tv JFK Profile in Courage Award to Speaker Pelosi CSPAN May 27, 2019 10:13pm-10:51pm EDT
wherever books are sold. >> house speaker nancy pelosi received this year's profile in courage award. she was presented the honor by president kennedy's daughter, caroline, and his grandson, jack schlosssberg. that ceremony now from the john f. kennedy presidential library in boston. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ambassador caroline kennedy, honorary president of the john f. kennedy library foundation. [applause] ♪ ms. kennedy: good evening. thank you all for coming to celebrate with us. i know that every year that everyone here has so many things that they could be doing and so we really are honored, and we really take great pride in the fact that you choose to spend
this evening with us. this year, given the fact that "game of thrones" is finishing, we are even more honored than usual. [laughter] i look forward to this night every year because i know that tomorrow, i will like all of you be more inspired to act with more courage and compassion in my own life and with you all to renew our commitment to public service. this year is extra special. not only has the woman that we honor dedicated her life to the ideals my father lived by, but i have probably as big a crush on her as she had on president kennedy when she wore her prom dress to the oval office. this celebration would not be possible without the support of everyone in this room. not just on this night, but throughout the year.
the work at the john f. kennedy library and foundation is a labor of love for our family. and all of you make it possible. i would especially like to think brian kennedy for your outstanding generosity and leadership of this dinner. i would also like to salute the men and women of raytheon who have always supported the kennedy's, the library, and who i saw working daily to protect america as far away as japan and all around the world, so thank you. [applause] ms. kennedy: i want to thank ron sergeant for his leadership of the foundation. we learned so much from your wise, quiet skilled and we are so grateful for your generosity and commitment. i want to think the board of the foundation, as well as my husband, who did not realize he was marrying a library 33 years ago but who has worked so hard and his vision has made it a
model for the national archives system in many important ways. [applause] ms. kennedy: thank you, david, for supporting all of his ideas. when we gather each year, we are reminded of the most important lesson my grandmother taught us, that politics without family, people in politics could not do it without their family. tonight that is more true than ever. we go backlog that i have been alive. -- longer than i have been alive. they had a shared set of values. they believe in each person. and a commitment to using the political process to improve the lives of all americans. president kennedy would never have made it to the white house without support of mayors across the country like mayor d'allesandro. our family would like to salute
the family numbs of public officials that are here tonight, especially the members of the pelosi family starting with paul. we are so happy to have all of you here and supporting the honoree, and it makes it so much more fun. thank you for coming. [applause] ms. kennedy: i also want to recognize the members of the committee. i cannot say they worked very hard this year since there was not much debate about who our winner should be, but we are so grateful for their commitment to the process and the willingness to help the library. as we try to make sense at these divided times, the history in this library can offer us a way forward. not by repeating what we have done before but by learning how america met past challenges and what qualities we need to overcome our own. my father believed that the most important is courage, the strength to do the right thing
no matter the cost. so many of you here, your parents and grandparents stood with my father, with my uncle teddy as they fought for justice and peace in a more welcoming and inclusive america. now, that work is more important than ever and is being done by a new generation. i want to recognize all the members of congress for working with the speaker to carry this work forward and ask you all to please stand and be recognized. i know she is so happy that you are all here. thank you. [applause] ms. kennedy: often, courage is not rewarded by some who prefer the politicians ask for the powerful interests so courage is recognized. that is what is so inspiring about tonight and what makes speaker pelosi the most consequential woman in american political history. i saw her inspire a nation of japanese women when she visited just as she has inspired generations of americans, men and women.
no one advocated as strongly for american workers, human rights, peace and security, or california rights as she did when she came to tokyo. she is consistently acted in service of our highest possible spirit she has suffered defeat but has never given up. thanks to her courage, we have health care for all americans, the most diverse -- [applause] ms. kennedy: the most diverse democratic congress in american history. [applause] ms. kennedy: and the strength to stand firm against the administration's assault on the rule of law. [applause] ms. kennedy: now, i would like to ask jack schlosssberg to come up and present the award.
