Lynne V. Cheney,
wife of Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States
often speaks of the history of America. Here are excerpts from her remarks
at a National Hispanic
Leadership Summit, July 13, 2004
Being a grandmother has given me a special interest in being sure that children know about this great country, and while my husband has been Vice President, I have published two children's books aimed at teaching America's story.
My most recent book, 'A is for Abigail', records the achievements of American women from Abigail Adams to Babe Didrickson Zaharias, who was one of the twentieth century's finest athletes, and in that book, I was pleased to honor the contributions of outstanding Hispanic women: Nancy Lopez, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, Mara Cadilla de Martnez, who was a leader in teaching and preserving Puerto Rican culture, Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera, stars of stage and screen, Jovita Idar, whose organization of Mexican women started schools for poor children and provided food and clothing for the needy in their community, and Gloria Anzalda, who wrote the book Borderlands.
My previous children's book, 'America: A Patriotic Primer', was also an alphabet book, and when I came to the V page, I was particularly struck by the heroic deeds performed on behalf of this country by Hispanics who have worn the uniform of the United States military: Congressional Medal of Honor awardees Jose Lopez, Benito Martinez, and Roy Benavidez, to name just a few. The story of Hispanic contributions to our country is an uplifting one, and I have been proud these past few years to have a small part in helping children learn about it.
History is my interest and my passion, and it's been an amazing privilege for me to have a front row seat on history over these past three and a half years, to watch our great nation rise up and comfort those whose lives were changed forever by the attacks of September 11, to see the President go on the offense against those bent on destroying us and at the same time work to strengthen our great nation here at home.
What has been accomplished is pretty amazing.
When George Bush and Dick Cheney were sworn into office on January 20, 2001, the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. Girls couldn't go to school, women who had been doctors and teachers and scientists couldn't practice their professions. It was a regime of unimaginable cruelty, whipping women in public if their ankles showed, and amputating their fingers if they were caught wearing nail polish. It is probably not surprising that such a regime was a haven for terrorists. Camps in Afghanistan were providing training in murder and destruction to thousands upon thousands of radical Islamists.
Now, three and a half years later, the Taliban have been driven from power, the terrorist camps are gone, girls and boys are going to school, women are healing and teaching and taking part in government. Just a few weeks ago, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, stood before the Congress and thanked the people of the United States for liberating his country. Three and a half years ago, that would have seemed unimaginable.
And so would the recent visit by Ghazi al Yawar, the president of Iraq. Three and a half years ago, Iraq was governed by a man who had murdered thousands upon thousands of his own people, including women and children. Saddam Hussein was one of the twentieth century's most brutal dictators. He started two wars, cultivated and used weapons of mass destruction, and was a major patron of terrorism. Now three and a half years later, his regime is history and he is in jail.
And let me just mention one other event of great significance to the security of our nation and our families, and that is the closing down of a network that was helping spread nuclear weapons.
Three and a half years ago, A. Q. Kahn, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, was selling nuclear weapons technology to rogue states -- Iran, North Korea, Libya. Moammar Ghadafi, A. Q. Kahn's biggest customer, was spending millions to acquire nuclear weapons design, basic uranium feedstock, and centrifuges to enrich uranium. But when Ghadafi witnessed America's determination in Afghanistan and Iraq, he gave up his nuclear ambitions. Five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, he announced he would turn over all of his weapons of mass destruction materials. The designs, the uranium, and the centrifuges now reside at a U.S. facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A. Q. Kahn, the proliferator, is now under house arrest in Pakistan, and his network is being dismantled. This was the world's worst source of proliferation.
In the fight for our freedom and security, our nation owes a mighty debt to the men and women of our armed forces. They are brave, they are determined, and they are focused. They are fighting the terrorists where they live so that firefighters, police, and civilians do not have to fight them in the streets of our own cities.
At the same time that the President and this Administration has moved forward on issues of national security, they have also worked aggressively on another issue important to all of us and our families, and that is the economy.
Three and a half years ago, when George Bush and Dick Cheney were sworn into office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then came the attacks of September 11 and the uncertainties that exist in a time of war. But with the President's leadership, we have come through these challenges. He worked with the Congress to pass three measures of tax relief, in 2001, 2002, and 2003. He has worked to keep the government from overstepping its limits by simplifying and eliminating regulations. And now we see an economy growing bigger and better.
In June, 2004 our country experienced its tenth consecutive month of job growth. American businesses have added over 1.5 million jobs since last August.
There are more numbers, and I think it's especially important to acknowledge them today because small businesses, like the ones many Hispanics run, are central to this economic recovery. They create 70 percent of the new jobs in this country and are the engine behind the economic growth of this past year -- growth of nearly five percent -- which represents the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Income and wages have been rising. Productivity is high. Business investment and factory orders have been rising.
America's economy is moving in the right direction.
Under girding the policies of this administration is the President's understanding that government doesn't create jobs. What government can do is establish the atmosphere in which business women and men all across this country can create jobs. And that starts by leaving more money in the pockets of business women and men, money that you can use to invest and grow. Because the President has cut marginal tax rates, millions of business owners who are sole proprietors have directly benefited. They pay taxes on business profits at the individual income rate, and as those rates have dropped -- as a result of the President's policies -- so have the tax bills.
President Bush has also provided incentives to small businesses to invest in new equipment. A few weeks ago in Nevada, I listened to Gustavo Gutierrez explain how this new approach has allowed him to expand. A few days before, I listened to the owners of a small business in Ohio explain how these incentives have allowed them to acquire the machinery they need.
In the years ahead, the President intends to maintain his pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur strategy. One important goal will be to create certainty in the tax code. Families and entrepreneurs need to be able to plan for the future. But unless the Congress acts, the tax relief that has proven so successful is going to expire. An important goal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
One last point I want to emphasize today has to do with the President's education agenda.
I first got to know President Bush when he was Governor of Texas and determined to improve that state's school. He worked in a totally bipartisan way to enact reforms that set high standards and demanded results. All Texas students were the beneficiaries. Between 1992, the year of the last National Assessment of Educational Progress before George W. Bush became governor of Texas, and 2003, the year of the most recent results, the portion of all Texas 4th graders scoring at or above the "basic" level in mathematics went up by 26 percentage points. The portion of Hispanic fourth graders in Texas scoring at or above "basic" rose 35 percentage points. In terms of their percentage point improvement since 1992, Hispanic students in Texas are tied for first in the nation.
When he was elected President in 2000, George W. Bush brought his commitment to schools to Washington.
He submitted his framework for education reform just three days after taking office, and less than a year later, he won overwhelming bipartisan passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. That legislation set the lofty goal of providing a quality education for every child. It mandated testing and accountability to encourage all schools to better educate all children.
It's been only two and a half years since this landmark legislation was enacted, but it's possible to see promising signs. In the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which I earlier talked about with regard to Texas, there was significant progress across the nation among all groups of students and some narrowing of achievement gaps since the year 2000. A survey by the Council of Great City Schools, analyzing student achievement in inner cities through the spring of 2003, found significant improvement in math and reading as well as evidence of a narrowing achievement gap between Hispanic and Anglo students.
Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has increased funding for elementary and secondary education by 49%, support for teachers by 39%, and Title I funding by 52%. Under this administration, the Federal Government is fulfilling its responsibilities to our schools, and not just by dramatically increasing education spending, but by investing in a plan, and that plan is No Child Left Behind.
I have been proud to campaign for this President. He has a clear vision for the future of the nation. Abroad, he will use America's great power to serve great purposes -- to protect our homeland by turning back the forces of terror, and spread hope and freedom throughout the world. Here at home, this Administration will continued building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child who grows up in the United States will have a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.
Thank you very much for being here today, and for inviting me.
Excerpts from: "Service: An Enduring American Strength" -- United Way Summit on Women in Philanthropy, Atlanta, GA, May 16, 2003
As you have heard me say, being a grandmother has made me focus more intensely than ever on children and especially on their need for an education that provides them essential knowledge and skills. They need to know how to read and do math. They need the basic skills that will help them to pursue knowledge in many fields.
And there is one course of study that I have become a particularly ardent advocate for, and that is the study of history and American history in particular. Our children should know about the founders and the noble ideals upon which they built our country. Our children should know about abolitionists, and those dedicated to civil rights. They should know about suffragists, all those who since the founding have helped us do a better and better job of living up to our ideals. Our children should also know about the enduring strengths of our nation, and surely among the most important of those is the idea of service to others.
Since history is my enduring interest, I'd like to take just a few minutes to place the work you are doing in the context of time, to reach back and talk about some of those who preceded those of us here today and made altruism such an inextricable part of the American story.
One of the foremothers of this event today, surely, was a farm girl from Massachusetts who was quite small, very smart, and deeply shy. As a teenager, she discovered that working with children helped her to overcome her painful self-consciousness, and for many years she was a teacher. She left that profession in frustration, however, when she realized that no matter how hard she worked and how good a teacher she was, she would never rise as high in teaching as men she worked with.
