tv Memorial Service for James Brady CSPAN December 29, 2014 9:57pm-11:29pm EST
then the funeral service of former washington, d.c. mayor marion barry followed by supreme court justice samuel alito and former florida governor jeb bush talking about the bill of rights. on the next "washington journal" we look at the state of the affordable care act and what changes are coming to healthcare coverage in 2015. our guests are julie rovner and margot sanger-katz of the "new york times" the upshot. we'll also take your calls on the healthcare law. "washington journal" is live every morning at 7:00 eastern. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. tomorrow night on c-span, a special presentation remembering public figures passed away in 2014. beginning with former senate majority leader howard baker. we'll show you a 2007 interview
we had with historian richard norton spigot which looked at senator baker's career in congress and as chief of staff to ronald reagan. >> i guess in february of 1981 the first serious challenge i had as the new majority leader, the first republican leader, that the first challenge i had was when we had to vote on a debt limit increase. and assume how that would all go. okay? then as i began to count heads howard green came to me and said i don't believe you're going to win this. i got a bunch of the freshman senators together in my office around the conference table and we talked and carried on and it was clear that i hadn't convinced anybody. we were going to lose that thing. the bells rang for a vote and we all left my office and went up to the floor to vote. as i went out i saw jesse helm.
i said jesse, i got a big problem. i don't think i'm going to get these new freshman senators to vote for this debt limit increase. after we voted he said, can i talk to them? i said so, he came back here. they were all gathered and they said, gentlemen, i understand that you are not going to vote for the debt limit increase. i understand that and i understand many of you ran against this and i want you to know that i did not vote for it. ronald reagan is the president. i'm going to do it and so are you. i got all of them, but one. >> hal baker -- howard baker died this year. you can see that interview.
>> on the c-span network, here are some of the featured programs. the washington ideas forum. t boone pickens, warren brown and an inventor. the brooklyn historical society holds a conversation on race. from the explorers club, walt cunningham on the first manned spaceflight. just before noon eastern, an author on the 33 men buried in a mine. richard norton smith on the life of nelson rockefeller. the correspondent for cbs news on her experience on reporting on the obama administration. juanita abernathy on her
experiences in the civil rights movement. brent jim and -- benjamin karp on el cajon in new york city. a cartoonist draws caricatures and a historian discusses the presidents and memorable qualities. for our complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> joe biden and former press secretary's honored james brady. mr. brady was shot and permanently disabled in an assassination attempt. he died in august. this is 90 minutes.
>> welcome. >> we are greeting you as jim brady would greet you, with an irish blessing. we begin the service to celebrate his life. >> may the road rise up to me to, may the wind be ever at your back. may the sunshine warm up on your face, and the rains fall soft on your fields. it until we meet again, may god hold you in the palm of his hand. >> may you always have walls for the wind and a roof for the rain.
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all your heart might desire. may saint patrick guard you wherever you go and guide you in whatever you do. may his loving protection be a blessing to always. >> good morning. i am joe lockhart. i am proud to be in a very small fraternity of former white house press secretary's. to walk up after a prayer, though that was subtly different than what i used to say to myself. please god, let me get to the
next hour. on behalf of the brady family, we want to thank you for coming. your presence means so much to them and to the family. we have some former press secretary's here. thank you for coming. we're here for a simple reason. we loved jim brady. let me amend that a little bit we love jim and sarah brady. to me, they are jim and sarah brady. we are here to honor his legacy, but to honor sarah and the family and all they have done. they were one of the most formidable couples in town. they were also one of the most lovable couples.
we are here to celebrate his life today through many of his colleagues and the operative word is celebrate. and one who stands behind white house podium knows you spend most good time answering hard and tough questions. on occasion, i got some easy ones i want to share two of them with you today. one of them was who is your personal hero? mine was jim brady. one was a personal connection. anyone with any objective research would find that we were the last of the press secretaries who shared the hollywood good looks and fashion sense that very often you see in the movies. he is a hero not because of what happened to him. people faced tragedy in the lives. he is a hero because of what he did with it.
we live in a very partisan and difficult town right now. it is hard to believe that we can find common ground on issues that aren't that hard. jim and sarah got things done. we should not forget that. what was your favorite data white house? another easy one. when we renamed the press briefing room after jim brady. it was my favorite day. it honor jim and i think it brought great joy to jim, sarah, and the family. probably just as important for me, it honor his legacy forever. whoever the president is or the press secretary is, where ever they stand on issues, when they say something it will be recorded as being said in the james s brady white house briefing room. that is an important acknowledgment.
we are going to hear from a lot of people. we will start professionally and washington with a couple of people who jim worked with in the reagan white house. sheila tate will speak next. she was nancy reagan's press secretary. she has a special message that she wants to share. mark weinberg will share some of his experiences. sheila? >> good morning. i'm trying to figure out where to put my water without spilling it.
