Mr. Speaker, thank you for your warm words of welcome. I know I speak for everyone when I say thank you for extending the hand of friendship by making this event possible today in this magnificent venue and for your presence here today.
Father Drinan, as a colleague to some who serve in the House, as a teacher to many, including my children, as a champion for human rights around the world, and an inspiration to us all, your blessing is especially important.
David Bonior, what a great honor it is for me to serve as Whip, following your distinguished and historic service. You have set a high standard for us to follow. I wish you every success in the future, Governor Bonior.
Leader Gephardt, one of the privileges of being Whip is to serve with you as leader. With your vision, your ideas, and your integrity, you show us the way and make us proud to have you as our leader. I couldn’t be more proud of the kind words you said today.
To my colleagues in the House, many of whom are here today, thank you for the confidence you have placed in me. I will always perform my duties to be worthy of your trust. I know we will succeed because of the talent, integrity and expertise in the Democratic Caucus.
To my constituents of the 8th Congressional district of California, some of whom are here, you’ve come a long way. Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the House of Representatives.
Denyce Graves, thank you for that moving performance of "America the Beautiful." Every time I hear the words "thine alabaster city gleams, undimmed by human tears," I am certain that those words refer to San Francisco. It is a city where the beauty is in the mix, where we respect and take pride in our diversity. I am proud to continue in the spirit of Phil and Sala Burton.
I am so pleased that there is a delegation here from California, led by President Pro Tem of the Senate, John Burton, Leo McCarthy, Phil Angelides, and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. I am also grateful to Senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and all the members of the California delegation.
Now I want to thank my family. When I was born, my father was in Congress. I was raised in a tradition that believed that public service was a noble calling and a sacred trust. My mother and father imbued us with a pride of country, a spirit of patriotism. To the D’Alesandro family, to my brother, Tommy and his family, your presence makes this day all the more special to me.
And to my own family, to my magnificent children, Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul and Alexandra, and to my darling husband, Paul, God has truly blessed me with your love. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Much has been said about my being the first woman to rise this high in the Congress. One only need look to my family to see the reasons why. Our love of each other, our love of our country, and an understanding of why we must all take responsibility for the next generation.
I am so glad that my grandchildren Alexander, Madeleine and Liam are here. It is amazing to think that their children will live into the next century.
For all of our children and grandchildren, indeed for all the children in the world, we have an obligation to them to make the world a better place. The challenges ahead are enormous.
That we live in a changing world was demonstrated so tragically on September 11th. As we go forward to meet the challenges we will be walking on sacred ground. We must act in a manner that will always bring honor those who lost died that day and give hope for the fulfillment of America’s dream.
The poet, Shelley, once wrote that the greatest force for moral good is imagination. With the challenges ahead, we will need all of the imagination we can muster.
As I said when I was elected Whip, "We have made history, now we must make progress." With imagination we will make the future brighter for all of America’s children.
Thank you all for coming. I am honored by your presence. God bless you, God bless this House. God bless America.
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