Full Text Political Transcripts July 27, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

July 27, 2017

Remarks by President Trump at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

Source: WH, 7-27-17

East Room

3:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Please sit down.  Thank you.  And thank you to Vice President for doing a fantastic job and for the introduction.  We welcome you all, members of Congress and distinguished guests.  We are gathered here today for a very, very special occasion, as we pay tribute to real heroes whose courageous actions under fire saved so many lives in Alexandria, Virginia just six weeks ago.

On the morning of June 14th, several members of Congress began their day on the baseball diamond, practicing for one of this town’s greatest traditions — the annual charity Congressional baseball game.  It was just another beautiful morning until the unthinkable happened.  The familiar sounds of baseball were suddenly interrupted by loud, vicious gunfire.

Matt Mika, Zachary Barth, and beloved Congressman, and my friend, Steve Scalise were each shot during an attack. Others were injured trying to evade the incoming bullets, of which there were many.

Fortunately, from the moment that gunman began to shoot, he was met by return fire.  Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner raced through the bullets — and that’s exactly what they did, they raced through the bullets — and immediately engaged the gunman.

Minutes later, members of the Alexandria Police Department arrived on scene. Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen joined the fight.  Special Agent Griner was shot in the leg — visited her in the hospital, she was hurt very badly — and shrapnel injured Special Agent Bailey as bullets swirled around him.

Despite their injuries, both officers heroically continued to face down the gunman until they brought him down.  And he had rifles; they had handguns.  That’s a big difference.

These officers saved the lives of every innocent person on the field that day — many of them friends of Mike and myself.  They are American heroes and we salute them.  (Applause.)  Fantastic.  That is so beautiful.  Thank you.

We also salute the members of Congress who acted with such bravery in the face of danger, shielding each other and caring for the injured.  We honor today the emergency dispatchers who directed the first responders to the scene within seconds.  They really acted quickly.

I especially want to recognize all of the personnel from the Alexandria Fire Department and the U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit for providing life support in a crisis where every second mattered.  Thank you for what you did that day and for what you do every single day.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

We also express our deep appreciation for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and surgeons from MedStar Washington Hospital and George Washington University Hospital for saving the lives of the wounded.

Joining us today is Congressman Scalise’s medical team: Dr. Jack Sava — where’s Jack?  Dr. Sava.  Stand up, Jack.  Come on.  (Applause.)  That’s beautiful.  MedStar’s Director of Trauma Surgery, and Dr. Robert Golden, the Director of Orthopedic Trauma.  Doctor, doctor — congratulations.  (Applause.)  They were a lot more worried that night at the hospital, weren’t they?  Great job.

You have the gratitude of the entire nation.  Thank you for caring for the victims and for your dear friend Steve — and he is our dear friend.  Steve is a fighter.  We’ve known that for a long time.

This week, he was been discharged from the hospital and is now beginning weeks of intensive rehabilitation at an in-patient facility.  He will recover.  We are praying for him, we are pulling for him, and we are sending his family our support and our love.

Steve’s great wife — who I have gotten to know — Jennifer is here with us today, and we applaud the strength and courage that she has shown throughout this incredible ordeal.  Thank you, Jennifer.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jennifer.

Other Americans responded to this tragedy in ways that remind us how much stronger we are when we are united.  When the Congressional baseball game was played just one day later, nearly 25,000 people turned out — by far, a record.  They raised more than $1.5 million for charity — also, by far, a record.  The citizens of Steve’s home parish organized a blood drive in his name, and Vice President Pence donated his blood at the Congressional blood drive.  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)

Just recently, House Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill to provide support to Capitol Police officers who are injured on duty.  People have been looking at this for a long time.  But Jennifer, you can tell Steve that he pulled it off, okay?  That’s better than being a whip.  I hope it gets to my desk soon.  I will sign it immediately.  (Applause.)

The assault on June 14th reminded us that evil exists in this world.  But it also reminded us that heroes walk in our midst, that love triumphs over tragedy, and that our resolve is stronger than ever.  We praise America’s law enforcement — and I’ve been praising them for a long time, they are unbelievable people — for doing a tough — for doing the tough jobs, the dangerous jobs, and sometimes thankless job with tremendous integrity, devotion, and courage.  So I just want to thank law enforcement generally.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I can only tell you from the campaign, the people love you, they respect you, and they admire you.  So I know you go through a lot, but they have great admiration.  So just remember that, please.

Today I am deeply honored to present our nation’s highest award for a public safety officer — the Medal of Valor to Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey; and Alexandria Police Department Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen.

The Medal of Valor is reserved for those who go above and beyond the call of duty as each of these men and women did on that fateful day.  And they did it with great courage, and they did it with instinct.  When our human instincts tell us to run — there’s danger — our police and first responders run straight at it, standing in the breach, protecting the innocent, and keeping our loved ones safe.

Now I would like the military aide to read the citation, as these American heroes step forward to receive the Medal of Valor.

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Crystal Griner.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Crystal Griner, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for bravery and composure while engaged in an active shooter incident.  Despite being shot, Special Agent Griner placed herself in mortal danger to save the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff during a charity softball practice at Eugene Simpson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Virginia.  (Applause.)

Special Agent David Bailey.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent David Bailey, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  Special Agent Bailey was shot during the exchange of gunfire, but continued to advance the shooter without benefit of cover until the active shooter was subdued, saving the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff.  (Applause.)

Officer Nicole Battaglia.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Nicole Battaglia, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for demonstrating extraordinary courage in saving the lives of two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Battaglia engaged the assailant, exchanging gunfire at close range and ultimately neutralizing him.  (Applause.)

Officer Alexander Jensen.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Alex Jensen, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for swift and valiant action in responding to an active shooter.  Officer Jensen put himself in harm’s way during the active shooter incident, moving without cover and drawing fire from the assailant until the assailant was subdued and the safety of the members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff was ensured.  (Applause.)

Officer Kevin Jobe.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Kevin Jobe, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for placing himself in grave danger to protect two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Jobe engaged an active shooter, neutralizing a volatile gunman, and preventing further injuries to innocent bystanders in the park.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Very brave people.  Great people.  Congratulations to all of you. We are forever in your debt. Thank you. God bless you. God bless our truly amazing law enforcement. And God Bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:44 P.M. EDT

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Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the Vice President in Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

Source: WH, 1-12-17

State Dining Room

3:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  All right, that’s enough.  Don’t want to embarrass the guy.  (Laughter.)

Welcome to the White House, everybody.  As I have already delivered my farewell address, I will try to be relatively brief.  But I just wanted to get some folks together to pay tribute to somebody who has not only been by my side for the duration of this amazing journey, but somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country, the best Vice President America has ever had, Mr. Joe Biden.  (Applause.)

This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.  (Laughter.)  This has been quite a ride.  It was eight and a half years ago that I chose Joe to be my Vice President.  There has not been a single moment since that time that I’ve doubted the wisdom of that decision.  He was the best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people.  This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.  This is somebody the people of Delaware sent to the Senate as quickly as they possibly could.  (Laughter.)

Elected at age 29, for more than a dozen years apiece he served as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relation Committees.  Domestically, he championed landmark legislation to make our communities safer, to protect our women from violence.  Internationally, his wisdom and capacity to build relationships that shaped our nation’s response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to counterterrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan.

And for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we’ve made.  He fought to make college more affordable and revitalize American manufacturing as the head of our Middle Class Task Force.  He suited up for our Cancer Moonshot, giving hope to millions of Americans touched by this disease.

He led our efforts to combat gun violence, and he rooted out any possible misappropriations that might have occurred.  And as a consequence, the Recovery Act worked as well as just about any largescale stimulus project has ever worked in this country.  He visited college after college — and made friends with Lady Gaga (laughter) — for our “It’s On Us” campaign against campus sexual assault.  And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to His Holiness, as well.  (Laughter.)

Behind the scenes, Joe’s candid, honest counsel has made me a better President and a better Commander-in-Chief.  From the Situation Room to our weekly lunches, to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he’s been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree — in fact, especially if we disagree.

And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest Vice President we have ever seen.  And I also think he has been a lion of American history.  The best part is he’s nowhere close to finished.  In the years ahead, as a citizen, he will continue to build on that legacy, internationally and domestically.  He’s got a voice of vision and reason and optimism, and a love for people.  And we’re going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot in this country.

So, all told, that’s a pretty remarkable legacy.  An amazing career in public service.  It is, as Joe once said, a big deal. (Laughter and applause.)  It is.

But we all know that, on its own, his work — this list of accomplishments, the amazing résumé — does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden.  I have not mentioned Amtrak yet or aviators.  (Laughter.)  Literally.  (Laughter.)