i think like a lot of us particularly from the reagan days, we are not as active as we used to be. neither is nancy reagan. she dearly wanted to have something to say today. she wrote to sarah. it was a moving remembrance of all the memories she had. she shared this with sarah and then ultimately time magazine. i am honored to share this with you today. she said, ronnie and i could tell there was something special about jim brady from the moment we met him. he had a certain twinkle in his eye.
he had a way of letting you know that he knew what he was doing and everything would be all right. he had a zest for life that was infectious. he love to hear and tell a good story. he laughed easily and could see the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. he made the best chili in town. when was time to be serious, jim was serious and often in a three-piece suit with a notebook or pencil is hand -- in hand. jim was at ronnie's side. he was taking detailed notes. he could brief the press on whatever had transpired. when jim gave advice, ronnie and i listened because we knew he had the best instincts in town. it broke ronnie's heart and my heart the jim and sarah were forced to face such a diversity
after he was so seriously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt. they never complained. jim was a patriot. he loved his country and was proud to serve. ronnie insisted that jim remain his press secretary for eight years. the white house did not seem complete without him. he and sarah became dear friends. i miss jim and pray for sarah. as do we all. if i may indulge myself with a few personal comments as i do the warm up for mark weinberg, it seems strange the back here in my hometown. i now live in charlottesville, virginia. i don't get here as much as i used to. i knew it was time to retire when i went to a big press event at the willard hotel and art buckwalter hit on me. [laughter]
it's true. his ardor cooled after i asked his quested in the negative, which was do you have a car and driver? he had an alter your motive. since jim brady died, the reagan communications team has been in frequent touch as you can imagine. for all of us who worked with jim during the campaign and in the white house, he was always this huge looming presence. i suspect he will always be a powerful influence on us. one of the early reaganites was planning on being here today.
she had a minor medical emergency. she told me a story and gave me permission to tell it. during the 1980 campaign, they were in tampa florida. it was at a hotel. she struck up a conversation with the waiter about the wine list. he offered to show her the wine cellar. off she went. he opened this closet and shoved her in and when and after her and went for the kiss. jim saw what was happening and he rushed down the hall and rip the door opened and through the waiter side of and saved the damsel in distress. but this is the wonderful part. every time he saw her after that, whenever he saw her, he said to her, have you been in any good wine cellars lately? [laughter]
it was one demonstration of what we knew. he always had our backs and always helped us. if there was a fight we needed to win, he was there for you. his death brought back the personal anger that i felt from the assassination attempt. when sarah asked me to speak, i wondered what to say about that anger and it is something many of us carried with us. that got me thinking about this fellow with the gun. that pathetic guy that got the perfect way to impress jodie foster was to try to shoot the president.
then i realized, i couldn't remember his first name. i can't explain the sense of release. he didn't matter to me. he is inconsequential. ronald reagan found it in his heart to forgive him. nancy not so much. i am sort of with nancy on that. i think a lot of reagan people feel that way as well. we prefer to give thanks to god for the survival of our president and we are especially thankful for the neurosurgical excellence at gw hospital. i don't know if everyone has heard the story about when the mistaken announcement that jim had not survived, his classic response, no one told me or the patient. it's hard to think of a world that still turns without jim brady. in the belief that he is up there listening and probably critiquing our remarks, for me
mr. vice president, sarah, members of the brady family, it is an honor to be at this podium today to speak about my boss mentor, and friend. thank you sarah for the privilege of representing the brady bunch. when people speak of those who of passed on it, history is re-created. sharp edges are softened. reality is replaced by fuzzy images. kind of like a reagan campaign commercial. no truth need be stretched no scrubbing need be done.
no revisionism is required to present an absolutely honest picture of extraordinary man whose goodness, intelligence since of humor, courage, love of life touched us all. let me tell you about my journey with him. i was 22 years old with my own typewriter, a banquet table for a desk in a rented metal folding chair writing press releases when i first crossed paths with jim. he was hired as the press secretary. after the routine introduction the first word he said to me in the conley campaign was, houdini. confused? so was i.
i just written what i thought was a routine press release about some campaign event in lord knows where and put it on jim's desk. i expected he would come out and say it was ok and then i would issue it. but no. he came to my table/desk and headed me the release and said houdini. i said i don't understand. he smiled and said it again. your draft says he will appear the campaign event. no, magicians appear. he is not houdini. he is a candidate for the presidency of the united states. they campaign or speak. my first of many lessons from jim brady. he was a great boss. does anybody rim that jeep he used to run around in in arlington? he came to get me one saturday afternoon in crystal city. i did not want to get in. he was my boss and i did.
