From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Remarks at National Archives Rotunda Rededication

September 17, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this morning at the Rededication of the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives. The Rotunda holds the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights, known collectively as the "Charters of Freedom." The President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Leaders of Congress spoke at the ceremony. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Thank you, Governor Carlin. Mr. President. Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices. Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Leaders of the Senate. Governors, and distinguished guests.

"As elected and appointed officials, we borne witness to many historic events in the life of this great nation. I can think of no occasion, though, that surpasses the honor we have today of participating in the rededication of this marvelous rotunda and preserving the precious 'Charters of Freedom.'

"In 'America the Beautiful,' we sing, 'Oh beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years.' The Founders certainly saw beyond the years when, in the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their 'lives, (their) fortunes, and (their) sacred honor' to establish a country that was based upon the principle that all men are created equal.

"They saw beyond the years when they wrote a Constitution and a Bill of Rights which have been the basis and the guarantors of our freedom.

"Our Constitution has been a beacon of liberty throughout the world, encouraging people to fight for freedom and drawing newcomers to our shores.

"And so today, on Constitution Day, we celebrate not merely parchment and its preservation, but the spirit of the American people -- the Founders, the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the Freedom Riders, the military veterans -- and all the patriots who continue to see beyond the years. They challenge us to live up to the ideals that are both our heritage and our hope.

"This challenge holds special meaning for us today. As elected and appointed officials, our highest responsibilities are spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution, with a priority to provide for the common defense. We all take that responsibility very seriously.

"At this difficult time, we must remember that in the early days of our republic, our common defense was almost entirely homeland defense. Our Founders knew full well the important balance that was needed between security and freedom.

"Our Founders knew that as we protect and defend the American people, we must also protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. All of us take that oath of office, 'So help us God.' We cannot, and we must not, allow our civil liberties contained in the Constitution to become a casualty in the war on terrorism.

"God truly blessed America when he inspired the Founding Generation. They had wisdom, courage, and vision. And it has fallen to every generation since to preserve the gifts they gave us.

"May God bless us in this good and noble work. And may God continue to bless the United States of America."




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