Full Text Obama Presidency June 7, 2014: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Memorial Service for Dr. Maya Angelou

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Memorial Service for Dr. Maya Angelou

Source: WH, 6-7-14

Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

11:42 A.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you so much. (Applause.) My heart is so full. My heart is so full. Bebe — Oprah, why did you do that? Just why did you put me after this? (Laughter.)

To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young — let me just share something with you. My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do. (Laughter.) But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you’re going, aren’t you? I said, well, Mom, I’m not really sure, I have to check with my schedule. She said, you are going, right? (Laughter.) I said, well, I’m going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out. I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy. (Laughter.)

It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.

In the Book of Psalms it reads: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth.” What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.

She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine. And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.

The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman”, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. (Applause.) Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.

And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message. As a young woman, I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. (Laughter.) That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.

Her message was very simple. She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, “Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.” She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.

Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my journey –- through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers; through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls; through long years on the campaign trail where, at times, my very womanhood was dissected and questioned. For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words –- words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House. (Applause.)

And today, as First Lady, whenever the term “authentic” is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou. But really, I’m just a beginner — I am baby-authentic. (Laughter.) Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master. For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely passionate, unapologetic self. She was comfortable in every last inch of her glorious brown skin.

But for Dr. Angelou, her own transition was never enough. You see, she didn’t just want to be phenomenal herself, she wanted all of us to be phenomenal right alongside her. (Applause.) So that’s what she did throughout her lifetime -– she gathered so many of us under her wing. I wish I was a daughter, but I was right under that wing sharing her wisdom, her genius, and her boundless love.

I first came into her presence in 2008, when she spoke at a campaign rally here in North Carolina. At that point, she was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank to help her breathe. But let me tell you, she rolled up like she owned the place. (Laughter.) She took the stage, as she always did, like she’d been born there. And I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence I could barely concentrate on what she was saying to me.

But while I don’t remember her exact words, I do remember exactly how she made me feel. (Applause.) She made me feel like I owned the place, too. She made me feel like I had been born on that stage right next to her. And I remember thinking to myself, “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me. So, now I’m good. I can do this. I can do this.” (Applause.)

And that’s really true for us all, because in so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us. She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our fear, our anger, our shame. And she assured us that despite it all –- in fact, because of it all -– we were good. And in doing so, she paved the way for me and Oprah and so many others just to be our good, old, black-woman selves. (Applause.)

She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us. (Applause.) And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings. She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is –- your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.

That was Maya Angelou’s reach. She touched me. She touched all of you. She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States. (Applause.)

So when I heard that Dr. Angelou had passed, while I felt a deep sense of loss, I also felt a profound sense of peace. Because there is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us, because there was something truly divine about Maya. I know that now, as always, she is right where she belongs.

May her memory be a blessing to us all. Thank you. God bless. (Applause.)

END
11:53 A.M. EDT

Advertisements

International Politics December 10, 2013: World Leaders Gather for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

WORLD NEWS & POLITICS

World Leaders Gather for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service

UN Photo/John Isaac

President Obama will be among the throngs of foreign leaders and dignitaries attending the memorial service Tuesday for the late Nelson Mandela at the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Memorial Service for Those Who Died and Were Injured in the West Texas Plant Explosion at the University of Baylor, Waco, Texas

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Memorial Service — Waco, TX

Source: WH, 4-25-13 

University of Baylor
Waco, Texas

3:54 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Please.  Thank you, Senator Cornyn, Governor Perry, President Starr, gathered dignitaries, the community of Baylor and Waco — most of all, the family and the friends and neighbors of West, Texas.

I cannot match the power of the voices you just heard on that video.  And no words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night.  What I can do is offer the love and support and prayers of the nation.

The Book of Psalms tells us, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.  “We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

For this state, for our country, these have been trying and difficult days.  We gather here in Texas to mourn the brave men who went through fire and all those who have been taken from us.  We remain mindful of our fellow Americans in flooded states to the north who endure the high waters.  We pray for those in Boston who have been tested, and the wounded whose greatest tests still lie ahead.

But know this:  While the eyes of the world may have been fixed on places far away, our hearts have also been here in your time of tribulation.  And even amidst such sorrow and so much pain, we recognize God’s abundance.  We give thanks for the courage and the compassion and the incredible grace of the people of West.