fast-forward, jim is on the reagan campaign and got me hired. reagan wins and jim is the chief spokesman. i am there working for jim again, writing press releases about cabinet appointments. no one appeared in those. [laughter] the most vivid image was when we would get information about who is being considered for press secretary. those were not easy days for him. as the days tipped down to a precious few with the decision
from you know who, jim reluctantly and briefly considered an invitation from al haig to be the state department spokesman. jim, sarah, and i were having dinner one night. he asked me if i wanted to work for him at state. state with haig it jim said. i'm not sure i am a foreign policy guy. sarah could see where my head was and bless your heart. you said to jim, leave him alone. mark wants to go to the white house. a day or two later, they offered jim the job and the rest is history. to tell the truth, none of us thought he would be a great press secretary. jim knew himself well enough and from an organizational standpoint, he might come up a
little bit short. one look at that desk would prove it. it was always covered in multiple layers of paper. you could never see would. if he had a system, it was among the most great kept secrets. no one knew where anything was except jim. much of the time, it was all in his head. that is why he hired larry speaks to run the office. jim knew that his role was to be an advisor to the president and his spokesman.
no one was better at either. speaking of larry, we lost him earlier this year. i would not be surprised if he and jim are up there right now drinking heineken and listing to elvis. who can forget his briefings. they are usually scheduled for noon. we would gather in his office and 11:30 a.m. every day. we would have our answers all prepared. as always, wind up waiting for jim. we were afraid to leave. we never knew when he was going to come. inevitably, he was with the president.
he raced into the office and we all turned into whirling dervish is. we were talking over each other in he paid us no attention at all. he sat at his desk and hunched over a notebook. he would stand up and swoop up some of those papers and head for the briefing room. we scrambled to follow him almost falling over each other. he nailed every briefing. it was almost as if he could read reporters mines in terms of what they would ask and he always had the perfect answer. it was uncanny. jim was more than a boss to me. he had a paternal side to him that made my parents very happy and grateful. he always seemed worried about my social life, which was not robust back then. jim taught me many things. no lesson was more important than to love life. he did that by example. he loved his family. he loved his friends and reporters and politics and cooking and eating. he loved the class reunion and nathan's on saturday. they all lit up when jim brady
was there. he knew who he was and he was happy. he was not afraid to laugh at himself. there was nothing vain about jim brady. when people asked about his figure, his answer was the same. when i get an urge to exercise i lay down until it passes. jim was real. when he was asked whether he was angry about the events of march 30, he did not make up a politically correct fake stuff about moving on. he told the truth. he said yes. the important thing is that jim was not bitter. there is a profound difference tween anger and bitterness. bitterness can be an obsessive and ultimately self-destructive
emotion while anger can lead to action. that is what happened with sarah and jim. their anger motivated them to do something really important and great with their lives for which this country is better. let me remind you the jim brady was able to fully perform the duties of white house press secretary for 70 days. he served in the role for eight years of the reagan administration because ronald and nancy reagan were unwavering in their loyalty to him. we were blessed with jim's leadership for only 70 days. that's not a long time. short as it was, jim brady's tenure was as impactful and important and inspiring as any in history. ronald reagan said it best in 1982.
>> i'm mike mccurry. i am on the successors to jim brady. we like to refer to ourselves as the human piñatas for the white house press corps. jim brady was a great role model. he knew when to growl like a bear at the press when he had to. he understood the value of the human and kinder touch. the relationship between the white house and the press corps which covers it must always be an adverserial one. jim brady proved that this adversarial relationship could be an amicable one. i'm going to collect up for
distinguished people who can speak to that. first the me read a letter we have received for this occasion. "i wish i could be there to celebrate jim's courageous life of service. jim was blessed with a unique combination of wit intelligence, tenacity that made him an effective and often entertaining white house press secretary. perhaps there is no greater testament to his abilities or to the mutual respect he shared with journalists than his successful effort to convince the white house press corps to abandon tradition and begin raising their hands one of they wanted to ask a question. when an assassin's bullet changed everything at the pinnacle of his career, he could've lived up the rest of his life in private regret. instead, he chose to publicly embrace what he could still accomplish with his mind and heart. he transformed his personal tragedy into an opportunity to save lives. he taught us the true meaning of perseverance and showed that although much can be taken from us, we can always keep giving. he did it with a level of grace
and honor that most of us with far fewer obstacles in our way never achieved. it is really great honors of my life that i had the opportunity sign the brady bill into law in 1993. jim and sarah fought so hard for more than six years to help pass it. the background checks mandated by the law who stopped or than 2 million gun purchases by felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and stockers. -- stalkers. our families are safer because of jim's efforts. hillary, chelsea, and i pay to be to a remarkable man and inspiring leader and a true friend. may god bless you all, president bill clinton." [applause]
now let me introduce for a standing journalists who knew and jousted with jim brady and lived to tell about it. they are andrea mitchell, bill plante, al hunt, judy woodruff. >> thank you. mr. vice president, sarah, scott, reverend clergy and friends and colleagues, jim brady was a national treasure.