Folks don’t just feel like they know Joe the politician, they feel like they know the person — what makes him laugh, what he believes, what he cares about, and where he came from.  Pretty much every time he speaks, he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught him in grade school — (laughter) — or from an old Senate colleague.

But, of course, more frequently cited — Catherine and Joseph, Sr., his mom and dad:  “No one’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.” (Laughter.)  “Bravery resides in every heart, and yours is fierce and clear.”  “And when you get knocked down, Joey, get up — get up.”  (Laughter.)  “Get up.”  (Applause.)

That’s where he got those broad shoulders.  That’s where he got that Biden heart.  And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is.  That’s what steels his faith in God, and in America, and in his friends, and in all of us.

When Joe talks to autoworkers whose livelihoods he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he had lost his job.

When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so that he could be there to tuck his kids into bed.

When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror, reciting Yeats or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter.

And when Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit; another father of an American veteran; somebody whose faith has been tested, and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself, and who knows who to lean on to find the light.

So that’s Joe Biden — a resilient, and loyal, and humble servant, and a patriot.  But most of all, a family man.  Starts with Jill, “Captain of the Vice Squad.”  (Laughter.)  Only the Second Lady in our history to keep her regular day job.  (Applause.)  Jill says, teaching isn’t what she does, it’s who she is.  A few days after Joe and I were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the classroom teaching.  That’s why when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to Jill to lead the way.

She’s also traveled the world to boost education and empowerment for women.  And as a Blue Star mom, her work with Michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful efforts of this administration.

Of course, like Joe, Jill’s work is only part of the story.  She just seems to walk this Earth so lightly, spreads her joy so freely.  And she reminds us that although we’re in a serious business, we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously.  She’s quick with a laugh or a practical joke, disguising herself as a server at a party she once hosted — (laughter) –to liven the mood.  She once hid in the overhead compartment of Air Force 2 to scare the senior staff.  (Laughter.)  Because why not?  She seems to have a sixth sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or a staffer, a simple thank you or a box of macaroons.
She is one of the best, most genuine people that I’ve met not just in politics, but in my entire life.  She is grounded, and caring, and generous, and funny, and that’s why Joe is proud to introduce himself as “Jill Biden’s husband.”  (Laughter.)

And to see them together is to see what real love looks like — through thick and thin, good times and bad.  It’s an all-American love story.  Jill once surprised Joe by painting hearts on his office windows for Valentine’s Day.

And then there are these Biden kids and grandkids.  They’re everywhere.  (Laughter.)  They’re all good-looking.  (Laughter.)  Hunter and Ashley, who lived out that family creed of raising good families and looking out for the least of our brothers and sisters.  Beau, who is watching over us with those broad shoulders and mighty heart himself — a man who left a beautiful legacy and inspired an entire nation.  Naomi, and Finn, and Maisy, and Natalie, and little Hunter — grandchildren who are the light of Joe’s eyes, and gives him an excuse to bust out the squirt gun around the pool.  (Laughter.)  This is the kind of family that built this country.

That’s why my family is so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens.  (Laughter.)  As Yeats put it — because I had to quote an Irish poet, and Seamus Heaney was taken — (laughter) — “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

Away from the camera, Jill and Michelle have each other’s backs just as much as when they’re out championing our troops.  Our girls are close, best friends at school, inviting each other for vacations and sleepovers.  Even though our terms are nearly over, one of the greatest gifts of these past eight years is that we’re forever bonded as a family.

But, of course, I know that the Obamas are not the only ones who feel like they’re part of the Biden clan because Joe’s heart has radiated around this room.  You see it in the enduring friendships he’s forged with folks of every stripe and background up on Capitol Hill.  You see it in the way that his eyes light up when he finds somebody in a rope line from Scranton.  (Laughter.)  Or just the tiniest towns in Delaware.  (Laughter.)  You see it in the incredible loyalty of his staff, the team who knows that family always comes before work because Joe tells them so every day, the team that reflects their boss’s humble service.  Here in this building where there have been no turf wars between our staffs because everybody here has understood that we were all on the same mission and shared the same values, there has just been cooperation and camaraderie.  And that is rare.  It’s a testament to Joe and the tone that he’s set.

And finally, you see Joe’s heart in the way he consoles families, dealing with cancer, backstage after an event; when he meets kids fighting through a stutter of their own, he gives them his private phone number and keeps in touch with them long after.  To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.

As one of his long-time colleagues in the Senate, who happened to be a Republican, once said, “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you got a problem.  He’s as good a man as God ever created.”

So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country, and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage.

For the final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.   (Applause.)

And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others:  Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and General Colin Powell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Will the aide please read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.  In a career of public service spanning nearly half a century, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has left his mark on almost every part of our nation, fighting for a stronger middle class, a fairer judicial system and a smarter foreign policy; providing unyielding support for our troops; combatting crime and violence against women; leading our quest to cure cancer; and safeguarding the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from corruption.

With his charm, candor, unabashed optimism, and deep and abiding patriotism, Joe Biden has garnered the respect and esteem of colleagues of both parties, and the friendship of people across the nation and around the world.  While summoning the strength, faith and grace to overcome great personal tragedy, this son of Scranton, Claymont, and Wilmington has become one of the most consequential Vice Presidents in American history, an accolade that nonetheless rests firmly behind his legacy as husband, father, and grandfather.

A grateful nation thanks Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for his lifetime of service on behalf of the United States of America.

(The Medal of Freedom is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President.  (Applause.)  Please, please, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please.  Thank you.

Ricchetti, you’re fired.  (Laughter.)  For the press, Ricchetti is my chief of staff.  (Laughter.)

I had no inkling.  I thought we were coming over, Michelle, to — for you, Jill, and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.

Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill.  But I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.  I look around the room, and I see great friends like Ted Kaufman, who has been — has so much wisdom.  Guys like Mel Monzack.  I look around here and I’m startled.  I keep seeing people I don’t expect.  Madam President, how are you?  Mr. President, look at my new boss over there.  (Laughter.)

But you know, I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve, to state the obvious and — because I’ve always had somebody to lean on.  From back that time in 1972, when the accident happened, I leaned on — and I mean this in literal sense; Chris knows this — Dodd knows this, and Mel knows this, and Ted knows this — I leaned on my sons Beau and Hunter.  And I continue to lean on Hunter who continues to in a bizarre kind of way raise me.  I mean I’ve leaned on them.

And, Mr. President, you observed early on that when either one of my boys would walk in the room, they’d walk up and say, Dad, what can I get you?  Dad, what do you need?

And then Jill came along, and she saved our lives.  She — no man deserves one great love, let alone two.  And — but everybody knows here, I am Jill’s husband.  Everybody knows that I love her more than she loves me.  (Laughter.)  With good reason.  (Laughter.)  And she gave me the most precious gift, the love of my life, the life of my love, my daughter, Ashley.

And I continue to lean on the family.  Mr. President, you kidded me once.  You heard that the preparation for the two debates — vice presidential debates that I had — I only had two that Beau and Hunt would be the last people in the room.  And Beau would say, look at me, Dad.  Look at me.  Remember, remember home base.  Remember.

And the Secret Service can tell you, Mr. President, that Beau and Hunt and Ashley continue to have to corral me.  We were at one of the national parks, and I was climbing up on top of a bridge to jump off the bridge with a bunch of young kids.  And I hear my sons yelling, Dad, get down.  Now!  (Laughter.)  And I just started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop.  And I said, I was just going to do a flip — a full gainer off here.

He said, Dad, the Secret Service doesn’t want you up there.  Dad.  Look at me, Dad.  (Laughter.)

So we’ve never figured out who the father is in this family.  (Laughter.)

And, Mr. President, you know that with good reason there is no power in the vice presidency.  Matter of fact I just did for Nancy Pelosi’s daughter a reading of the Constitution.  You probably did one for her.  And they had me read the provisions relating to the vice presidency in the Constitution.  And there is no inherent power, nor should there be.

But, Mr. President, you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to help govern.  The President’s line often — other people don’t hear it that often, but when someone would say, can you get Joe to do such and such.  He says, I don’t do his schedule.  He doesn’t do mine.

Every single thing you’ve asked me to do, Mr. President, you have trusted me to do.  And that is — that’s a remarkable thing.  I don’t think according to — I see the President of Georgetown here, as well.  I don’t think according to the presidential, vice presidential scholars that kind of relationship has existed. I mean, for real.  It’s all you, Mr. President.  It’s all you.

The reason why when you send me around the world, nothing gets — as my mom would say, gets missed between the cup and the lip, it’s because they know when I speak, I speak for you.