We’re grateful for Mayor Muska and Mayor Duncan, and all those who have shown such leadership during this tragedy.  And to the families and neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say, you are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too.  (Applause.)  We’re Americans, too, and we stand with you, and we do not forget.  And we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.  Your country will remain ever ready to help you recover and rebuild and reclaim your community.  (Applause.)

Until last week, I think it’s fair to say that few outside this state had ever heard of West.  And I suspect that’s the way most people in West like it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Now, it is true that weary travelers, and now the wider world, know they can rely on the Czech Stop for a brief respite in the middle of a long stretch of highway.  I want to say, by the way, all the former Presidents in Dallas send their thoughts and prayers, and George W. and Laura Bush spoke longingly about the kolaches — (laughter) — and the even better company, as they’ve driven through West.  And what they understand, and what all of you understand, is what makes West special is not the attention coming from far-flung places.  What makes West special, what puts it on the map is what makes it familiar:  The people who live there.  The neighbors you can count on.  Places that haven’t changed.  Things that are solid and true and lasting.

Most of the people in West know everybody in West.  Many of you are probably descended from those first settlers — hardy immigrants who crossed an ocean and kept on going.  So for you, there’s no such thing as a stranger.  When someone is in need, you reach out to them and you support them, and you do what it takes to help them carry on.

That’s what happened last Wednesday, when a fire alarm sounded across a quiet Texas evening.  As we’ve heard, the call went out to volunteers — not professionals — people who just love to serve.  People who want to help their neighbors.  A call went out to farmers and car salesmen; and welders and funeral home directors; the city secretary and the mayor.  It went out to folks who are tough enough and selfless enough to put in a full day’s work and then be ready for more.

And together, you answered the call.  You dropped your schoolwork, left your families, jumped in fire trucks, and rushed to the flames.  And when you got to the scene, you forgot fear and you fought that blaze as hard as you could, knowing the danger, buying time so others could escape.  And then, about 20 minutes after the first alarm, the earth shook, and the sky went dark — and West changed forever.

Today our prayers are with the families of all who we’ve lost — the proud sons and daughters of West whose memories will live on in our hearts.  Parents who loved their kids, and leaders who served their communities.  They were young and old, from different backgrounds and different walks of life.  A few were just going about their business.  An awful lot ran towards the scene of disaster trying to help.  One was described as the kind of guy whose phone was always ringing with folks in need of help — help he always provided.  That’s just who these folks were.

Our thoughts are with those who face a long road — the wounded, the heartbroken, the families who lost their homes and possessions in an instant.  They’re going to need their friends in West, but they’re also going to need their friends in Texas, and their friends all across this country.  They’ll still need you to answer that call.  They will need those things that are lasting and true.  For, as Scripture teaches us, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

To the people of West, just as we’ve seen the love you share in better times, as friends and brothers and sisters, these hard days have shown your ability to stand tall in times of unimaginable adversity.

You saw it in leaders like Mayor Muska, who lost close friends.  And you saw it in the hospital staff who spent the night treating people that they knew — toiling through their tears as they did what had to be done.

We saw it in the folks who helped evacuate an entire nursing home, including one man who drove an elderly resident to safety and then came back to do it again, twice.

We saw it in the people so generous that when the Red Cross set up a shelter for folks who couldn’t go back to their homes, not that many people showed up, because most had already been offered a place to stay with their friends and family and neighbors

Complete strangers drove from hundreds of miles to donate supplies.  Firefighters from surrounding communities manned the stations so surviving volunteers could recover from their wounds.  Right here at Baylor, students stood in line for hours to give blood.  And a nearby school district opened its doors to the students who can’t go back to their classrooms, putting welcome signs on lockers and in the hallways.

So that’s the thing about this tragedy.  This small town’s family is bigger now.  It extends beyond the boundaries of West.  And in the days ahead, this love and support will be more important than ever, because there will be moments of doubt and pain and the temptation to wonder how this community will ever fully recover.  And the families who have lost such remarkable men of the sort that we saw in that video, there are going to be times where they simply don’t understand how this could have happened.

But today I see in the people of West, in your eyes, that what makes West special isn’t going to go away.  And instead of changing who you are, this tragedy has simply revealed who you’ve always been.