at the peak of his life in the pinnacle of his career, he was shut down by an assassin's bullet. nothing could shatter his spirit and his trademark sense of humor. the man we knew as the bear was a reverent to a fault. we remember killer trees. just one example of how he could get himself in trouble on the campaign trail. he was truly one of life's originals. he was funny, honest, and true. i know i won't any arguments from the press secretaries who successors when i described him as the most honest and straight talking and fearless and best like press secretary ever.
he was the most effective. it was an accolade that he had earned despite being struck down by only a few months on the job full-time. it was a trustee had earned in every job you held before that. that was on the beginning. jim was a fighter. never more so than he was fighting for the cause of his answer is life. as sarah wrote in her book, the bear named brady was the brightest, funniest man should ever met.
clearly, he was also the most determined. their fight for handgun control was initially inspired not by his injury, by an incident that occurred four years later. they were visiting his hometown in illinois. scott picked up what he thought was a toy gun. so did sarah. they were visiting friends. the gun that he had started playing with was not a toy. it was a saturday night special. it was similar to the one that had been used against jim. sarah's fear and her shock at how close are precious child had come to a terrible injury turned into anger and into resolve. out of that, came the campaign. a movement and a cause. by then, i was covering congress. i remember so well seeing them together. what a love story. lobbying members of congress. jim did not sugarcoat his argument when he was testifying against the gun lobby's objections.
the nra said the five-day waiting period would inconvenience law-abiding citizens. jim told congress i need help getting out of bed and help taking a shower and help getting dressed. i need help going to the bathroom. i guess i am paying for their inconvenience. i'm over the day when ronald reagan endorsed the brady law. jim said they are not going to accuse him of being liberal. i will never forget witnessing the oval office ceremony in 1993 when president clinton signed
the bill into law. jim said, how sweet it is. how long it took. jim and sarah did not rest with that achievement. after virginia tech, late fought to close loopholes or did they called for new restrictions after new town. on his last visit to the white house, jim was wearing a bracelet honoring gabby giffords. jim brady will be remembered for the briefing room that bears his name. he was a true hero. as nancy reagan wrote, he was a patriot. he served his nation with honor. he lives on in our hearts and in the lives of countless people he saved from the devastation of gun violence. thank you, jim brady. [applause]
>> good morning. celebrate? you bet. that is exactly what i did when i heard that jim brady was coming to the reagan campaign. i had known him in chicago. we had a good time there too. it was a grill treat to meet -- real treat to meet him. john conley's campaign had just collapsed. it spent $11 million and gotten one delegate. jim brady was known as the bear after winnie the pooh, came to reagan's campaign. he brought with him his wonderfully extroverted personality. there was nobody in politics quite like him.
he brought with him an enormous store of information and a gift of irish gab and a fearlessly sharp wit. these are dangerous traits for a press secretary, even more for his principal. they were catnip to us. brady referred to his bosses and the candidate. that was when humor was safer. there was no social media to speed along to everybody. brady had been around for twitter, god only knows what might've happened. he was always ready with a quip and i quote.
it seemed to be right of the top of his head, but it always fit perfectly. somehow, he managed to serve his candidate well, but also satisfied those of us on the other side. not that his irrepressibly didn't occasionally land him in hot water. we all caps track of governor reagan's sometimes fanciful rhetoric. one fine autumn day, the campaign plane was descending somewhere in the midsouth. the speechwriter looked out the window and saw smoke rising from the forest below. killer trees, he said quietly. brady loved it. he bounced back to let all of us
know look, killer trees. mrs. reagan was not amused. nor was bill casey who did not have much of a sense of humor. jim was thrown off the plane for about three days. he returned unrepentant with the same assessed for both his job and life in general. jim loved good food and good wine. we ate and drank our way through the primary, the convention, and the fall campaign. i have the expense account records to show for it. i went back and looked at them. it was wonderful. he loved to eat any love to cook.
after ronald reagan won the election, jim really wanted to be press secretary. as you have heard, the transition team took their time. he was an outsider. he was perceived as more moderate, brady joked that one point so much time had elapsed and lunches with him during the transition were no longer tax-deductible. then the was the narrative that suggest that nancy reagan thought that he was not good looking enough to be your husband's spokesman. at one point, he came out to begin his daily briefing saying i come before you today as not just another pretty face but out of sheer talent. [laughter]
when he did get the job, his knowledge of the way washington works, the president love brady style. he gained access, the kind of access that press secretaries need. those with a good times. he was of the top of his game and he loved every minute. here is the really important thing. after his injury, after the moments of up-and-down, months of up-and-down before he left
the hospital, jim brady was still someone who could laugh and had the same sharp wit and who despite his own pain still cared about his friends. the real measure of a person is in the way he or she deals with that adversity. jim brady was a champion. he showed the rest of us the kind of courage that we didn't know existed. in 1966 interview i asked him if he was still bitter. he paused. well, he said, it's not classy to be bitter. i try to be classy, as you know. isn't much of an effort i asked? he answered, yes. he made that effort valiantly for 33 years. stu spencer put it this way the other day. jim brady was a keeper.
