And I’d like to end where we began. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “So ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on Earth would you rather live? Certainly, in my own, where [are] my friends, my relations, and the earliest and sweetest affections and recollections of my life.” But Jefferson added, “Which would be your second choice? France.” Of course.
And so I propose a toast: To our friend and partner President Hollande, to all of our friends from France who are here today — vive la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations. À votre santé! Cheers. (A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: Mr. President, Dear Michelle, members of the Congress and French parliament, ladies and gentlemen — I hope that translation exists. (Laughter.)
Mr. President, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome that you have extended to me and my delegation. France and the United States of America are bound by ties of history — great history of French citizens such as Lafayette, who fought alongside the heroes of independence to allow your dream of freedom to prevail. The glorious history of the Americans who came to fight on French soil during the First World War, and then in June 1944 to liberate the European continent from Nazi oppression.
This afternoon, it was a great moment and a great honor to award your Unknown Soldier with the insignia of the French Legion of Honor and to award medal to six glorious veterans of the Second World War. I promise we shall never forget them. (Applause.)
More recently, after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack, France shared America’s pain. On that frightful day, (inaudible) we were all Americans. This is the very reason why we endured together in Afghanistan.
Monsieur le Président, now I will speak French. (Speaks French.)
I raise my glass in honor of the United States of America, of the President Barack Obama, Michelle — long life, the United States. Vive la France et vive l’amitié entre la France et les États-Unis.
(A toast is offered.)
(As interpreted.) Our two countries share universal values, and we have feelings for one another. We love Americans, although we don’t always say so. And you love the French, but you’re sometimes too shy to say so. (Laughter.) But we share the same universal values — freedom, democracy, respect for the law. These principles guide our action.
Ever since I took office at the presidency, we have been defending them together. In Mali, the French armed forces were able to rely on the efficient support awarded by the U.S. soldiers and equipment. In the Central African Republic, your support has accompanied our operation aiming at restoring security in this country, torn by its actions and violence between religions.
Together, we have removed the unacceptable threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and we have succeeded in reaching an interim agreement. In Syria, we together removed — through resorting to the threat of force — the threat of a worsening situation, and we managed to force the regime of Bashar al-Assad to accept the destruction of his stockpiles of chemical weapons. And again, together, we are looking resolutely together for a political outcome so desperately needed.
Together, the French and the Americans, also want to work for growth and to introduce new rules that will prevent financial crises and enable us to fight more efficiently against tax evasion. First, results are here, and the strength and robustness of the American economy is a source of hope for all developed countries. Provided that we open up our markets and intensify our trade, we will succeed.
Together, we will also rise to the challenge of climate change. Paris will be hosting the Climate Change Conference in 2015. It is up to us to convince our major partners to take the necessary steps before it is too late. And I know, again, that I can count on your commitment.
Mr. President, the relations between our two countries have reached an exceptional level of closeness and confidence, and there is one simple reason for that: We share the same vision of the world and we show mutual respect. The United States of America and France are two great nations. What is expected of them is to keep a promise, a promise of freedom and the promise of progress, and also to keep a dream alive — that same dream made by Jefferson, Washington, Lafayette and the French revolutionaries — a dream to change the world. By uniting our forces, by uniting our talents, we will be able to keep the flame of hope alive.
I raise my glass to the President of the United States of America and to Michelle Obama. Long live the United States! Long live France! (Applause.)
END 9:02 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 11, 2014
This morning, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House – the first state visit by a French president in nearly 20 years….READ MORE
Source: WH, 2-11-14
9:25 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Bonjour! That’s the extent of my French. (Laughter.) Few places in the world warm the heart like Paris in the spring. This morning, we’re going to do our best with Washington in the winter. (Laughter.)
France is America’s oldest ally, and in recent years we’ve deepened our alliance. And today, on behalf of the American people and Michelle and myself, it is a great honor to welcome my friend President Hollande and his delegation for their first state visit to the United States — in fact, the first state visit by a French President in nearly 20 years. (Applause.)
Yesterday at Monticello we reflected on the values that we share — the ideals at the heart of our alliance. Here, under the red, white and blue — and the blue, white and red — we declare our devotion once more to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — to “liberté, egalité, and fraternité.” (Laughter and applause.)
For more than two centuries, we’ve not only proclaimed our ideals, our citizens have bled to preserve them, from a field in Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan. And today, we are honored to be joined by two extraordinary men who were there those historic days 70 years ago. I ask them to stand, proud veterans of D-Day who are here in attendance today. (Applause.)
So it’s no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other. We owe our freedom to each other. Of course, we Americans also thank our French friends for so much else — this capital city, designed by L’Enfant; our Statue of Liberty, a gift from France; and something many Americans are especially grateful for, New Orleans and the French Quarter. (Laughter.)
Mr. President, like generations before us, we now have the task not simply to preserve our enduring alliance, but to make it new for our time. No one nation can meet today’s challenges alone or seize its opportunities. More nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership, and that is what the United States and France are doing together.
To our French friends, I say let’s do even more together, for the security that our citizens deserve, for the prosperity that they seek, and for the dignity of people around the world who seek what we declared two centuries ago — those “unalienable rights,” those “sacred rights of man.”
