Pelosi Remarks at Thomas Edison Statue Unveiling Ceremony

September 21, 2016
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at the Thomas Edison statue unveiling ceremony.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Good afternoon, everyone.  This is a very special occasion indeed.  I’m honored to join our Speaker, Paul Ryan, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Leader of the Senate, and the distinguished Senators and Congress Members who are here to celebrate this new addition to our Capitol.

“Today, 85 years after his death, we welcome to the Capitol the statue of one of the greatest inventors who has ever lived: Thomas Alva Edison, the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park.’  Now, [Congresswoman] Marcy [Kaptur] very clearly listed many – gave inventory to many of Thomas Edison’s inventions.  Sen. Portman talked about the work ethic that was so essential to his success.  Sen. Brown talked about the connection between that voting card and that Cleveland Browns football player named Ryan who was a physicist at Stanford who installed the voting card many years later.

“So I’ll make another California connection.  As a Californian, I take special delight in the connection between Menlo Park, New Jersey and Menlo Park, California.  The Wizard of Menlo Park.  How fitting that Menlo Park, California – named years before the New Jersey development made famous by Edison’s labs – is now home to the wizardry of our own time: Silicon Valley.  None of that would have happened, though, without Thomas Edison.

“Again and again, the world was transformed by Edison’s genius – the diligence that powered discovery.  He was about two things: he was about invention and he was about discovery – discovery of what works and what doesn’t; creativity, the heroic work ethic that brought his ideas to fruition.

“Technology has marched on, but Edison’s achievements still stir our imaginations; still touch our hearts with pride and wonder.  In Thomas Edison, we behold the power of applied science and American innovation to illuminate the world.

“50 years after the invention of the incandescent bulb, at Edison’s Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, President Calvin Coolidge said, ‘Few men have possessed to such a striking degree the blending of the imagination of the dreamer with the practical, driving force of the doer.’  ‘Edison,’ Coolidge proclaimed, ‘represents the finest tradition of our citizenship.’

“Indeed, Edison embodies the creative essence of America – not only the invention of things, but the spirit of innovation at the soul of our national character – innovation, entrepreneurship, discovery, creativity.

“Here in Congress, we have a special responsibility to help sustain and advance America’s leadership in innovation.  We must take inventory of the ingredients needed to foster a new generation of Edisons – how could there be a whole generation of Edisons?  But in the spirit of Edison, recognizing the importance of a respect for science, patience for the time it takes, the investment in resources to produce breakthroughs, and remembering that – for most people – innovation begins in the classroom.  In this case, the classroom of his mother, Nancy.

“The statues that fill the Capitol serve for more than commemoration.  They are inspiration.

“Edison was never content to rest on his laurels.  He was always relentlessly perfecting, always hungry for a new idea.  He thought entrepreneurially.

“Let Edison’s presence in these hallowed halls challenge us to embrace that same determination, dissatisfaction and daring and optimism.  Let Thomas Edison’s memory remind us of the invention and innovation that keeps America number one.  Thank you, Ohio, for sending us Thomas Edison to the Capitol.”