that is what i hope will sustain and comfort sarah and scott and missy. thank you. [applause] >> mr. vice president, sarah and friends of jim brady, i first met jim several years before the white house. he was the press secretary for bill roth. senator roth was a moderate conservative republican and an honorable man. he was the quiet senator from delaware. [laughter]
he singly wore a hairpiece which is one area were jim brady could provide no assistance. he was the cosponsor in 1978 of a tax cut that magically was going to raise gobs of new revenue. it was a nutty notion. voodoo economics. the other cosponsor was jack kemp. this was always the kemp-roth bill it should've been kemproth-brady. our next encounter was when he was campaign manager for john conley.
john kelly was a bigger than life texan, overpowering. he exercised top-down power. i wrote a profile which he disliked. he summoned his press secretary and said, get him fired. go to the ceo and get him fired. jim told him, governor, you know those press bastards all stick together and i got nowhere. conley replied, those sons of bithces. jim had called no one. in february, 1980 wanted, judy nine went to dinner with sarah and jim. i was the walk on. judy was the nbc white house correspondent. i covered politics for the journal and i asked a bunch of skeptical questions. finally jim looked at me and said, conley was right, i should've gotten your ass fired. we laughed and drank another lass of wine. he was always fun.
it was a great secretary appreciating the dual demands and the cities of loyalty and integrity. it is so fitting, as joe said earlier, that the press brake is named after jim. his first 40 years were impressive, his next 33, even more so. jim was unlucky that march day at the hilton, in the wrong place at the wrong time. but even more important is how lucky he was years earlier when he fell in love with and married sarah cap. you all were partners throughout. what you accomplished against great odds was remarkable. judy and i have a son with a
brain injury and we know how challenging and sometimes painfully difficult it can be. in addition to his great character and heart, he always had you, sarah. could not have done it without you. there is much to do in your quest or sensible gun policies in america and it will never be easy but there will be more progress and it will all be built on jim and sarah have caught. the jim brady story transcends our age. he was a profile in courage and determination against the odds. we will tell it to our grandchildren who will tell it to theirs. we were also lucky to have known the bear. [applause]
>> mr. vice president, friends of jim brady, it is wonderful to see all of you here. i just have to say first to sarah and your ordinary family i am so deeply honored, as al is, to have been asked to say a few words about jim. it is great to see so many friends of his here, to celebrate his life. i love hearing the stories, i love laughing about jane, the -- jim, the man we knew. my memory of jim dates back to shortly before the election of 1980 when i was the nbc correspondent who had spent the previous four years covering president jimmy carter. so i have not had the opportunity to meet many people on the reagan team. not a good position for the white house correspondent.
so nbc quickly gloomy out to los angeles right after the election, i spent weeks out there, worked like mad to get to know everyone. how lucky i was to find jim brady, who are the reporters already liked and trusted, who even seemed a little sympathetic about my predicament as a newcomer. jim and i immediately hit it off. i thought i must he someone special but it turns out that is how he was with every reporter. he teased me all the time about the years that i have spent covering the georgia peanut farmer. he teased me about the lingering southern accent i could not completely get rid of. and about being with the newly married to al hunt. he wondered out loud if i really knew who this guy was a covered politics.
i soon met sarah, and it was freer, they adored each other. they had a terrific sense of humor, teased each other nonstop. when we went out to dinner, they came across as real people, as al mentioned. yes, we laughed a lot. we had many glasses of wine. they had many of the same thoughts and worries that we did, even though we had worked on opposite sides of the political divide. i brought a picture which you probably cannot see, it is one that i cherish. it hangs in al's study in our home. it is in jim's office a couple of weeks after he came to the white house, there was not much on the walls yet. he was giving me a big scoop, i would like to say, but that is not the truth. i think he was explaining supply-side economics to a georgia peach. it took him a while.
but i cherished this, and it reminds me of the personal connection that i felt to him and to sarah. a few weeks later, that connection was permanently sealed, but not in the way that i ever imagined. because i didn't join the press pool on the trip to the hilton hotel that day when jim and president reagan and agent tim mccarthy and officer tom delahanty were shocked. i was standing a few feet away next to the press than -- van and two months pregnant with our first son jeffrey. i will never forget how jim fought his way back from the brink with sarah's help. in an instant, everything changed, but the twinkle in his eye, the teasing in his voice, that sharp mind that we know so well, and you have heard about this morning never left him.
whenever we saw jim over the years, and it is on in. -- often because he and sarah were active. he wanted to know about that crazy al that i had married. lou cannon told me this week that he is confident that even if jim had never been injured, he said we would still be celebrating his life right now. he was that kind of guy, he was always going to make a difference, would always have an effect on people. two other things. i feel a closer connection to jim and sarah because of our son jeff, who, 17 years after jim was shot, experienced a different kind of brain injury. sarah and jim were among the first people to reach out to us and every time we would see them the first thing they would ask about was jeffrey. and second to sarah, when i think about jim's life and the funny and fun loving couple you were, i see the seeds of the
extraordinary bond that gave you the strength to be there with him for all those years. there are so many unheralded people who give much of themselves to take care of a lot of one. --loved one. you embody the very best of who they are and what they do. jim could not have lived like he did without you. it is a privilege to know you. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪
reports in detail. there has been allusions to a glass of water to. i hope the document proves us to be conservative estimates. everyone has made reference here today about jim and sarah's work when it comes to gun safety and gun violence. our next two speakers are people who have lived in the trenches on this issue over the last two decades and have made a difference in a terribly difficult and divisive issue. dan gross is the president of the brady campaign to prevent gun violence. before that, he started the center to prevent youth violence and has devoted much of his life to the cause. gail hoffman, who many of you know, was central to putting this event together, has been at this since the late 1980's with handgun control, was the point person for all of us in the clinton administration to getting the brady bill done at the justice department. i think both of them can reflect on the incredible work and incredible accomplishments of jim and sarah brady when it comes to making this country safer. >> mr. vice president, sarah
scott, missy, friends and family of jim brady across the country, it is a privilege to be here and it is my privilege to lead the organization that bears jim and sarah brady cost name, the campaign center to prevent gun violence. it has been my greater honor and privilege to know jim brady, to call him my friend, and in a way, he was even my brother. every time i saw jim was precious to me. either through words of wisdom or a joke, or that twinkle that i swear never left his eyes, even when he could no longer see, jim had a way of turning even a brief encounter into a lifetime memory. but as i was preparing these remarks, the one memory that stood out the most was the very last time i saw jim. it was extra special because i brought my two children to meet him for the first time, this man that had been so much to me and
had such a profound influence on our life, my life, on our nation. as we were introducing our kids to jim, sarah, who had already met them, told jim that my daughter played tennis. then there it was, jim last that mischievous grin as he playfully launched into a story about when sarah took up tennis and how she was more concerned about her fancy outfit than she was with the sport itself. he also mentioned how great she looked in that out it. -- outfit. but the most special moment came as we were saying goodbye as we were walking out after a long visit. jim had to be tired. he called out to my daughter and in his slurred speech, he said, good luck with your tennis. those were the last words i ever heard jim brady say and i don't think they could've been more fitting. that was the jim who really cared about you.
that was the jim who really cared about all of us, even if they were suffering more than he wanted you to know, that was the jim cared about people. and i believe that is why jim and sarah brady are the embodiment of the gun violence prevention movement, the greatest champions we have ever seen or the safer nation that we all want. because jim brady really cared about all of us. jim brady really loved this nation. when it comes down to it, i believe there are three things that jim brady's remarkable life tells us about gun violence in america. first is the toll of gun violence. 30,000 americans killed every year, about one million lives lost jim was shot. the statistics are staggering, but what the story really tells us is the impact of just one of
those bullets can have, just one. that one bullet took jim's physical strength, cause profound lifelong health issues, put his loving wife sarah in the role of a lifelong caregiver rob a brilliant and remarkably popular young press secretary of his career. my brother, too, was shot in the head and survived. like jim, my brother has worked remarkably. as i said, in a way, jim was my brother. every year, hundreds of thousands of more americans are introduced into our same tragic brotherhood and sisterhood, a family no one ever wants to join, all in an instant, in the same way, one bullet. two, jim's story taught us about the importance of stronger sensible gun laws. jim and share a -- sarah showed our nation why we need a background check before we buy a gun, which jim's shooter was never subject to.
jim and sarah did not stop until they push through one of the most important public safety laws in this nations history the brady handgun prevention violence act which i stopped over 2 million gun sales to dangerous people and has prevented countless more from even trying. as we heard, when the corporate gun lobby argued that background checks were too inconvenient for gun buyers, jim, in his inimitable way, responded, i guess i am paying for their inconvenience. -- convenience. sarah is fighting with us still. third and most importantly, jim brady teaches us about the strength of the human spirit. how victims can not only survive but thrive. how each of us can make a difference and how anyone of us
truly can change this country and the world. i believe that jim and sarah brady have saved more lives than almost any citizens in our nations's history, and that is not hyperbole. there are literally millions of americans who will never notice -- know the suffering of gun violence because of jim brady, and he did it without the trappings of power or wealth, a man that suffered a great injustice, who was robbed of so much, but refuse to be paralyzed by bitterness or hopelessness. jim brady was a great man and a good man who changed the world in profound and extraordinary ways. there will never be another jim brady. but that must not stop us from carrying on the fight that was so important to him. jim, we will follow in your example. thank you, jim brady. can't bless you.