jack has embraced the work of this library and this award. he works harder than anyone to make sure it stays relevant today. he contributes his unique perspective and insight, and he contributes it loudly. i am so grateful to him for bringing joy to the effort and am proud of him and all he is becoming. so thank you. thank you for helping me out. [applause] ♪ mr. schlosssberg: i think we are all surprised, myself included, to know that you want "game of thrones." i had no idea. i have the best mother in the entire world. everyone says that. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: everybody says that, but for me, it is actually true. she does so much for me and my
sisters, my dad, the library, for our whole family. i learned so much from watching her. i learned so much by watching her in japan, where she brought her intellect here and curiosity to everything she did. she and my father worked really hard to make this a vibrant institution, and we owe them both another round of applause. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: thank you for being here. this event is always really special for me. not only because it is always the last thing between me and summer vacation, but it is also a moment to draw wisdom from president kennedy to carry on his legacy and celebrate what he admired most and that is political courage. this is my sixth year serving on the committee and presenting the award. in that time, we have honored two presidents, two mayors, a congressman, and a governor.
each made difficult decisions with the national interest above their own. they were all courageous. they were all inspiring. and they were all men. [laughter] mr. schlosssberg: but tonight, we honor the most important woman in american political history. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: and a profile in courage if there ever was one. when we think of political courage, we often imagine someone standing up for what is right when no one else will. who does so in the face of intense opposition. and then who suffers the consequences, defeated, run out of town, but with their integrity and conscience intact at least that is one way to do it. but i like speaker pelosi's model better. 17 term congresswoman and twice elected speaker of the house of representatives, hers is a career of courage spanning decades of change and challenge, inspiring hope, delivering victories, surviving defeats, all in service to our country.
we know her story well but for anybody who doesn't, let me briefly summarize. she wins, wins again, makes history, and then keeps winning. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: after working in politics for a decade, she was first elected to the house in 1987, one of just 23 women elected that year. she has not lost a race since. in 2002, she became house minority leader, making her the highest-ranking woman in history at that point. in 2006, she became the first ever female speaker, a title she reclaimed earlier this year. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: her political successes are historic, but they are not what makes for a while of courage. instead, it is what she has done with them, the progress she has achieved, the difference she has made in people's lives, the example of leadership she has provided to all of us.
she is responsible for major legislative achievements, chief among them is the affordable care act. there is a reason why presidents have tried and failed to do this for 70 years. to borrow a phrase and make sure i'm on theme, it is not because it was easy. it is because it was really, really, really hard. speaker pelosi was critical in passing the bill, and i always heard that. but i did some research to find out what made that true. my fellow distinguished committee member, david axelrod, told me in no uncertain terms. he said it would be noah for booker act without nancy pelosi. period. end of story. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: when it looked like in the winter of 2010 passage in the house was hopeless, she quietly, brilliantly navigated a narrow path to victory. painstakingly putting together one vote at a time. she knew her caucus intimately,
which buttons to push, and how to push them. that was another thing i heard about speaker pelosi. that she is a master vote getter, total control of everybody. she says jump, they say how high. i want to know her secret and how she does it so i asked her colleagues in the house. they told me she never ever stops working. they said she knows how to count. the secret does not depend on some hidden technique. her secret is she goes over and over and over the count herself. if there are not 218 votes, she starts over as if she has none. when that happened during the health care print, she told her staff, give me the list and leave me alone. [laughter] not just on health care. in 2008, with the nation on the brink of financial collapse, she committed to president bush she would deliver votes for the tarp bailout.
just before that book, she told her caucus the following. the american people sent us here to do a job for them, and that is what we must do. we will vote today, and i do not want to hear how you cannot support this bill because you may lose your seat in congress. that is not why we were sent here. ultimately, as congressman kennedy, my cousin who represents this area so well, told me, she believes political power is not all to be used because government can make lives better. [applause] mr. schlosssberg: so doing her job and not just keeping it, demanding the same of others, that is what makes her a profile in courage. if that all were not enough, we've watched this year as speaker pelosi summoned the courage to protect the fund mental character and promise of our government when others attack them openly or violate them deliberately. she is steadfast in her commitment to procedure, and her defense of the constitution, and in serving the proper role of the legislative branch. she has met cynicism with optimism.