And it’s been easy, Mr. President, because we not only have the same political philosophy and ideology, I tell everybody — and I’ve told them from the beginning.  And I’m not saying this to reciprocate.  I’ve never known a President and few people I’ve ever met my whole life — I can count on less than one hand — who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do.

I know you were upset when I told the story about when Hunt and I were worried that Beau would have to — that he would, as a matter of honor, decide he had to step down as attorney general while he was fighting his battle because he had aphasia.  He was losing his ability to speak, and he didn’t want to ever be in a position where to him everything was about duty and honor.

And I said, and he may resign.  I don’t know I just have the feeling he may.  And Hunt and I had talked about this.  And I said, he doesn’t have any other income, but we’re all right because Hunt’s there, and I can sell the house.

We were having a private lunch like we do once a week.  And this man got up, came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, don’t you sell that house.  You love that house.

I said, it’s no big deal, Mr. President.  He said, I’ll give you the money.  We’ll give you the money.  Promise me, promise me you won’t sell that house.

I remember when Ashley, Mr. President, we were in the Oval, and Ashley was in an elevator, and the elevator plummeted to the — she was with a group of people — I forget which building in Philadelphia, and it plummeted to the ground.  And immediately the Service was worried that she may have been badly hurt.  And I got up to take the call, and you didn’t let up until you made sure your service followed through and made sure everything was all right.

But you know, Mr. President, we kid about both about marrying up.  We both did, that kind of thing.  But the truth of the matter is — I said this to Michelle last night.  Michelle is the finest First Lady in my view that has ever served in the office.  There’s been other great First Ladies, but I really genuinely mean it.  (Applause.)

When I got to meet Michelle’s brother, and he told me about how you guys were raised, and I got to know and love your mom, if your mom — were your mom 15 years older, she could have been my mom.  Literally, the way you were raised, the way we were raised, there wasn’t any difference.  And I knew that this decision to join you, which was the greatest honor of my life, was the right decision on the night we had to go and accept the nomination, the formal — we’d be nominated at the convention.  And Finnegan, who is now 18 years old, was then 10 years old.  And she came to me, and she said, Pop, is it okay if the room that we’re in — Finnegan, Maisy, and Naomi — that we have the beds taken out.  And I said, why?  She said, maybe the Obama girls and your brothers’ children, maybe they would come down, all sleep together in sleeping bags.  (Laughter.)  And I give you my word as a Biden, I knew when I left to go to the convention, open that door, and saw them cuddled together, I knew this was the right decision.  I knew it was the right decision.  I really did.  Because, Mr. President, the same values set — the same values set.

Folks, you know, I joke with my staff that I don’t know why they pay them anything, because they get to advise me.  (Laughter.)  Let me explain what I mean by that.  As the President of the University of Delaware, where my heart resides, and my home campus of Delaware, as he can tell you, it’s — I get to give you advice.  I get to be the last guy in the room and give you advice on the most difficult decisions anyone has to make in the whole world.  But I get to walk out, and you make it all by yourself.  All by yourself.

Harry Truman was right about the buck stopping at the desk.  And I’ve never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never once doubted, on these life and death decisions, I never once doubted that your judgement was flawed — not once.  Not once.

And we’ve disagreed, and we’ve argued, and we’ve raised our voices, one of which we made a deal we’d be completely open like brothers with one another.  But, Mr. President, I watched you under intense fire.  I will venture to say that no President in history has had as many novel crises land on his desk in all of history.  The Civil War was worse, the World War Two was worse, but, Mr. President, almost every one of the crises you faced was a case of first instance — a case of first instance.  And I watched that prodigious mind and that heart as big as your head — I’ve watched you.  I’ve watched how you’ve acted.

When you see a woman or man under intense pressure, you get a measure — and you know that, Michelle, and your daughters know it, as well.  This is a remarkable man.  And I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country.  (Applause.)

You know, I can’t let a comment go by without quoting an Irish poet.  (Laughter.)  Jill and I talk about why you were able to develop the way you developed and with the heart you have.  Michelle and I have talked about it.  I’ve confided in Michelle, I’ve gone to her for advice.  We’ve talked about this man.  You give me insight.  And I think it’s because — Mr. President, you gave me credit for having understanding other people’s misery and suffering.  Mr. President, there is not one single, solitary ounce of entitlement in you, or Michelle, or your beautiful daughters — and you girls are incredible, you really are.  That’s not hyperbole, you really are.  Not one ounce of entitlement.

And Seamus Heaney in one of his poems said — (laughter) — when you can find someone who says it better, use it.  He said, you carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.  You carried your own burdens, and very soon, the creeping symptoms of privilege disappeared.

Mr. President, you have sometimes been like a lone wolf, but you carried yourself in a way that’s pretty remarkable.  The history of the journey — your journey — is something people are going to write about a long time, and I’m not being solicitous when I say this.  And you’re so fortunate, both of you, to have found each other because all that grounding, all that you have, made this guy totally whole.  And it’s pretty amazing.

Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit.  I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the President’s heart.  There is a Talmudic saying that says, what comes from the heart, enters the heart.  Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart — you and your whole family, including Mom — and you occupy it.  It’s an amazing thing that happened.  I knew how smart you were.  I knew how honorable you were.  I knew how decent you were from the couple years we worked in the Senate, and I knew what you were capable of.  But I never fully expected that you’d occupy the Bidens’ heart, from Hunter, to Ashley, my sister, all of us.  All of us.

And Mr. President, I’m indebted to you.  I’m indebted to your friendship, I’m indebted to your family, and as I’ll tell you — I’ll end on a humorous note.  We’re having a lunch — lunches, and mostly it’s what’s ever in either one of our minds.  We’ll talk about family an awful lot.  And about six months in, President looks at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me?  How we’ve become such good friends.  (Laughter.)  And I said, surprised you?  (Laughter.)

But that is candid Obama, and it’s real, and, Mr. President, you know as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you, my whole family will be, and I know, I know it is reciprocal.  And I want to thank you all so very, very, very much.  All of you in here.  (Applause.)

END
4:27 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts May 16, 2016: President barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

Source: WH, 5-16-16

East Room

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  And good morning.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you, Attorney General Lynch, for your words and your leadership.  We’ve got a couple members of Congress here — Frederica Wilson and Chris Collins we want to acknowledge.  And I also want to recognize Director Comey, members of the Fraternal Order of Police, and all the outstanding law enforcement officials who are here from around the country.  I’m proud to stand with you as we celebrate Police Week.  And most of all, I’m proud to be with the heroes on the front row, and with the families who have supported them — and the family of one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s been said that perfect valor is doing without witnesses what you would do if the whole world were watching.  The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition, they did it instinctively. This is an award that none of them sought.  And if they could go back in time, I suspect they’d prefer none of this had happened.

As one of today’s honorees said about his actions, “I could have very well gone my whole career and not dealt with this situation and been very happy with that.”  If they had their way, none of them would have to be here, and so we’re grateful that they are and our entire nation expresses its profound gratitude. More important, we’re so grateful that they were there — some on duty, others off duty, all rising above and beyond the call of duty.  All saving the lives of people they didn’t know.

That distinction — that these 13 officers of valor saved the lives of strangers — is the first of several qualities that they share.  But their bravery, if it had not been for their bravery, we likely would have lost a lot of people — mothers,  fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones.  Thankfully, they are still with their families today because these officers were where they needed to be most, at a critical time:  At a gas station during a routine patrol.  In the middle of a busy hospital.  In a grocery store.  On the campus of a community college.  Near an elementary school where a sheriff’s deputy’s own children were students and his wife taught.  In all of these places, in each of these moments, these officers were true to their oaths.

To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard for their own safety.  They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifles, handguns, and knives.  One officer sustained multiple stab wounds while fighting off an assailant.  Another endured first-degree burns to his arms and face while pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car on a freeway.

Each of them will tell you, very humbly, the same thing — they were just doing their jobs.  They were doing what they had to do, what they were trained to do, like on any other day.  The officer who suffered those terrible burns — he left urgent care and went straight to work.  He had to finish his shift.  That sense of duty and purpose is what these Americans embody.

The truth is, it’s because of your courage, sometimes seen, but sometimes unseen, that the rest of us can go about living our lives like it’s any other day.  Going to work, going to school, spending time with our families, getting home safely.  We so appreciate our public safety officers around the country, from our rookie cadets to our role model of an Attorney General.  Not everyone will wear the medal that we give today, but every day, so many of our public safety officers wear a badge of honor.

The men and women who run toward danger remind us with your courage and humility what the highest form of citizenship looks like.  When you see students and commuters and shoppers at risk, you don’t see these civilians as strangers.  You see them as part of your own family, your own community.  The Scripture teaches us, you love your neighbor as yourself.  And you put others’ safety before your own.  In your proud example of public service, you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.