-- god bless you and as he would want me to finish, thumbs up. [applause] >> first i want to thank joe lockhart for all the work he has done to make this event, celebrating jim's life, so very special. and thank you all for joining in this wonderful sendoff for the bear. it was a tremendous privilege for me to work with and become so close to jim. for many years, the bradys have been like family to me. it is also a tremendous privilege for me to introduce our next speaker who jim adored. vice president biden and jim brady enjoyed a very long history together. before jim was white house press
secretary, he served as an aide to senator bill roth of delaware, back when joe biden was senator biden. neither could know then how much they would subsequently do together to alter the course of history and ultimately saved so many lives by getting the brady bill passed. during the effort to pass the brady bill, we relied heavily on senator biden, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee to help shepherd the bill through the senate. he was always there for us, as was his tremendously dedicated staff. we were in constant communication and we knew that joe biden always had our back. later, when jim and sarah moved to rehobeth beach, delaware, they became constituents of senator biden and the strong bond between the bradys and the bidens endured. the bear and the vice president
have a lot in common. speaking truths and telling it like it is. when jim first testified before the senate judiciary committee in 1989, he not only talked about what it was like to be in his wheels, but he said there were too many cowardly lion's walking the halls of congress. you bet there were. our next speaker was never one of them. in fact, he was and is a courageous public servant dedicated to the cause of making us all safer and doing what is right. vice president biden has been there for jim and sarah from the very beginning and immediately after we lost our bear, vice president biden was there within the hour for sarah with an outpouring of love, and as always, offering to do anything and everything he could. there was never a question as to who could best honor jim's
memory and legacy at an event like this. jim and sarah's longtime friend joe biden was the obvious person who could best speed to jim's -- speak to jim's public and private life. it is my great honor to introduce to you the bear's good friend and our vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] >> my name is joe biden. i don't like twitter either. [laughter] oh, for the good old days. my staff asked me whether i wanted a teleprompter, al. as the president said at one of
the gridiron dinners, he said, i am learning to speak without a teleprompter, joe is learning to speak with one. i don't think jim would have ever put me on a teleprompter. folks, i only take one issue with what has gone on so far this morning. when the clergy stood here and recited those irish blessings, as the grandson of ambrose finnegan, i don't think any of those irish blessings were ones that jim would have been attached to. the one that i think he probably liked the most was the one that my grandfather ambrose finnegan used to use. he would say, may those who love us love us, and those who don't, may god turn their ankles so we see them coming by their limp. [laughter]
that, to me, is a brady-ology. -- brady irish blessing. you guys get it? i don't know. all of these faux irish people out here, i don't know. [laughter] my mother had an expression, and it was real. she would say, joe, remember you will be defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty. i cannot think of a better phrase to describe jim brady. jim was a national figure but we in delaware. before he went -- thought before he went to president reagan or governor connally, that he was delaware's property. i am told that jane roth may be here. judge, how are you? one of the best judges in the third circuit and a partner of bill roth the whole time.
jane, i remember -- does remember when jim was bills mr. -- press secretary. the thing that would startle you is that we like each other. for 30 years, without exception, there was never one time where a harsh word or public criticism of the other the entire time. that perplexed and when he first -- jim when he first came. jim and sarah got me in trouble with my then young children. jim had always had bill doing something really exotic. i will never forget the time that they were doing the kemp-roth bill. jim got bill on top of that elephant. remember he was riding that elephant?