It’s the courage of Deborah Sulak, who works as a cashier just around the corner from the fire station.  She said, “It’s going to be tough for the families.  But we’re going to rebound because we’re fighters.”  And that courage will bring West back.  (Applause.)

It’s the love of Carla Ruiz, who used to live in West but now lives in Austin.  And last week, she drove all the way back.  “I had to be here,” she said.  “You have to be here for family.”  That love will keep West going.

It’s the faith of someone like Pastor John Crowder that will sustain the good people of West for as long as it takes.  His church was damaged in the explosion.  So on Sunday, the congregation assembled outside.  “What happened Wednesday was awful,” he told them.  “But God is bigger than all of this.”  (Applause.)  God is bigger than all of this and he is here with you in West.  He is bigger than all of this and he is here with you.

Going forward, it’s not just your town that needs your courage and your love and your faith.  America does, too.  We need towns where if you don’t know what your kids are up to, then chances are your neighbors do too, and they’ll tell on those kids in a second.  (Laughter.)  America needs towns that holds fundraisers to help folks pay the medical bills and then take the time to drop off a home-cooked meal, because they know a family is under stress.  America needs communities where there’s always somebody to call if your car gets stuck or your house gets flooded.  We need people who so love their neighbors as themselves that they’re willing to lay down their lives for them.

America needs towns like West.  (Applause.)  That’s what makes this country great, is towns like West.  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

You have been tested, West.  You have been tried.  You have gone through fire.  But you are and always will be surrounded by an abundance of love.  You saw it in the voices on those videos.  You see it in the firefighters and first responders who are here.  (Applause.)  All across America, people are praying for you and thinking of you.  And when they see the faces of those families, they understand that these are not strangers — these are neighbors.  And that’s why we know that we will get through this.

God bless West.  (Applause.)  May God grant His peace on those that we’ve lost, His comfort to their families.  May He continue to bless this great state of Texas, and may He continue to bless these United States of America.

END                4:11 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines April 22, 2013: President Barack Obama & Michelle Obama to Attend Memorial Service for Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Obamas to Attend Memorial Service

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-22-13

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Waco, Texas, Thursday afternoon to attend a memorial service for the victims of last week’s massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

White House press secretary Jay Carney made the announcement on Monday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 11, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Pentagon Memorial Service in Remembrance of 9/11 — After 9/11, America ‘Even Stronger’

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama: After 9/11, America ‘Even Stronger’

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-11-12

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama says the country has emerged stronger, safer and more resilient.

“As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson: that no single event can ever destroy who we are, no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for,” the president said Tuesday at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon.  “Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.”

Recalling a day “that began like so many others,” Obama said, “It is easy for those of us who lived through that day to close our eyes and to find ourselves back there and back here, back when grief crashed over us like an awful wave, when Americans everywhere held each other tight, seeking the reassurance that the world we knew wasn’t crumbling under our feet.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President at the Pentagon Memorial Service in Remembrance of 9/11

Source: WH, 9-11-12 

Pentagon Memorial
Arlington, Virginia

9:49 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Secretary Panetta, General Dempsey, members of our Armed Forces, and most importantly, to the families –survivors and loved ones — of those we lost, Michelle and I are humbled to join you again on this solemn anniversary.

Today we remember a day that began like so many others.  There were rides to school and commutes to work, early flights and familiar routines, quick hugs and quiet moments.  It was a day like this one — a clear blue sky, but a sky that would soon be filled with clouds of smoke and prayers of a nation shaken to its core.

Even now, all these years later, it is easy for those of us who lived through that day to close our eyes and to find ourselves back there — and back here — back when grief crashed over us like an awful wave, when Americans everywhere held each other tight, seeking the reassurance that the world we knew wasn’t crumbling under our feet.

Eleven times we have marked another September 11th come and gone.  Eleven times, we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in unity and in purpose.

This is never an easy day.  But it is especially difficult for all of you — the families of nearly 3,000 innocents who lost their lives — your mothers and fathers, your husbands and wives, your sons and your daughters. They were taken from us suddenly and far too soon.

To you and your families, the rest of us cannot begin to imagine the pain you’ve endured these many years.  We will never fully understand how difficult it has been for you to carry on, to summon that strength and to rebuild your lives.

But no matter how many years pass, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this — that you will never be alone.  Your loved ones will never be forgotten.  They will endure in the hearts of our nation, because through their sacrifice, they helped us make the America we are today — an America that has emerged even stronger.