Today, we also want to acknowledge the profound sacrifices made by your families.  And I had the chance to meet some of them and they were all clearly so proud of you, but we’re very proud of them.  We know that you wait up late, and you’re worried and you’re counting down the minutes until your loved one walks through the door, safe, after a long shift.  We know it never gets easier, and we thank you for that.  And of course, we honor those who didn’t come home, including one hero we honor posthumously today — Sergeant Robert Wilson III.

He gave his life when two men opened fire at a video game store where Sergeant Wilson was buying a son a birthday present. To his family who’s here — his grandmother, Constance, his brother and sister — please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss, how grateful we are for Sergeant Wilson’s service.

We also honor the more than 35 who’ve given their lives in the line of duty so far this year.  One of them, an officer in Virginia named Ashley Marie Guindon, was taken from us on her very first shift.

I’ve seen this sacrifice when I’ve joined some of you at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial not far from here.  We read the names carved on these walls, and we grieve with the families who carry the fallen in their hearts forever.  We’ve been moved, deeply, by their anguish — but also by their pride in the lives their loved ones lived.  And in those moments, we’re reminded of our enduring obligation as citizens — that they sacrificed so much for — that we do right by them and their families.

And medals and ceremonies like today are important, but these aren’t enough to convey the true depth of our gratitude.  Our words will be hollow if they’re not matched by deeds.  So our nation has a responsibility to support those who serve and protect us and keep our streets safe.  We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do the jobs.  That’s the mission of our police task force, which brought together local law enforcement, civil rights and faith leaders, and community members to open dialogue and build trust and find concrete solutions that make your jobs safer.  Our country needs that right now.

We’re going to keep pushing Congress to move forward [in] a bipartisan way to make our criminal justice system fairer and smarter and more cost-effective, and enhance public safety and ensure the men and women in this room have the ability to enforce the law and keep their communities safe.

A few minutes ago, I signed into law a package of bills to protect and honor our law enforcement officers, including one that will help state and local departments buy more bulletproof vests.

Emerson once said, “there is always safety in valor.”  The public safety officers we honor today give those words new meaning, for it’s your courage and quick thinking that gave us our safety.

So we want to thank you for your service.  We want to thank your families for your sacrifice.  I had a chance before I came out here to meet with the recipients, and I told them that, although this particular moment for which you are being honored is remarkable, we also know that every day you go out there you’ve got a tough job.  And we could not be prouder of not only moments like the ones we recognize here today, but just the day-to-day grind — you’re doing your jobs professionally; you’re doing your jobs with character.  We want you to know we could not be prouder of you, and we couldn’t be prouder of your families for all the contributions that you make.

So may God bless you and your families.  May God bless our fallen heroes.  <ay God bless the United States of America.

And it’s now my honor to award these medals as the citations are read.

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Mario Gutierrez.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Mario Gutierrez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida, for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack.  Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Patrolman Lewis Cioci.  Medal of Valor presented to Patrolmen Lewis Ciochi, Johnson City Police Department, New York, for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman.  After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield, Santa Monica Police Department, California, for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage.  Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.

(The medals are awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Major David Huff.  Medal of Valor presented to Major David Huff, Midwest City Police Department, Oklahoma, for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation.  Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knifepoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Donald Thompson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Donald Thompson, Los Angeles Police Department, California, for courageous action to save an accident victim.  While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Coral Walker.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Coral Walker, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker singlehandedly incapacitated a man who had killed an injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Gregory Stevens.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Gregory Stevens, Garland Police Department, Texas, for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.  Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily armed assailants, preventing a deadly act of terrorism.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Mrs. Constance Wilson, accepting on behalf of Sergeant Wilson, III.  Medal of Valor presented to fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson, III, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania, for giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Niel Johnson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Niel Johnson, North Miami Police Department, Florida, for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree.  Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon and apprehended the assailant.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Tyler Call.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Tyler Call, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his heroic actions to save a hostage.  Special Agent Cull, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband, who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Deputy Joey Tortorella.  Medal of Valor presented to Deputy Joey Tortorella, Niagara County, Sheriff’s Office, New York, for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community.  Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, and by doing so, prevented the gunmen from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give one last big round of applause to the recipients of the Medal of Valor.  (Applause.)

Thank you all.  Thank you for your dedication.  Thanks for your service.  You are continuously in our thoughts and prayers, and we are continuously giving thanks for all that you and your families do.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:57 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency June 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Medal of Honor Presentation Sergeant William Shemin and Private Henry Johnson — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Honor

Source: WH, 6-2-15

President Obama Signs Medal of Honor Certificate and Citation

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

11:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please be seated.

Welcome to the White House.

Nearly 100 years ago, a 16-year-old kid from the Midwest named Frank Buckles headed to Europe’s Western Front.  An ambulance driver, he carried the wounded to safety.  He lived to see our troops ship off to another war in Europe.  And one in Korea.  Vietnam.  Iraq.  Afghanistan.  And Frank Buckles became a quietly powerful advocate for our veterans, and remained that way until he passed away four years ago — America’s last surviving veteran of World War I.

On the day Frank was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Vice President Biden and I went to pay our respects.  And we weren’t alone.  Americans from across the country came out to express their gratitude as well.  They were of different ages, different races, some military, some not.  Most had never met Frank.  But all of them braved a cold winter’s day to offer a final tribute to a man with whom they shared a powerful conviction — that no one who serves our country should ever be forgotten.

We are a nation — a people — who remember our heroes.  We take seriously our responsibility to only send them when war is necessary.  We strive to care for them and their families when they come home.  We never forget their sacrifice.  And we believe that it’s never too late to say thank you.  That’s why we’re here this morning.

Today, America honors two of her sons who served in World War I, nearly a century ago.  These two soldiers were roughly the same age, dropped into the battlefields of France at roughly the same time.  They both risked their own lives to save the lives of others.  They both left us decades ago, before we could give them the full recognition that they deserved.  But it’s never too late to say thank you.  Today, we present America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to Private Henry Johnson and Sergeant William Shemin.

I want to begin by welcoming and thanking everyone who made this day possible — family, friends, admirers.  Some of you have worked for years to honor these heroes, to give them the honor they should have received a long time ago.  We are grateful that you never gave up.  We are appreciative of your efforts.

As a young man, Henry Johnson joined millions of other African-Americans on the Great Migration from the rural South to the industrial North — a people in search of a better life.  He landed in Albany, where he mixed sodas at a pharmacy, worked in a coal yard and as a porter at a train station.  And when the United States entered World War I, Henry enlisted.  He joined one of only a few units that he could:  the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment.  The Harlem Hellfighters.  And soon, he was headed overseas.

At the time, our military was segregated.  Most black soldiers served in labor battalions, not combat units.  But General Pershing sent the 369th to fight with the French Army, which accepted them as their own.  Quickly, the Hellfighters lived up to their name.  And in the early hours of May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson became a legend.

His battalion was in Northern France, tucked into a trench. Some slept — but he couldn’t.  Henry and another soldier, Needham Roberts, stood sentry along No Man’s Land.  In the pre-dawn, it was pitch black, and silent.  And then — a click — the sound of wire cutters.

A German raiding party — at least a dozen soldiers, maybe more — fired a hail of bullets.  Henry fired back until his rifle was empty.  Then he and Needham threw grenades.  Both of them were hit.  Needham lost consciousness.  Two enemy soldiers began to carry him away while another provided cover, firing at Henry.  But Henry refused to let them take his brother in arms.  He shoved another magazine into his rifle.  It jammed.  He turned the gun around and swung it at one of the enemy, knocking him down.  Then he grabbed the only weapon he had left — his Bolo knife — and went to rescue Needham.  Henry took down one enemy soldier, then the other.  The soldier he’d knocked down with his rifle recovered, and Henry was wounded again.  But armed with just his knife, Henry took him down, too.

And finally, reinforcements arrived and the last enemy soldier fled.  As the sun rose, the scale of what happened became clear.  In just a few minutes of fighting, two Americans had defeated an entire raiding party.  And Henry Johnson saved his fellow soldier from being taken prisoner.

Henry became one of our most famous soldiers of the war.  His picture was printed on recruitment posters and ads for Victory War Stamps.  Former President Teddy Roosevelt wrote that he was one of the bravest men in the war.  In 1919, Henry rode triumphantly in a victory parade.  Crowds lined Fifth Avenue for miles, cheering this American soldier.

Henry was one of the first Americans to receive France’s highest award for valor.  But his own nation didn’t award him anything –- not even the Purple Heart, though he had been wounded 21 times.  Nothing for his bravery, though he had saved a fellow solder at great risk to himself.  His injuries left him crippled. He couldn’t find work.  His marriage fell apart.  And in his early 30s, he passed away.