she has met mudslinging attacks with respect and substance and infighting in her party with a commitment to it with values and platform. her discipline and focus and integrity stand out, raise the bar, and set an example for my generation to follow. we are also proud to celebrate her tonight. i'm honored to present her with the 2019 john f. kennedy profile in courage award. [applause] ♪
[applause] speaker pelosi: i don't see any reason for me to make a speech right now. all the beautiful things i accept the compliments on behalf of colleagues in the house of representatives that made all of this possible with their courage. before acknowledging and thanking the family, for those who have been part of my journey to this moment, i must first pay tribute to the president who inspired this award. when we think back to the passages in the past half-century, we not only remember the singular presence of john f. kennedy, but we can
see as if it were only yesterday how the patriotism, brilliance, self-deprecating wit of what he symbolized, and conveyed, truly did inspire this country and the world. how he renewed our public life and the very definition of america itself. our presence now this evening, and the ceremony this year, inevitably and preeminently celebrates and honors him. and i accept this with a full and humble heart. thank you ambassador kennedy. you not only share your grandfather's name but his spirit and commitment to public service at its best as a noble profession. i love what you mother had to say about you. it makes us all so proud to see you. how proud your mother and father would be to have seen the
dignity with which you represented the united states in japan. to witness that glorious day limit people of tokyo flooded the streets, flooded the streets, to witness you. to watch you travel not by chariot but, what is it, a carriage. to present your credentials. to the emperor of japan. to witness america's best complement to japan. [applause] thank you, ed and rose, for being your own manifestation of excellence in everything you do. thank you for being such an important leader of the foundation and for regaling us this evening with the goals of the evening and also the participation of so many and your important work. that is an applause line. [applause]
speaker pelosi: there you go. and to tom kennedy for your leadership and for welcoming us to this extraordinary place, let me express but also thank you for helping us honor our oath to protect and defend the constitution of the united states. thank you for your extraordinary leadership. and let me express my abiding gratitude to the courage award committee. i think they really did a good job. [laughter] speaker pelosi: i am in my new mode of not being a modest woman in politics. i'm happy about it. [applause]
speaker pelosi: and i want to extend my congratulations to elizar kramer for being selected as the 2019 profile in courage essay contest winner. a beautiful essay. he wrote about one of the first six women to serve in congress and she was the chair of the veteran affairs committee. celebrating with those in my family who are my foundation in my heart. my husband, paul, of 55 years. [applause] speaker pelosi: our children, nancy, karen, christine, jaclyn, paul, and alexandra. our grandchildren, madeline, alexander, paul, and thomas. our other grandchildren, busy with studies and exams but here in spirit. liam, sean, ryan.
also, our sons-in-law who are here. also like family to me, senator chris dodd. friends long before any of us were in congress. i am honored that they are here with us tonight. [applause] speaker pelosi: i am pleased to be joined by so many members of our official family in congress. from massachusetts, rhode island, connecticut, texas, california, maryland. i include former members of congress, i'm including the secretary of state john kerry. and including congressman joe kennedy, who eloquently enacts, in his generation, the kennedy commitments to be a voice for the voiceless. [applause]
the kennedy family has given so much to america's history and america's's future. we remain in all of the courage that is the kennedy constant. their courage to accept the the best and the saddest that god's will has descended upon them, and the courage of faith and hope. caroline, i specially remain inspired by the courage of your grandmother, your mother, jaclyn, especially on this day, and by your courage, madam ambassador. [applause]
speaker pelosi: i prize the distinction of being associated with past recipients, who for over three decades have embodied the most admirable of human virtues of courage. many have been honored from the congress of the united states, with some of us here saw it close-up and personal. a proud deficit hawk who was recognized for his courage to speak out publicly against the war in iraq. before him came the peacemakers of northern ireland. last month, virginia, with the head of our delegation on the 21st anniversary of the good friday accord. [applause] speaker pelosi: i was privileged
to address parliament, the irish parliament, where i invoked the words president kennedy spoke in that very chamber in the summer of 1963. this is what he said. "the supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of god and our common vulnerability on this planet." just think how wise those words are and what appropriate guidance they are at this time. let me repeat them. "the supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of god and our common vulnerability on this planet." just think how wise those words are and what appropriate guidance they are at this time. i want to express my gratitude in personal terms as to what this means to me.