Most of the Americans we lost that day had never considered the possibility that a small band of terrorists halfway around the world could do us such harm.  Most had never heard the name al Qaeda.  And yet, it’s because of their sacrifice that we’ve come together and dealt a crippling blow to the organization that brought evil to our shores.  Al Qaeda’s leadership has been devastated and Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again.  Our country is safer and our people are resilient.

It’s true that the majority of those who died on September 11th had never put on our country’s uniform.  And yet, they inspired more than 5 million Americans — members of the 9/11 Generation — to wear that uniform over the last decade.  These men and women have done everything that we have asked.

Today, the war in Iraq is over.  In Afghanistan, we’re training Afghan security forces and forging a partnership with the Afghan people.  And by the end of 2014, the longest war in our history will be over.  Meanwhile, countless civilians have opened their hearts to our troops, our military families and our veterans.

Eleven years ago, memorial services were held for Americans of different races and creeds, backgrounds and beliefs.  And yet, instead of turning us against each other, tragedy has brought us together.  I’ve always said that our fight is with al Qaeda and its affiliates, not with Islam or any other religion.  This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance.  That’s what’s made us strong, now and forever.

And, finally, when those innocent souls were taken from us they left behind unfulfilled work and tasks that remain undone.  And that’s why, on a day when others sought to bring this country down, we choose to build it up with a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Scripture tells us “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  There’s no better way to honor the best in those who died than by discovering the best in ourselves.

This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn.  Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire. We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred.  We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.

And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father’s eyes, and a daughter has her mother’s laugh — living reminders that those who died are with us still.

So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are.  No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for.  Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today.  And that’s why, when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division.  It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.

God bless the memories of those we lost.  And God bless these United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
9:58 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency September 11, 2012: Vice President Joe Biden’s Speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the Vice President at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service

Source: WH, 9-11-12

Flight 93 National Memorial
Shanksville, Pennsylvania

10:30 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Superintendent — Jeff, you’ve done a remarkable job here. And the thing I notice when I speak to you about is you’re invested in this place. It sort of has a — sort of stolen a piece of your heart. And that’s why I’m confident that all that you plan will happen.

Patrick, you’re keeping the flame alive, and keeping the families together is — from my experience, I imagine you all find solace in seeing one another. There’s nothing like being able to talk with someone who you know understands.

And it’s an honor — it’s a genuine honor to be back here today. But like all of the families, we wish we weren’t here. We wish we didn’t have to be here. We wish we didn’t have to commemorate any of this. And it’s a bittersweet moment for the entire nation, for all of the country, but particularly for those family members gathered here today.

Last year, the nation and all of your family members that are here commemorated the 10th anniversary of the heroic acts that gave definition to what has made America such a truly exceptional place — the individual acts of heroism of ordinary people in moments that could not have been contemplated, but yet were initiated.

I also know from my own experience that today is just as momentous a day for all of you, just as momentous a day in your life, for each of your families, as every September 11th has been, regardless of the anniversary. For no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns; the lingering echo of that phone call; that sense of total disbelief that envelops you, where you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest.

My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.

I also hope — I also hope it continues to give you some solace knowing that this nation, all these people gathered here today, who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they’ve not forgotten. They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans, forever. That’s why it’s so important that this memorial be preserved and go on for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren — because it is what makes it so exceptional. And I think they all appreciate, as I do, more than they can tell you, the incredible bravery your family members showed on that day.

I said last year my mom used to have an expression. She’d say, Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and someday it will be summoned. It’s remarkable — remarkable — how it was not only summoned, but acted on.

Today we stand on this hallowed ground, a place made sacred by the heroism and sacrifice of the passengers and the crew of Flight 93. And it’s as if the flowers, as I walked here, as if the flowers were giving testament to how sacred this ground is.

My guess — and obviously it’s only a guess; no two losses are the same. But my guess is you’re living this moment that Yeats only wrote about, when he wrote, pray I will and sing I must, but yet I weep. Pray I will, sing I must, but yet I weep.

My personal prayer for all of you is that in every succeeding year, you’re able to sing more than you weep. And may God truly bless you and bless the souls of those 40 incredible people who rest in this ground. (Applause.)

END
10:37 A.M. EDT

%d bloggers like this: