Pelosi Remarks at Women's History Month Reception Honoring Ambassador Lindy Boggs

March 13, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted a Women’s History Month reception paying tribute to Ambassador Lindy Boggs’ legacy of inspiring generations of women leaders with her pioneering role as a woman of firsts.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Good afternoon everyone.  Thank you very much for honoring us with your presence, each of you, as we honor a great lady in March – Women’s History Month.  Those of us who serve in Congress and all of us who worked with Lindy believe it is so, that we are all standing on the shoulders of giants, on the shoulders of suffragettes – Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and so many others, Sojourner Truth.  Last week we dedicated the statue of Rosa Parks; more than 100 years ago last Sunday, the women marched in Washington, D.C., for the right to vote.  When it was finally achieved they said: ‘women were given the right to vote.’  Well not quite given, we had worked for it and women had earned it and then women had the right to vote.

“It’s hard to imagine, but right about the time that women were getting the right to vote, Lindy Boggs was born and she has seen in her childhood, in her youth, in her young, long life, and in her service in Congress, as an Ambassador of our nation, so much that has happened in our country and she has contributed so much to it.  So much to it that there is a room named for Lindy Boggs in the Capitol of the United States and if your schedule allows you can go in there and see her beautiful portrait in the Lindy Boggs room.  It makes us all so proud and every day that any of us walks in there we feel inspired by her because she was the first for many reasons – the first, and only, woman elected to Congress from Louisiana.  The first woman to receive the Congressional Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars – she had big reach.  The first woman to preside over a major party convention, as a permanent chairwoman of 1976 [Democratic National Convention].

“Lindy Boggs, I’m going to just tell you two quick stories about Lindy Boggs that are personal if you’ll permit it.  I love her very much, she and her husband, the Whip, Hale, they were friends of my father and mother because they came to the Congress around the same time, in the 1940s, my father in the 30s.  And so when I, I saw Lindy one day, she came to California on the site selection committee for the Democratic Convention for 1984 convention, I saw her – of course we had a beautiful reunion and I respect and admire her – Tommy and my husband Paul were in school at Georgetown together with his, another Boggs goes to school with my grandson, so the generations have, have kept in touch.  But that day, that time, I said: ‘Lindy, I feel so, like I have so many privileges.  I’m the chair of the host committee of the convention, I’m chair of the delegate selection committee, which was called the compliance review commission for the convention; I’m chair of the California Democratic Party.  I don’t know why they keep giving me these responsibilities; I would think I should share one of these titles with someone else.’  And she says, ‘darling, no man would have ever said that.’


“’And so, darling, know your power and use it.’  Actually, she said: ‘know thy power and use it.’  When I wrote my book, I used her title: ‘Know Your Power,’ to women, know your power and use it, Lindy Boggs, Ambassador, Member of Congress, leader.

“As I became her colleague, it was a tremendous honor, many of her colleagues who now serve, and former colleagues, but colleagues to Lindy when she was here will know, how – what a magical, wonderful inspiration she was to all of us.  I remember one day when I was feeling particularly, shall we say, enthusiastic on the floor in the debate, she came back and she said: ‘darling, Hale used to always say, never fight every fight as if it’s your last fight.’  Does that sound like Lindy?  She said: ‘these are your friends, you’re going to need each other as you go along.’  So, that was her advice, but just only one example of the many, many stories that all of us could tell about how she guided us so beautifully, so well, with such civility, with such intellect, with such care for the American people, and with such pride in the state of Louisiana.

“So, what better way to honor women and Women’s History Month than to honor Lindy.  So, when I called her and said: ‘let’s host an event March 13th?’  Then we find out it happens to be her birthday.  It’s a sign, right?  And then it happens to be the day that this former Ambassador to the Vatican, as we are celebrating her birthday, they name the new Pope, just for her, it’s to stir up even more excitement on this special day.  So many wonderful threads coming together, and no wonder, because she’s been involved in so many things.  She’s touched so many lives, so many aspects of our country, so many values of our world, almost any day is Lindy Boggs Day, in terms of her accomplishments.

“So, Lindy, thank you for being born.  Thank you for letting us honor you on your birthday.  And I thought it would be fun if we had some of our former colleagues who had served with Lindy share their toast in her honor.  And I want to start with another Ambassador, former Member of Congress, Margaret Heckler.  Margaret, thank you so much for being here, I know it means a great deal to Lindy.  It certainly means a great deal to the rest of us at this reception.”