Now, America can’t change what happened to Henry Johnson.  We can’t change what happened to too many soldiers like him, who went uncelebrated because our nation judged them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.  But we can do our best to make it right.  In 1996, President Clinton awarded Henry Johnson a Purple Heart.  And today, 97 years after his extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness, I’m proud to award him the Medal of Honor.

We are honored to be joined today by some very special guests –- veterans of Henry’s regiment, the 369th.  Thank you, to each of you, for your service.  And I would ask Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson of the New York National Guard to come forward and accept this medal on Private Johnson’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America authorized buy Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private Henry Johnson, United States Army.  Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France.

In the early morning hours, Private Johnson and another soldier were on sentry duty at a forward outpost when they received a surprise attack from the German raiding party consisting of at least 12 soldiers.  While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds, Private Johnson mounted a brave retaliation, resulting in several enemy casualties.  When his fellow soldier was badly wounded and being carried away by the enemy, Private Johnson exposed himself to great danger by advancing from his position to engage the two enemy captors in hand-to-hand combat.  Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded himself, Private Johnson continued fighting, defeating the two captors and rescuing the wounded soldier.  Displaying great courage, he continued to hold back the larger enemy force until the defeated enemy retreated, leaving behind a large cache of weapons and equipment and providing valuable intelligence.

Without Private Johnson’s quick actions and continued fighting, even in the face of almost certain death, the enemy might have succeeded in capturing prisoners in the outpost and abandoning valuable intelligence.  Private Johnson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, William Shemin loved sports — football, wrestling, boxing, swimming.  If it required physical and mental toughness, and it made your heart pump, your muscles ache, he was all in.  As a teenager, he even played semi-pro baseball.  So when America entered the war, and posters asked if he was tough enough, there was no question about it — he was going to serve.  Too young to enlist?  No problem.  He puffed his chest and lied about his age.  (Laughter.)  And that’s how William Shemin joined the 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, and shipped out for France.

On August 7th, 1918, on the Western Front, the Allies were hunkered down in one trench, the Germans in another, separated by about 150 yards of open space — just a football field and a half.  But that open space was a bloodbath.  Soldier after soldier ventured out, and soldier after soldier was mowed down.  So those still in the trenches were left with a terrible choice: die trying to rescue your fellow soldier, or watch him die, knowing that part of you will die along with him.

William Shemin couldn’t stand to watch.  He ran out into the hell of No Man’s Land and dragged a wounded comrade to safety.  Then he did it again, and again.  Three times he raced through heavy machine gunfire.  Three times he carried his fellow soldiers to safety.

The battle stretched on for days.  Eventually, the platoon’s leadership broke down.  Too many officers had become casualties. So William stepped up and took command.  He reorganized the depleted squads.  Every time there was a lull in combat, he led rescues of the wounded.  As a lieutenant later described it, William was “cool, calm, intelligent, and personally utterly fearless.”  That young kid who lied about his age grew up fast in war.  And he received accolades for his valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross.

When he came home, William went to school for forestry and began a nursery business in the Bronx.  It was hard work, lots of physical labor — just like he liked it.  He married a red-head, blue-eyed woman named Bertha Schiffer, and they had three children who gave them 14 grandchildren.  He bought a house upstate, where the grandkids spent their summers swimming and riding horses.  He taught them how to salute.  He taught them the correct way to raise the flag every morning and lower and fold it every night.  He taught them how to be Americans.

William stayed in touch with his fellow veterans, too.  And when World War II came, William went and talked to the Army about signing up again.  By then, his war injuries had given him a terrible limp.  But he treated that limp just like he treated his age all those years ago — pay no attention to that, he said.  He knew how to build roads, he knew camouflage — maybe there was a place for him in this war, too.  To Bertha’s great relief, the Army said that the best thing William could do for his country was to keep running his business and take care of his family.  (Laughter.)

His daughter, Elsie — who’s here today with what seems like a platoon of Shemins — (laughter) — has a theory about what drove her father to serve.  He was the son of Russian immigrants, and he was devoted to his Jewish faith.  “His family lived through the pogroms,” she says.  “They saw towns destroyed and children killed.  And then they came to America.  And here they found a haven — a home — success — and my father and his sister both went to college.  All that, in one generation!  That’s what America meant to him.  And that’s why he’d do anything for this country.”

Well, Elsie, as much as America meant to your father, he means even more to America.  It takes our nation too long sometimes to say so — because Sergeant Shemin served at a time when the contributions and heroism of Jewish Americans in uniform were too often overlooked.  But William Shemin saved American lives.  He represented our nation with honor.   And so it is my privilege, on behalf of the American people, to make this right and finally award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin. I want to invite his daughters — Elsie and Ina — 86 and 83, and gorgeous — (laughter) — to accept this medal on their father’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin, United States Army.

Sergeant William Shemin distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy on the Vesle River, near Bazoches, France from August 7th to August 9th, 1918.

Sergeant Shemin upon three different occasions left cover and crossed an open space of 150 yards, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue wounded.  After officers and seniors noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Sergeant Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until wounded on August 9th.

Sergeant Shemin’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it has taken a long time for Henry Johnson and William Shemin to receive the recognition they deserve.  And there are surely others whose heroism is still unacknowledged and uncelebrated.  So we have work to do, as a nation, to make sure that all of our heroes’ stories are told.   And we’ll keep at it, no matter how long it takes.  America is the country we are today because of people like Henry and William — Americans who signed up to serve, and rose to meet their responsibilities — and then went beyond.  The least we can do is to say:  We know who you are.  We know what you did for us.  We are forever grateful.

May God bless the fallen of all of our wars.  May He watch over our veterans and their families and all those who serve today.  May God bless the United States of America.

With that, I’d ask the Chaplain to return to the podium for a benediction.

(The benediction is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  With that, we conclude the formal ceremony.  But I welcome everybody to join in a wonderful reception.  And let’s give our Medal of Honor winners one big round of applause. (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:48 A.M. EDT

Political Musings November 21, 2013: Obama honors John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Political Headlines August 26, 2013: Obama Issues Medal of Honor to Afghan War Veteran

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Issues Medal of Honor to Afghan War Veteran

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama on Monday bestowed the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, praising his courageous actions during one of the most intense battles in Afghanistan and crediting him with speaking openly about the invisible wounds of war….READ MORE

Political Headlines August 9, 2013: White House Announces 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Announcing the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

Source: WH, 8-8-13

President Barack Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton before an event in McLean, Va.President Barack Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton before an event in McLean, Va., Sunday, April 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What do baseball player Ernie Banks, former President Bill Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey all have in common? Later this year, they will be honored by President Obama as three of the sixteen recipients of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy signed an Executive Order establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the Nation’s highest civilian honor. President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours. This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”

President Obama greets former astronaut Sally Ride at the launch of the "Educate to Innovate"Nov. 23, 2009President Obama greets former astronaut Sally Ride prior to the launch of the “Educate to Innovate” Campaign for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (Stem) Education, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Nov. 23, 2009. (Official White House Photo)

This year, the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be awarded to:

  • Ernie Banks
  • Ben Bradlee
  • Bill Clinton
  • Daniel Inouye
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • Richard Lugar
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Mario Molina
  • Sally Ride
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Arturo Sandoval
  • Dean Smith
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian
  • Patricia Wald
  • Oprah Winfrey

Learn more about each of the 2013 Medal of Freedom recipients here.

Political Musings July 18, 2013: President Barack Obama honors Former President George H.W. Bush for Points of Light award

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama honors Former President George H.W. Bush for Points of Light award (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The 41st president of the United States George H.W. Bush returned to the White House Monday, July 15, 2013 to attend the ceremony for the 5000th Points of Light award recipients. Bush, a Republican created the award for volunteers…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 15, 2013: President Obama and President George H.W. Bush’s Speeches at Points of Light Award Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President George H.W. Bush at Points of Light Award Ceremony

Source: WH, 7-15-13

President Barack Obama and former President George H. W. Bush present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Outreach Inc. co-founders

President Barack Obama and former President George H. W. Bush present the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award to Outreach Inc. co-founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, winners of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award, in the East Room of the White House, July 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

East Room

1:55 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  And on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.

Twenty-three years ago, President George H.W. Bush began a tradition.  He knew that across the country every day, Americans were finding ways to serve others and give back to their communities — often with very few resources and very little recognition.  And President Bush knew that their good works were valuable to the people they helped — but beyond that, he knew that their spirit of service was vital to our national character.  So he created an award, the Daily Point of Light Award, to recognize Americans who serve their neighbors and communities in innovative ways that inspire us all.