President Hollande, members of the French delegation, we are honored to have you here as one of our strongest allies and closest friends. Welcome to the United States. Bienvenue, mes amis. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: Mr. President, dear Barack, dear Michelle, ladies and gentlemen: It’s cold in Washington. (Laughter.) You’re right. But it’s a beautiful day, a great day for our American friends. And I will speak in French because I am obliged to do that for my country.
(As Interpreted.) We are received here, my delegation and myself, as friends. And I am particularly touched by this reception by the President of the United States. We are always united by a common history, from Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy. As you said so rightly, each of our countries knows what it owes to the other — its freedom.
Yesterday, we were in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s residence — a great American statesman, once ambassador to France — who remains one of the most beautiful symbols of the ties that unite us. This afternoon, at the Arlington Cemetery, I shall award the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction, to the American Unknown Soldier. And I shall present American veterans who fought in the Second World War with an award and I’d like to pay tribute to these men. (Applause.)
Thus doing, I wish to demonstrate the fact that France will never forget the spirit of sacrifice shown by these American soldiers, nameless heroes who left their homes to liberate my country and Europe. We shall pay tribute to them during the celebrations that will take place in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing. And I hope, Barack, that you will join me on the 6th of June, 2014, 70 years after D-Day landing.
Our two countries hold universal values, values that inspired Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin to write together the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We stand together to fight terrorism. Today still, France and the United States stand side by side to make these values prevail. We stand together with the United States to address the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons; together to solve the crises faced by the Middle East; together to support Africa’s development; and together to fight global warming and climate change. (Applause.)
Today, we stand united and we have built a model of friendship –- a friendship that is the best recipe for a better world, a world such as the one that was dreamt by Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette. It is not just about friendship; it is about an alliance that will enable us to make this world a better place, a safer place, a more humane place.
Mr. President, I am proud to stand here. You are this great man of the United States of America and you represent the United States of America, a country where everything is possible for who wants it; a country devoted to freedom and equality. Long live the United States. Long live France. Long live the Franco-American friendship. (Applause.) Thank you.
9:39 A.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 11, 2014
This afternoon, President Obama and French President François Hollande visited Monticello, the home of former President Thomas Jefferson, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a noted Francophile, and served as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789….READ MORE
Source: WH, 2-10-14
5:32 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this has been a wonderful visit. And I want to thank François for joining us here today. I thought this was an appropriate way to start the state visit because what it signifies is the incredible history between the United States and France.
As one of our Founding Fathers, the person who drafted our Declaration of Independence, somebody who not only was an extraordinary political leader but also one of our great scientific and cultural leaders, Thomas Jefferson represents what’s best in America. But as we see as we travel through his home, what he also represents is the incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave to the United States, because he was a Francophile through and through.
He drew inspiration from the Enlightenment ideas that had been developed in France and throughout Europe, but he also drew from the arts, from the architecture, from the writings, from the culture and from the cuisine of France. And so, in this sense, this home represents the bonds that helped lead to the American Revolution, helped to influence the French Revolution, figures like Lafayette, who played such a central role in our own independence — all this is signified here at Monticello.
And our hope in starting our visit this way is that, just as we can extend back through generations to see the links between the United States and France, tomorrow we’ll have an opportunity to talk about not only our current bonds and alliance but also ways that we can strengthen our cooperation in the future.
And of course, this house also represents the complicated history of the United States. We just visited downstairs where we know the slaves helped to build this magnificent structure, and the complex relations that Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, had to slavery. And it’s a reminder for both of us that we are going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples — something that I know France has always been committed to, and we are committed to as well.
And I’m looking forward to talking about issues of human dignity and human rights not just in our own countries, but around the world as well.
So, Mr. President, welcome to Monticello, and we look forward to continuing our conversation tomorrow.
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: (As interpreted.) I would like to thank especially President Obama for having invited me to this house. This is Thomas Jefferson’s house, which means that this was a man who understood — met the secretary of Enlightenment, and he wanted to represent this life throughout this house. You can see life everywhere. You can see it the objects, in the refinement of the objects, and its architecture.
Why is this house a symbol? Because here Lafayette was welcomed. Together, Lafayette and Jefferson imagined something that seemed impossible — mainly American independence and the rights of — human rights and the rights of the citizen. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, and Lafayette was also involved in drafting the Rights of the Citizen, and they met together in this house.
There is something quite unique about Jefferson in the fact that he been ambassador of the United States to France before becoming U.S. President. I do believe that is the only American President that had that experience. And he was U.S. ambassador to France at the time of the French Revolution, and he departed from France in August of 1789, which means after the 14th of July with the taking of the Bastille. He thought he had seen enough and that he could go back home. And then of course, he was involved in the governance of the United States before becoming President. And then Jefferson purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. And today we are not demanding anything. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It was a good bargain, though. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT HOLLANDE: (As interpreted.) I also wish to confirm that this bond that unites us with Jefferson, that these bonds are sustained over time, because he represents values and principles. Freedom, human dignity, rights — these are the values to which we are continuing to fight around the world, the United States and France. We were allies in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette. We are still allies today. We were friends in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette, and we will remain friends forever.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.
5:41 P.M. EST
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