Pelosi Remarks at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Honoring President Shimon Peres

June 26, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring former Israeli President Shimon Peres.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Good morning.  Mr. Vice President, President Peres, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader, Mr. Leader, Mr. Leader, my colleagues in the Congress, our friends in the Senate, Madam Secretary: Today, Congress is bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal on a truly historic figure.  All of us in this room will always be able to boast that we were there when Congress honored this iconic figure and friend of America.

“Shimon Peres planted the seeds of the Jewish state of Israel and helped that garden grow – whether literally in the blooming of the desert, or more significantly in the blossoming of a society and a people.  A soldier who became a peacemaker; an immigrant who became an institution; a public servant who became a statesman, a champion of non-violence, a messenger of hope; an idealist who understood pragmatism; a founder of his nation who became, and remains, a visionary for his and all people: Shimon Peres' story is the story of modern Israel – a saga of daring, dynamism, and wisdom.

“‘Israel, like America,’ President Peres once said, ‘was conceived as an idea borne in defiance of history, creating a new world by drawing the values of the past and the innovations of the future.’  Few alive can claim to have done so much for the success of that idea; and even at the age of 90, this farmer, fighter, author, Nobel peace prize winner, prime minister and president continues to guide his nation into tomorrow.

“Just as an aside, I remember when at the White House we celebrated his 90th birthday last year, he spent his speech talking about innovation – technologies of the future.

“Shimon Peres' dream has long been, and will forever be, the dream of a nation free to live in peace and security in the homeland of the Jewish people.  He dreams of a dawn when every man and woman across the Middle East may wake up, as he says, ‘free to be free.’  And as Shimon Peres would surely remind us, with the words of Theodore Herzl, ‘if you will it, it is not a dream.’

“May God bless Shimon Peres, his dreams, and his will to serve the state of Israel and the path of peace.  May his spirit, and the spirit of the entire, pioneering generation of Israel's founders, live on in our actions today and in the future.  May Israel long be recognized as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century – and a beacon of hope, democracy, and justice into the 21st century and beyond.  May this gold medal always serve as a stirring symbol of our deep respect for Shimon Peres, our unending admiration for Israel's people, and the unbreakable friendship between our country and the nation of Israel.

“As the Speaker said earlier, the first recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal was our Founding Father, George Washington.  Today, we bestow it on another Founding Father.  Both of them, in accepting the award, bring luster to the award.

“Thank you, President Peres, for receiving this honor.  Your accepting it brings honor to the Congress and luster to the award.  Thank you. ”