when i was a girl in catholic school, we sang the praises of the kennedy family. long time ago. in grade school, it was they who entered profiles in courage, which had such an impact in me and on my generation. in high school, i had the privilege to meet senator kennedy when he came to baltimore. my father was the mayor and i got to sit at the head table. everyone there was dazzled by his brilliance. in college, i attended the inauguration. on that freezing, thrilling day, i heard an electrifying call to public service. never did i suspected then and later as house democratic leader i would participate in the
ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of his inauguration by hearing his voice reverberate through the rotunda of the capital with that beautiful inaugural address. never did i expect that as speaker of the house, i would begin in this profile encourage award. profile in courage. courage is in the dna of america. courage and the optimism of hope that go with it, which are the shaping experiences, the shaping spirits of the american experience. president kennedy had the courage, optimism, and hope, when he pledged to america we would land on the moon before the decade was out. imagine the courage. when president kennedy challenged america to go to the moon in his speech, he spoke words that today are a constant inspiration. my colleagues will recognize them. they are the first page of all of our innovation initiatives. he said the vows of this nation can only be fulfilled if we in the nation are first. and therefore, we intend to be
first. in short, our leadership in science, hopes for peace and security, our obligation to ourselves and to others, all require that we make this effort. today, those words are the preamble to our innovation agendas and our constant motivation to address the urgency of the climate crisis. which is the challenge of our day. president kennedy knew that american success in that venture would take us well beyond the moon. it was to solve problems here on earth as well. courage is in the dna of america. it was in the dna of our founders. it was manifested when they declared independence premised on equality, the first time any
nation had done that before. when they declare and wage and one a war in the power that existed at the time. when they declared not only a new nation but a new order for what they inscribed in the great seal of the united states forever. optimism, hope, courage. imagine the audacity of their vision and their trust. it was not arrogance but courage that washed this historic experiment in democracy, the united states of america. america has always been a place of courage, from immigrants who crossed the seas to take a chance, many knowing they would never see their homes again.
to the pioneers who crossed the trackless continent. that saga has its scars, but without their courage we would not be an america from sea to shining sea. catholicher, the first mayor of balitmore. to my colleagues in the congress who had the courage me the first woman speaker of the house. [applause] i do not like it when people say i'm the highest ranking woman this or that. a thought by now we would certainly have a female president. i thought that would be in the future.
however, it did take courage from my colleagues to elect me speaker. when i became speaker the first time, a massachusetts democrat, spoke to members at a mass the day before my swearing-in at my alma mater, now trinity university in washington. my roommates are here. he reminded us of our responsibility to the children. now maybe we have a woman speaker that everyone's focus will be on children, urging us never to forget jesus's personal love of of children. he said i see many people with conviction and commitment to their ideals.
what is important is the third, the courage to act upon those ideals. in my public life, i have seen leaders who understood my duty was not to do it was easy, but what was right. especially when my colleagues had the courage to support the affordable care act. the health care reform senator kennedy called the cause of our lives. when he left us, the press came to me and said, i guess it is over for you and the affordable care act. i said not at all. this, as senator kennedy said over and over, is the cause of our lives. it is the challenge to our generation and we will not let this opportunity pass. they said it does not look possible. how do you intend to do it? i said we're going to do it and we will not let any obstacle stand in our way. so we go up to the gate. the gate is locked. we push open the gate.
if we don't push open the gate, we will leapfrog over it, or pole vault over it. if that does not work, we will parachute in. but we are not letting anything stand in the way of passing affordable health care for all americans. [applause] speaker pelosi: so when we did, they came in and said, which one did you do? [laughter] and i said, actually, we only pushed open the gate. we were able to do that because of the courage of my colleagues in the congress of the united states. [applause] if most of the reason i'm receiving this award is because of passing the affordable care act with all of my democratic colleagues in the house and senate. it was not just us. so many of you were there with
us helping to push open the gate. at the grassroots level, the mobilization of children with pre-existing conditions, the nuns, just so many health care providers. so many people standing with us in pushing open the gate. a real demonstration of what president lincoln said, public sentiment is everything. with it, you can accomplish almost anything and without it, practically nothing. the public was with us pushing that gate open. which made a big difference in the economic well-being of american working families. so they were all profiles in courage. they were all profiles in courage. [applause] speaker pelosi: in their name and the name of all who hold fast to an ideal in the midst of a storm, i accept this award.
i do so with a word about what we face in these unprecedented years. in the darkest hours of the american revolution, thomas payne wrote that times have found us. founders in the revolution, they found lincoln at the time of the civil war, they found other times in world war ii. we don't place ourselves in those categories of founders or lincoln but we do recognize the urgency of now in terms of what the challenge is to the constitution of the united states. so the times have found us to strengthen america. it is not about politics. it is about patriotism. [applause]
how fitting it is that this award takes the form of a stunning silver lantern. symbolizing the fire that lights the world. you recognize those words. thank you for this award, which i will proudly display in the speaker's office of the capital of the united states. as a shining symbol of our obligation to meet the challenges of the times that have found us. thank you. god bless the memory of president kennedy and the family he loved. may we heed his words that here on earth, god's work must truly be our own. thank you so much for this honor. god bless you, god bless america. thank you so much. [applause] ♪
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