And for the rest of his presidency, nearly every single day, President Bush gave someone a Daily Point of Light Award.  And after he left the White House, he kept going and going and going — in between skydiving and other activities — (laughter) — he kept going, which should come as no surprise, since we’re talking about somebody who has served his country in such extraordinary ways.  And when you do a parachute jump at the age of 85, not just a parachute jump, but another parachute jump — I believe his seventh — this is somebody who’s not going to slow down any time soon.

So, today, we are extraordinarily honored to be joined by the family that helped build the Points of Light Foundation into the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.  President Bush, Mrs. Bush, Neil Bush — we want to welcome you.  And we also want to recognize Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light.  It’s worth an applause.  (Applause.)

Now, this is not the first time President Bush and I have come together for an event like this.  Four years ago, I went down to Texas A&M University, where President Bush has his library, to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Points of Light.  And I appreciated the warm welcome — by which I mean the extremely loud “howdy” that I received.  (Laughter.)  I was deeply impressed by how invested the students there are in community service.  But, most of all, I was moved by how much they love President Bush.

And now we’ve come together to mark another milestone.  As of this minute, 4,999 Points of Light awards have been presented to individuals and organizations across this country.  And so now I have the honor of joining President Bush in presenting number 5,000.  (Applause.)  Number 5,000.  (Applause.)

About 10 years ago, Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton were getting ready to retire.  They had been farming for years.  They had earned a break.  They planned to sail around the world.  And then their friend told them about a special place that they should visit along the way:  In a village in Tanzania, a volunteer mission was helping to renovate an HIV-AIDS clinic.  And Floyd and Kathy thought it sounded like a worthwhile detour.

When they arrived in Tanzania, the country was in the third year of a brutal drought.  People were starving and dying.  Many of them were children.  And having seen this, Kathy and Floyd simply had to do something about it.  And so their vision of a leisurely retirement was replaced by a new mission:  fighting global hunger.

Today, the nonprofit they created, Outreach, has distributed free meals to hungry children here in the United States and in more than 15 countries worldwide — to date, more than 233 million meals.  They’ve gone to see many of the kids that they met in Tanzania grow up healthy and strong.  And this work, they say, is the most rewarding thing they’ve ever done.  And I have to say, having just been to Tanzania with Michelle, we can attest to how important this kind of work is, how it changes lives.

It’s also fitting that later this week, on July 18th, people around the world will celebrate the legacy of the magnificent public servant, Nelson Mandela, by performing acts of public and community service.  And as people look for examples, Outreach provides an extraordinary demonstration of how service can lift people’s lives.

And so if the purpose of this award is to celebrate Americans who work to make our country and world a better place — not for their own advantage or for any ulterior motives, but just to serve, pure and simple — I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Kathy Hamilton and Floyd Hammer.

Now, before we actually present this award, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to honor the man who made this all possible.  He hates this, but I’m going to do it anyway.  (Laughter.)

Much has been said about President Bush’s own extraordinary life of service, but I’m not sure everybody fully appreciates how much he’s done to strengthen our country’s tradition of service.  In addition to this award, he created the first White House office dedicated to promoting volunteerism, and he championed and signed the National and Community Service Act.  By Washington standards, it was a modest law.  It involved little money; President Bush signed it with little fanfare.  But looking back, we see that it sparked a national movement.  By laying the groundwork for the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, it gave tens of millions of Americans meaningful opportunities to serve.
And today, thanks to those programs and others like them, and thanks to the passion of leaders like President Bush and citizens who found the same passion over the years, volunteerism has gone from something some people do some of the time to something lots of people do as a regular part of their lives.

Since 1989, the number of Americans who volunteer has grown by more than 25 million.  Service is up across age groups and across regions.  It’s now a graduation requirement in many high schools and colleges.  It’s embedded in the culture of businesses large and small.  And speaking for my family, volunteering has brought joy and meaning to Michelle and me and our daughters over the years, and I know that’s the case for many of your families, too.

This national tradition may seem perfectly ordinary to many Americans, especially those who have grown up during this period.  But, in fact, it reflects tremendous progress.  And today we can say that our country is a better and a stronger force for good in the world because, more and more, we are a people that serve.  And for that, we have to thank President Bush, and his better half, Barbara, who is just as committed as her husband to service, and has dedicated her life to it as well.  (Applause.)

The presidents who followed President Bush have had the good sense to continue this work — and not just because one of them calls him Dad.  (Laughter.)  Even after leaving office, President Clinton and both President Bushes have come together to help people affected by natural disasters here at home and around the world — a reminder that service is not a Democratic or a Republican value, but it’s a core part of being an American.  And at the White House today, we’re proud to carry forward that legacy.

I created the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to find new ways to use innovation to strengthen service.  We expanded the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships — originally created by President George W. Bush — which works closely with religious and community organizations across the country to help Americans in need.

And today I want to announce a new task force, with representatives from Cabinet agencies and other departments across the government, to take a fresh look at how we can better support national service — in particular, on some of our most important national priorities:  improving schools, recovering from disasters and mentoring our kids.  And this task force will be led by my team here at the White House, along with Wendy Spencer, who is here — the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service — who previously led the volunteer commission in Florida for Governor Jeb Bush.  So we’ve got a whole family thing working.  (Laughter.)

In times of tight budgets and some very tough problems, we know that the greatest resource we have is the limitless energy and ingenuity of our citizens.  And when we harness that energy and create more opportunities for Americans to serve, we pay tribute to the extraordinary example set by President Bush.

And just to close on a personal note, Mr. President, I am one of millions of people who have been inspired by your passion and your commitment.  You have helped so many Americans discover that they, too, have something to contribute — that they, too, have the power to make a difference.

You’ve described for us those thousand points of light — all the people and organizations spread out all across the country who are like stars brightening the lives of those around them.  But given the humility that’s defined your life, I suspect it’s harder for you to see something that’s clear to everybody else around you, and that’s how bright a light you shine — how your vision and example have illuminated the path for so many others, how your love of service has kindled a similar love in the hearts of millions here at home and around the world.  And, frankly, just the fact that you’re such a gentleman and such a good and kind person I think helps to reinforce that spirit of service.

So on behalf of us all, let me just say that we are surely a kinder and gentler nation because of you and we can’t thank you enough.  (Applause.)

So it is now my great pleasure to join President Bush and all of you in presenting this extraordinary award to an extraordinary couple who have done so much for so many people.  We are very grateful to them.  Floyd and Kathy, will you please step up and receive your award.  (Applause.)

(The award is presented.)

PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH:  My remarks are simply to say something nice about Neil, my son.  (Laughter.)  It’s not hard to do, and he’s been very active in this whole concept of volunteering, helping others.  And so it’s my privilege to introduce Neil, and first, of course, thank the President and Mrs. Obama for this wonderful hospitality.  It’s like coming home for Barbara and me with the rest of you just coming to this magnificent house and being greeted by this superb hospitality — knows no bounds.

So thank you all very much.  Now, Neil.  (Applause.)

*****

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you very much, Michelle, for your outstanding work.  To all the Points of Light Award recipients, we’re proud of you, congratulations, and keep up the great work.  You inspire us and make us want to do that much more, especially when you see young people who are already making such a difference and such an impact, it gives you enormous confidence that America, for all its challenges, will always meet them because we’ve got this incredible character.

And with that, what I want to do is once again thank President and Mrs. Bush for their outstanding leadership.  We are so grateful to both of you.  I want to thank Neil for his leadership, and I want to make sure that everybody enjoys a reception.  I suspect the food may be pretty good.  (Laughter.)

So thank you very much, all of you, for being here.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
2:25 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines May 23, 2013: Stolen Valor Act Targeting Phony Military Heroes Passed by Congress Awaits President Barack Obama’s Signature

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Targeting Phony Heroes: Stolen Valor Act Awaits Obama’s Signature

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-23-13

Four days before the nation’s veterans make their way down hometown streets in a flurry of star spangled confetti for Memorial Day, a bill to protect war heroes from impostors is making its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2013, introduced in January by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), is the latest attempt by Congress to push through legislation targeting military fakers….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 11, 2013: President Barack Obama Honors Nation’s Top Police Officers at White House

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Honors Nation’s Top Police Officers at White House

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-11-13

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama honored several dozen of the nation’s top law enforcement officials at the White House on Saturday, saying they “embody America at its best and at its bravest.”

“We know that when we need you most, you’ll be ready to dash into danger, to protect our lives, even if it means putting your lives on the line,” he said as the National Association of Police Organization’s TOP COPS Award recipients stood behind him during an event in the East Room of the White House. “That’s what these folks are all about. That’s what the men and women standing behind me have proven — their heart, their courage, their dedication.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 8, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at the International Women of Courage Awards

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at the International Women of Courage Awards

Source: WH, 3-8-13

State Department
Washington D.C.

