In a ceremony held this afternoon in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate presented a Congressional Gold Medal to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in recognition of her steadfast commitment to human rights and for promoting freedom, peace, and democracy in Burma. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush also took part in the ceremony. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivered the following remarks prior to the presentation of the medal, as prepared for delivery:
“Let me thank Secretary Clinton, Mrs. Bush, my fellow leaders, and all my colleagues for their testimonials. Congress’s solidarity with Ms. Suu Kyi and her supporters has long been a bipartisan priority. One leader in particular deserves recognition for his extraordinary devotion to their cause. That leader, of course, is my good friend, Mitch McConnell.
“In a few moments, we will present Ms. Suu Kyi with the Congressional Gold Medal. What a moment it will be for the woman whose name means ‘strange collection of bright victories.’ Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Ms. Suu Kyi invited her countrymen to fulfill her father’s call to make ‘democracy the popular creed.’
“Today, because of the sacrifices she and her supporters have made, that invitation still stands. A bright victory indeed, and one we celebrate today.
“As we do, we can look ahead with a renewed sense of purpose. We can present this medal not only as a symbol of our highest honors, but also our highest hopes, for the hard work that lies ahead.
“Because freedom isn’t easy to find. It takes us on a long, winding road. Shortcuts are few and setbacks are many – America has known its fair share. But so long as the search party is led by men and women who refuse to give in to fear or doubt – who refuse to give up their identity, their dignity, and their sense of mission – that gleam in their eye – we will get there. For ‘all we have of freedom,’ Rudyard Kipling, one of Suu’s favorite authors, once wrote, ‘all we use or know, this our fathers bought for us, long and long ago.’
“The gleam in her father’s eye still lights The Lady’s difficult and often lonely path. With this gold medal, the American people hang a lantern for her … may it serve as a high and shining beacon of our commitment to a future of good health and bright victories.”