my daughter looks at me and says, daddy, why can't you be like senator roth? gail, thank you for that introduction. scott and missy, i know -- i'm sure you appreciate all the love that your father engendered but i know it is hard to sit here and -- i know it is hard for you, sarah. we talked backstage. no matter whether it has been a week, a month, 20 years, 30 years -- when moments of the memorial come along, they are appreciated, but they create that ache. there is, in ireland, a tombstone that reads, death leaves a heartache that no one
can heal, but love leaves a memory that no one can steal. this is both a reminder of the heartache and love, and i admire you, and the heart of all the bidens goes out to you. the poet rg ingersoll said when the will defies fear, when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honor scores to compromise death, this is heroism. jim brady was heroic. it was all the things that everybody said, but to me, jim brady was simply heroic. life dealt him a really cruel blow, but the interesting thing about jim was, in the 30 years
since that time, is that jim never compromised. jim was never ever defeated. he said back in 1986, you have got to persevere, keep a sense of humor. he said they could not she got -- he said they could not shoot that away. and they never did. but he did not just persevere, he triumphed. and he did it with such dignity and grace and fierce determination. he turned tragedy in action. we always talk about that, you are either made better or worse but you never stay the same after some god thing happens to you. -- god awful thing happens to you. but what is interesting about
jim is he turned it all into action. he not only reached out to survivors of gun violence, but he reached out to the disabled with a message of encouragement and hope on the road to recovery. and the reason why it mattered so much to them, and you could see it in their eyes, is because they knew that he knew, that he understood, and he literally helped heal, and he gave hope. when you are in jim's position it takes a hell of a lot to focus on someone else's pain. a hell of a lot to spend the energy and time to communicate to other people that have gone through something like you have gone through, to stand up, to fight. and, sarah, i think it was al
who said it. yours was a great love affair. we have all been around long enough to know when we see couples who are still couples, but every once in a while, you see a couple and you can tell it is still a love affair. it is not just they have grown used to each other, not just that they love each other, it is a love affair. that is a remarkable thing. what an incredible gift you gave to one another. what a model for your kids to know that that is how it was. you know, i don't ever remember, sarah, seeing jim without you after the assassination attempt.
but, you know, the interesting thing to me is through a whole lot of pains taking effort and all of the frustration that you felt, the thing that is missing right now in washington, you are able to generate consensus and bring people together. i watched, when we wrote the biden crime bill that contained the brady bill, the assault weapons ban, the other things, and i would watch how you would both import to my colleagues in the hallway. they were scared to death to walk by you. if they saw you, it was like oh, god, what am i going to do? [laughter] it was a pleasure watching jim work them, and i mean work them,
and you standing there just so nice and forceful. none of the brady bill, despite all the help that you got from public office, all of it would not have mattered -- it was the one-on-one, bipartisan consensus that you pulled off. it was pretty incredible. i think the most remarkable thing about jim was that -- i cannot say the day that he died because i had not seen him for two months before that. the same remarkable man the day that he died that he was when i met him over almost 37, 38 years ago. as the old saying goes, there
are two things you have to know about jim brady. one was that he was tougher than you, and two, that he was smarter than you. those were helpful going in. he had an incredible mind, but the thing that i loved about him most is he seemed more driven by his heart, as much by his heart as his mind. as i said, he never let up. he understood that it was really necessary to get important rings done, to question the judgment of other people. but the thing that he never did which is done today, is he never questioned motive. the question judgment. when you question someone's motive, it is often hard to make that switch and then come with you. he never did that. he always left room for people to come around.
as i said, he never let up. jim truly lived every moment that he was alive, even at the end. i remember talking to him once. a guy that he knew well too was ted kaufman, my administrative assistant, became u.s. senator. i was telling him once, ted, i saw a picture of jim with the pope. ted told me that there was a quote from pope john paul about going quietly into the night adjusting to age, excepting -- accepting god's will, etc. and i told jim, ted sent me this quote. i told him what i sent back to ted. i sent back when dylan thomas wrote.
do not go gently into that good night. old age said -- should burn and rage of the closing day. rage, rage against the dying light. that is the thing i loved about the son of a gun. he raged against the dying light. never out of anger, but such incredible passion, born out of love. he cared too much to leave the fight to others, not even when he knew there was so much to do. the bullet of that would be assassin robbed him of so many of his faculties, as so many other victims of gun violence no, but it did not rob him of his voice. more than 11,000 men and women in this country still need his voice because, every year, they fall victim of homicide, and they cannot speak for themselves. but to end his life with every
breath that he took, he spoke for them and hundreds of thousands of others. because he knows we had no choice -- he knew we had no choice but to speak for those who were lost. the voice that spoke or a president, senator, the disabled, victims of gun violence everywhere, now speaks no more, but i think jim finally has some peace. i think he is waiting for you guys. there is a poem i love called the lake of the industry.
i will arise and go down to industry and i shall have some peace there. four piece comes dripping slow dripping from the veils of the morning to where the crickets sing. there, and midnight is all the glimmer in new is a purple glow and the evening is full of lilly wings. i will arise and go now for always, night and day, i hear lake water lapping down by the shore. while i stand on the roadway pavement gray, i hear it, that the deep heart score. i think he is waiting for you, i think he is waiting for those in this fight or so long with him but most of all, his family. if my dad were here, scott and missy, he would probably look at you guys and say, you have good blood. you have good blood.
it is my hope that we may all eventually, not in the too distant future, live up to the legacy and standard of jim, and finally get done what he worked so very hard to do. we have convinced the american people the last time out with a proposal i put forward through the president. the fight used to be, can you fit -- convince the american people? 75% of the american people agree with us. what we need is another jim brady who has the skill and the ability to convince those who are afraid to walk the halls of congress to step up and do what they know is right. one will come along. it will happen. i pray that it is sooner rather