2:57 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Well, let me begin by thanking Under Secretary Sherman for that very kind and gracious introduction, but also for your leadership on behalf of our country.

I also want to thank Secretary Kerry for hosting us here today.  Needless to say, we are all thrilled to have you as our new Secretary of State, for no other reason than I love your wife.  You do know that.  (Applause.)  I love our Secretary, but Teresa Heinz Kerry is another woman of courage who has been just a dear friend and supporter to me for a very long time, and it is just a thrill to have you both in this role.  Congratulations, and thank you.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize Secretary Sebelius, who can also do the dougie — (laughter) — I’ve seen it — and all of the administration officials, members of Congress and members of the diplomatic community who have joined us today.

And of course, I want to thank all of you for joining us this afternoon as we celebrate International Women’s Day.  This is the fifth time I’ve had the privilege to take part in this event, and every year, I look forward to it because it shows us what our most basic values look like when they’re put to the test.

When these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done.  When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice.  And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change.

And that is truly the power of the International Women of Courage Award — that this is not simply an honor bestowed upon a few, but a call for all of us to open our eyes to the injustices around us, and to ask ourselves just what kind of courage we’ve got inside our own hearts.

And that is the lesson we can learn from the journalist who speaks out against torture and racism; from the poet who takes to Twitter to make a stand against oppression; from the mother whose son was murdered, but channeled her grief into a nationwide movement for change.  That is the spirit that we celebrate today.  And that is the potential that lies within every woman and every girl — the potential to stand up, to demand action, and to build a better world for our next generation.

And that is why we have once again invited young women from our White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative to join us here today.  I’m going to ask them to stand, because I do like to embarrass you, yes.  (Applause.)  They are high school students from right here in the D.C. area.  And to my mentees, I just — the one message to you is to truly listen and to let these women be your guide.  Because in them, you can see that no matter who you are — and we always say this — or where you come from, if you’re willing to dig deep enough, and fight hard enough, and believe strongly enough in yourself, then you can truly change the world.  That’s why we want you to be here every year.  And the potential — absolutely.  (Applause.)

And the potential that I see in not just all of you, but all of our young women all across this world, that reminds me that the rest of us must work to lift up the women and girls in our own communities — because we know that when women and girls rise, their communities and their countries rise with them.

That is as true in Nigeria and Vietnam as it is in Honduras and Syria and right here in the United States.  We saw that just yesterday, when my husband signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  (Applause.)

So I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to ensure that victims of domestic abuse will always know that they have somewhere to turn and someone on their side.  And in the months ahead and the years ahead, we must all do our part to build upon efforts like that one and learn from the example of the women we honor today.  Because if we tackle the injustices and challenges in our own lives with even a fraction of their strength and dedication, then I know that we can meet any challenge that comes our way.

If we encourage the young people around us to fight every single day for what they know is right, if we break down any barrier that stands in the way of a young woman getting her education or believing she can achieve her dreams, then I am confident that we will finally unlock the promise of our next generation.  And then, no matter what part of the world we call home, we will all be better off.  We will all be stronger and freer.  And we will all be more prepared not only to solve the problems we face today, but to overcome any obstacle we can imagine in the years and decades ahead.

So thank you.  Thank you all for your tremendous contributions to our world.  We are so honored and privileged and grateful.  God bless you all.  (Applause.)

And now it is my honor to turn this program over to Secretary Kerry.  (Applause.)

END
3:02 P.M. EST

Political Headlines February 15, 2013: President Barack Obama honors six educators killed in Newtown massacre with Presidential Citizens Medal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama honors six educators killed in Newtown massacre

Source: Reuters, 2-15-13

President Barack Obama marked a poignant moment in his push to curb gun violence as he awarded presidential medals posthumously on Friday to six educators killed in the Newtown school massacre, saying they gave their lives to protect “the most innocent and helpless among us.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Presentation of 2012 Presidential Citizens Medals Honoring Sandy Hook Elementary Educators Killed in Massacre

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of 2012 Presidential Citizens Medals

Source: WH, 2-15-13 

East Room

11:30 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  Well, it is a pleasure to welcome some of our nation’s finest citizens here to the people’s house.  And let me be the first to congratulate each of you and your family members for the receipt of the highest honor a civilian can receive –- the Citizens Medal.

We host a lot of events at the White House but I have to admit this is one of my favorites, because it’s a moment when, as a people, we get to recognize some extraordinary men and women who have gone above and beyond for their country and for their fellow citizens — often without fanfare; often with not a lot of attention; very rarely for any profit.  You do it because it’s the right thing to do, because you want to give back.  And today, we honor you.  We celebrate you.  And, most of all, we have a chance to say thank you.  Because all of us are what the rest of us aspire to be.

In America, we have the benefit of living in this big and diverse nation.  We’re home to 315 million people who come from every background, who worship every faith, who hold every single point of view.  But what binds us together, what unites us is a single sacred word:  citizen.

It’s a word that, as I said in my State of the Union Address, doesn’t just describe our nationality or our legal status, the fact that we hold a passport.  It defines our way our life.  It captures our belief in something bigger than ourselves — our willingness to accept certain obligations to one another, and to embrace the idea that we’re all in this together; that out of many, we are one.  It’s the thing that Tocqueville noticed about America when he first came to visit — these folks participate, they get involved, they have a point of view; they don’t just wait for somebody else to do something, they go out there and do it, and they join and they become part of groups and they mobilize and they organize.

That’s who we are, that’s in our DNA.  That’s what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.  We’ve all got busy lives.  We’ve got bills to pay.  We’ve got kids to carpool, errands to get done.  And in the midst of all the running around, it would be easy — and even understandable — for folks to just focus on themselves, to worry about our own lives, to look down the street and see a neighbor in need and say, “I’d like to help but I’ve got problems of my own.”  To look across town at a community that’s in despair and say, “That’s just too big a challenge for us to be able to take on.”

That’s not who we are.  That’s not what we do.  That’s not what built this country.  In this country, we look out for one another.  We get each other’s backs, especially in times of hardship or challenge.  It’s part of the reason why applications to AmeriCorps are at an all-time high.  That’s why volunteering in America is at the highest level it’s been in years.  And I know that makes Harris proud to hear.

Harris Wofford has devoted his entire life to creating opportunities for Americans to serve.  And the reason it’s such a privilege for me to share the stage with him and all the others who are participating here today, is because you’ve taken commitment to a whole new level.  Every day, you’re out there righting wrongs.  Healing hurts.  Changing lives.

And when Janice Jackson was hit by a car at the age of 24, she was told by her doctors that the only thing she would ever move again were her shoulders.  After suffering an injury like that, nobody would have faulted Janice for just focusing on herself.  But as she recovered, and she regained her strength, she resolved to give some of that strength to others in need.  Janice said that “from a wheelchair, I decided to devote my life to women with disabilities…to tell them that even though you have limitations, you also have abilities.”  And every day through her mentorship and through her advocacy, that’s exactly what she’s doing.

When Adam Burke returned from Iraq, he had more than earned the right to just focus on himself.  He had served our nation with honor; a recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds he received while rescuing a comrade from enemy fire.  Because of that attack –- because of the shrapnel that tore through his head and his legs –- when Adam came home, he came home a wounded warrior, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  But a few years later, Adam found himself back on the family farm, and he noticed that working the land was therapeutic.  His coordination improved.  He was able to put aside his cane.  So he decided to use farming to help other veterans with similar injuries see similar benefits.  And by starting Veterans Farm, he’s doing that every day.

When Jeanne Manford learned that her son Morty had been badly beaten up at a gay rights demonstration, nobody would have faulted her for bringing him home, holding him close, just focusing on her child.  This was back in 1972.  There was a lot of hate, a lot of vitriol towards gays and lesbians and anyone who supported them.  But instead, she wrote to the local newspaper and took to the streets with a simple message:  No matter who her son was — no matter who he loved –- she loved him, and wouldn’t put up with this kind of nonsense.  And in that simple act, she inspired a movement and gave rise to a national organization that has given so much support to parents and families and friends, and helped to change this country.  We lost Jeanne last month, but her legacy carries on, every day, in the countless lives that she touched.

And then when Dawn Hochsprung, and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino, Anne Marie Murphy — when they showed up for work at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14th of last year, they expected a day like any other — doing what was right for their kids; spent a chilly morning readying classrooms and welcoming young students — they had no idea that evil was about to strike.  And when it did, they could have taken shelter by themselves.  They could have focused on their own safety, on their own wellbeing.  But they didn’t.  They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care.  They gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us.

