President Bush’s Remarks on Awarding Medal to Tom Lantos

Posted on June 20, 2008 In Blog

A a White House ceremony yesterday to honor the 2008 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Bush made the following remarks about the late Tom Lantos (D-CA):

“On Capitol Hill, Tom displayed the energy and enthusiasm of people half his age. When he was in his seventies, he said that he was at the midpoint of his Congressional career. (Laughter.) When he was diagnosed with a fatal form of cancer, he responded with typical grace. As he announced his decision to retire from the job he loved, his words were not of despair, but of gratitude for a nation that had given him so much. Only in America, he said, could a penniless survivor of the Holocaust receive an education, raise a family, and have the privilege of serving in the Congress. That dying servant of the people then said this: “I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.”

America is equally grateful to Tom Lantos. We miss his powerful voice and his strong Hungarian accent. (Laughter.) We miss his generosity of spirit. And we miss his vigorous defense of human rights and his powerful witness for the cause of human freedom. For a lifetime of leadership, for his commitment to liberty, and for his devoted service to his adopted nation, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously, to Tom Lantos, and proud that his loving wife Annette will receive the award on behalf of his family.” (Applause.)