Pelosi Remarks at the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Charter Commemoration Ceremony

June 26, 2015
Press Release
San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Charter Commemoration Ceremony.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Governor Brown.  On behalf of the Congress of the United States, it is my privilege to bring greetings and congratulations to all of you gathered here on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations.  Many more of my colleagues would be here, but at this moment, they are accompanying President Obama to Charleston, South Carolina, to be with people there as we mourn the loss that was suffered this past week.

“And we do that sitting here in this City Hall – a place that has been the site of a hate crime, too, over 37 years ago.  And that’s why it makes the Supreme Court decision today all the more momentous and spectacular for all of us here.  As Martin Luther King said – as has been said, nobody says it better than he: The arc of history bends slowly.  But it bends towards justice.   What a great morning we have, to erase some of the sorrow…

[Applause]

“I am very honored to welcome the Secretary-General – to join in welcoming the Secretary-General to San Francisco, and to this City Hall.  I’m pleased to do so with Mayor Lee, and to say to the Secretary-General, we had the Conference of Mayors here last week, and Mayor Lee has been in the forefront in all of the issues that you are championing at the UN.  I particularly want to mention his leadership on the climate issue, where the mayors gave their awards, established their priorities of protecting – people-friendly, working for people in a planet-friendly way.  Thank you, Mayor Lee, for your leadership in so many ways.

“And, to be introduced by Jerry Brown is, for me, a great honor.  This is a visionary.  When he was Governor – the first time – he was saying some of the things that people are only now saying today, about climate and the environment.  A visionary then, building on that now – a leader in the world on the subject of climate, and human rights, and environmental justice.

[Applause]

“I want to acknowledge the presence of Kathy Calvin, the President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation.  Thank you, Kathy, for your leadership.

[Applause]

“…Willie Brown: yes, he had the aesthetic dream, the civic pride – but he came to the Congress for the money to get City Hall done, so we all take pride in all of this.

[Applause]

“Thank you for your leadership, Willie.  And I just want to say and acknowledge how proud we are of Ambassador Samantha Power, who is our Ambassador to the United Nations.

[Applause]

“The Secretary General honors us with his presence, but he honors us doubly by having Mrs. Ban be here with him.  Thank you so much, Mrs. Ban.

[Applause]

“To all of you honored ambassadors, representatives, consuls general, all of the rest: thank you for being here today.  We are gathered here in commemoration and celebration of one of the great moments of history – a great moment of history for the world; a great moment for the history of our country; a great moment for our city.  Seventy years ago, as we’ve heard, the delegates of 50 nations gathered in San Francisco Opera House to open a new era for humanity.  Here in San Francisco, the hope earlier of President Wilson, the vision of President Roosevelt, the congratulations of President Truman were all fulfilled.  And on an earlier occasion, when President Roosevelt was here, when he was nominated for Vice President, he said: ‘If you want to do something right, do it in San Francisco.’

[Applause]

“Here in San Francisco, diplomats of far-flung countries found their way to Tennyson’s poetic dream from a distant century – of battle-flags finally furled by a ‘parliament of man, the Federation of the world.’

"On this date in 1945; from the city of the Golden Gate, the word went forward: ‘We the Peoples,’ we, the countries, ‘We the Peoples of the United Nations’ would come together in a new union – to promote freedom and advance human dignity; to confront the plagues of disease, hunger and poverty; to wreath the world in the olive branches of peace.

[Applause]

“How proud they would be of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  I going to depart for a moment of personal privilege, if I may – as we say in the Congress – because earlier today, I heard the Secretary-General reference a meeting he had with President Kennedy.  And I want to tell you of my connection to the U.N.

“When I was a teenager in the 50s, Charlotte, my father was the Mayor of Baltimore.  I was in high school and I was a member of something then called United Nations for Youth.  And then-Senator Kennedy, who was hoping to become President, came to Baltimore to speak to a dinner, the United Nations Association of Maryland, honoring somebody named Jacob Blaustein who was a big supporter of the U.N.  My mother said she was sick – I’ll never know – but she said, “You can take my place at the dinner,” knowing how much I admired Senator Kennedy.  And so I had the privilege of sitting next to him – he was the featured speaker at the dinner – sitting next to him and hearing his words of encouragement to view the world globally and encouraging young people to do that.  It was something that, of course, I will never forget.  And this is the best place I could tell that story of so many years ago.

[Applause]

“It wasn’t long after that he became President.  And at the U.N., before the U.N. General Assembly, he spoke of the need for a global perspective and action.  He said: ‘Plague and pestilence, plunder and pollution, the hazards of nature, and the hunger of children are the foes of every nation. The earth, the sea and the air are the concern of every nation.  And science, technology and education can be the ally of every nation.’

“The truth of President Kennedy’s words speaks across the generations.  They are true today.  They are the thoughts that are conveyed every day by our great Secretary-General.

“Seven decades after its founding, the United Nations and the ideals of Charter that guides it continue to inspire – continue to challenge its member nations to answer our responsibility to our fellow human beings.  Under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with his entrepreneurial spirit and fresh eyes on every subject, a strong UN has made for a better world.  In so many arenas, the United Nations has played a leadership role.  Thank you, Secretary-General for your leadership in the  promotion of peace, the alleviation of poverty, the eradication of disease – and thank you especially, Mr. Secretary-General here in San Francisco, for driving the international mobilization against HIV and AIDS.

[Applause]

“In advancing human rights and empowering women and girls, he has been a leader.  In recognizing the scale and urgency of the climate crisis – where I have seen first-hand his determination – he has given impassioned leadership to the cause.

“It is now my great privilege to present the leader of this great gathering; a man dedicated to advancing peace, promoting sustainability, and upholding the ideals and vision of the founders who came together in this city of San Francisco.  Honored guests and all of you, please join me in welcoming the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.”