And that’s what we honor today — the courageous heart, the selfless spirit, the inspiring actions of extraordinary Americans, extraordinary citizens.

We are a nation of 315 million people.  Out of all these folks, around 6,000 were nominated for this medal.  And today, you’re the ones receiving it not just for what you do, but for what you represent — for the shining example that you set every single day and the inspiration that you give each of us as fellow citizens, including your President.

So congratulations to the recipients.  And now, I would like our military aide to read the citations.

MILITARY AIDE:  The Presidential Citizens Medal recipients:

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.  (Applause.)  As one of America’s most respected voices on child development, Dr. Brazelton has dedicated his life to transforming pediatric care.  His pioneering work has given generations of parents the chance to take control of their children’s health from day one.  Alongside his duties as a researcher and educator, he fought to secure some of the 20th century’s essential safeguards for families, including guaranteed maternal leave.  For his tireless advocacy on behalf of families everywhere, the United States honors Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.  (Applause.)

Adam D. Burke.  (Applause.)  During his ninth year of service in the Army, Adam Burke was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after saving a comrade from a mortar blast in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle.  He received a Purple Heart for his heroism.  Unwilling to stop serving his country, he turned his family farm into Veterans Farm, a space for wounded warriors to heal by working the land and finding stability on friendly soil.  The United States honors Adam D. Burke for his extraordinary service to his country and fellow members of the 9/11 Generation.  (Applause.)

Mary Jo Copeland.  (Applause.)  Driven by her faith and a fierce commitment to her community, Mary Jo Copeland has spent more than a quarter-century lifting up the underserved.  Alongside her husband, she grew Sharing and Caring Hands from a small storefront operation in downtown Minneapolis into a charity that provides thousands of men, women and children the chance to live in health and dignity.  Her unyielding vision for stronger neighborhoods has inspired people nationwide, and her compassion for the poor and the marginalized speaks to the depth of the human spirit.  The United States honors Mary Jo Copeland for sparking hope in those who need it most.  (Applause.)

Michael Dorman.  (Applause.)  When Michael Dorman saw disabled veterans struggling to secure the opportunities they had given so much to preserve, he knew he had to act.  A 20-year veteran of the Coast Guard, he founded Military Missions in Action to help veterans with disabilities live independently and support those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.  His organization has completed more than 100 home improvement projects across the state of North Carolina and shipped thousands of care packages to service members in the line of duty.  The United States honors Michael Dorman for his exceptional service to our Armed Forces and our Nation.  (Applause.)

Maria Gomez.  (Applause.)  Born in Colombia and brought up in Washington, D.C., Maria Gomez has dedicated her life to providing high-quality health care to the community that raised her.  Guided by her vision, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care has delivered exceptional outcomes to disadvantaged populations for more than two decades.  Her organization’s integrated approach to medicine, education and social services extends a lifeline to tens of thousands every year, giving families across the D.C. region a chance at a brighter future.  The United States honors Maria Gomez for sharing her strength with the underserved.  (Applause.)

Pamela Green-Jackson.  (Applause.)  As Pamela Green-Jackson mourned the loss of her only brother to obesity-related illness, she vowed to honor his memory by saving others from the same fate.  The result, Youth Becoming Healthy, has equipped young men and women in Georgia schools with the knowledge and opportunity they need to get a strong start in life.  Pamela’s dedication to combating childhood obesity reaffirms our belief that as a nation, we have no higher calling than caring for our children.  For putting our sons and daughters on the path to better health, the United States honors Pamela Green-Jackson.  (Applause.)

Janice Yvette Jackson.  (Applause.)  After Janice Jackson was struck by an oncoming car when she was 24 years old, doctors told her she would never be able to move her limbs again.  Battling against the odds, she regained control of her left arm and reached for the promise of the years ahead.  As a mentor, a counselor and the founder of Women Embracing Abilities Now, she has drawn from the depth of her experience to empower women with disabilities and advocate passionately on their behalf.  The United States honors Janice Yvette Jackson for turning personal adversity into a powerful force for change.  (Applause.)

Patience A. Lehrman.  (Applause.)  A first-generation immigrant from Cameroon, Patience Lehrman embodies what it means to be an American citizen.  Recognizing that immigrants have always made our country stronger, she has worked to make America a land of greater opportunity for all who call it home.  Under her leadership, Project SHINE has helped thousands of aging immigrants and refugees build deeper ties to their communities by connecting them with college students nationwide.  The United States honors Patience A. Lehrman for reaffirming the truth inscribed on our nation’s seal:  that out of many, we are one.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Jeanne Manford, her daughter Suzanne Swan.  (Applause.)  In an era when peaceful protests were met with violence and coming out was a radical act, Jeanne Manford knew she had to stand by her son, Morty.  Side-by-side, they marched proudly down the streets of New York on Stonewall’s anniversary, calling upon other parents of gay and lesbian Americans to show their children the same love and acceptance.  Jeanne’s courage lives on in progress she fought for and in PFLAG, the organization she founded, which today claims more than 200,000 members and supporters in over 350 chapters.  For insisting that equality knows no bounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, the United States honors Jeanne Manford.  (Applause.)

Billy Mills.  (Applause.)  As a boy growing up on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Billy Mills rose above adversity by dedicating himself to a dream.  He realized the height of his ambition at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he ran what was then the fastest 10,000 meters in Olympic history.  Since then, Billy has spent 26 years lifting other young men and women toward their aspirations through Running Strong for American Indian Youth.  His organization has championed wellness and unlocked opportunity in Native American communities across our country.  The United States honors Billy Mills for inspiring young people to find the best in themselves.  (Applause.)

Terry T. Shima.  (Applause.)  During World War II, Terry Shima served in the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which became the most decorated unit of its size in American history.  Responsible for securing the 442nd’s legacy, Terry ensured that returning heroes received a welcome befitting their service and sacrifice.  As the Executive Director of the Japanese American Veterans Association, he committed himself to preserving the stories of servicemembers who fought and bled overseas, even while many of their families were relocated to internment camps at home.  For strengthening the sacred trust between America and its veterans, the United States honors Terry T. Shima.  (Applause.)

Harris Wofford.  (Applause.)  Harris Wofford has spent more than 50 years empowering ordinary citizens to make extraordinary change.  A friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and an advisor to President John F. Kennedy, Harris fought alongside civil rights leaders to end segregation and advance the march of justice.  During his time at the White House, with the Peace Corps, as a Senator, and leading the Corporation for National and Community Service, he gave generations of Americans the chance to serve their country.  The United States honors Harris Wofford for upholding national service as one of our Nation’s highest causes.  (Applause.)

The Presidential Citizens Medal is awarded to Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto for dedicating themselves to their students and to the community of Newtown, Connecticut.  Some had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School for only weeks; others were preparing to retire after decades of service.  All worked long past the school bell to give the children in their care a future worth their talents.  On December 14, 2012, unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown, etching the names of these six courageous women into the heart of our nation forever.  The United States honors Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto for their extraordinary commitment to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Accepting on behalf of Rachel D’Avino — her mother, Mary D’Avino and sister, Sarah D’Avino.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Dawn Hochsprung — her daughter, Erica Lafferty, and mother, Cheryl Lafferty.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Anne Marie Murphy — her husband, Michael Murphy, and daughters, Paige and Colleen Murphy.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Lauren Rousseau — her parents, Terry and Gilles Rousseau.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Mary Sherlach — her husband, Bill Sherlach, and daughters, Katy Sherlach and Maura Schwartz.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of Victoria Soto — her parents, Donna and Carlos Soto.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me close by just saying a few words of thanks — first of all, to Wendy and all the people at the Corporation for National and Community Service, thank you for all that you do to make our communities and our country stronger.  We’re very grateful.

To those who nominated these outstanding individuals — thank you for taking the time to share their stories.  The competition was stiff.  And your words gave life to their work.

To all the family and friends who are here celebrating with the winners, thank you for the love and support that you provide to them every single day, because they couldn’t do what they do unless somebody had that love and support for them.  I know the awardees would agree that this honor belongs not just to themselves but to everybody who supports them.

And finally, to the winners of this year’s Citizens Medal, we want to congratulate you once again.  A special note just to the families who are here from Sandy Hook — we are so blessed to be with you.  I’ve gotten to know many of you during the course of some very difficult weeks.  And your courage and love for each other and your communities shines through every single day.  And we could not be more blessed and grateful for your loved ones who gave everything they had on behalf of our kids.

On behalf of a grateful nation, thanks to all of you for showing us what it means to be a citizen of this country that we love.  Hopefully, we will all draw inspiration from this and remember why it is that we’re lucky to be living in the greatest nation on Earth.  Thank you all for coming and enjoy the reception.  (Applause.)

END
12:02 P.M. EST

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