She subsequently moved to Washington, D.C., and she was there when the Civil War broke out. She realized after the battle of Bull Run, which occurred close to Washington, that Union forces did not have the supplies they needed to care for wounded soldiers, and so she began to advertise for bandages and anesthetics and to organize ways to get them to the battlefield. The army was not entirely thrilled with her efforts. They didn't particularly want unmarried women out in the field, but she finally got permission, and she arrived at battle after battle with wagonloads of much needed medical supplies. She herself began to help the wounded, bandaging them, comforting them. Clara Barton, for that was her name, soon became known as the Angel of the Battlefield. She had found her life's work, and after the war she sought other ways to help those in distress. In 1881, she founded the American Red Cross, and for many years she was its leader.
Another of the foremothers of this event today came from a very wealthy family, but she spent her life among the poor. Her mother died when she was only two, but her father, who counted Abraham Lincoln among his friends, encouraged her to a life of responsibility and high purpose.
In 1889, after she had graduated from college, she and a friend moved into the slums of Chicago and invited their new neighbors into their home. Soon Jane Addams and her friend and other idealistic women who joined them were offering visitors to Hull House, for that was the name of Jane Addams' home, everything from hot lunches to a place to bathe. There were classes in subjects ranging from English to physics to singing. There was medical care, child care, legal aid, and inspiration aplenty for others who wanted to help the poor. By the turn of the century, there were about a hundred centers like Hull House in cities all across the country.
Jane Addams became a political activist, focusing on labor law and juvenile justice. She was a leader in the international peace movement and in 1931, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Convinced that women should have the right to vote, she also took up the suffrage cause, reassuring her audiences -- with, I have to think, a twinkle in her eye -- that she did not think women were better than men. "We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done," she said. And she added, "But then we must remember that we have not had the chance."
Another woman to whom those of us in this room -- indeed, those of us in this nation -- are deeply indebted had a life animated by the quest for justice for women. Born in Johnstown, New York, she had five sisters and five brothers. But children often died young in the nineteenth century and only one of her brothers survived to adulthood. When he died at the age of twenty, the father of the family was devastated, and the girl, Elizabeth, remembered her whole life how she had crawled onto her father's lap and tried to comfort him. "At length," she wrote years later, "he heaved a deep sigh and said, 'Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy!'" And to her grieving father she replied, "I will try to be all my brother was."
And she did exactly that. "She succeeded in what were then considered masculine fields," her biographer Elisabeth Griffith observes. "She won second place in the Johnstown Academy Greek competition, she learned to jump four-foot fences [on her horse], and she became a skilled debater." But rather than being pleased, her father began to worry. In his eyes--and in the eyes of the world at the time--she was becoming entirely too good at undertakings that were suitable only for males.
And so Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided to change the world, and she had the intellect and analytical skills to do it. For fifty years, most of them spent in Seneca Falls, New York, she, together with her dear friend, Susan B. Anthony, was the driving force behind the movement to improve the lot of American women. Stanton argued, among other things, for property rights, the right to attend college, the right to participate in athletics, and the right to vote. She spoke and wrote and agitated, and, I should note, raised seven children.
I doubt that either Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony knew at the outset that their struggle would be so long or, indeed, that both of them would die before women finally, in 1920, achieved the right to vote. But Stanton and Anthony had supreme conviction that their cause was just and would prevail. As Anthony put it, "Failure is impossible!"
Many women volunteered in the cause of suffrage and there is one other I want to make note of today. Her name was Sojourner Truth, she was born in slavery, and after she gained her freedom she became an eloquent champion of the rights of African Americans and women. She had a voice that boomed with authority. She stood nearly six feet tall, and she became righteously indignant when she heard people claim that women were too weak to be full citizens.
"I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns," she said, "and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man -- when I could get it -- and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?"
She talked about seeing her children sold off to slavery, "and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me!" she said, "And ain't I a woman?"
History offers many lessons, and surely one is about our debt to the past. As Susan B. Anthony so eloquently put it in 1897,
"There is not one foot of advance ground upon which women stand today that has not been obtained through the hard-fought battles of other women."
Another of history's lessons is about the ties that bind us. It is about "an inescapable network of mutuality," as Martin Luther King, Jr. called it, that connects us, all of us in the present to those in the past and all of us in the present to one another.
In doing good for babies and children and the less fortunate adults among us, those of you here today are carrying on the work of women who came before you, and you will inspire others who come after. Like Clara Barton, Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth, you are making our country and our world a better place.
Your commitment is a gift to us all, and I thank you for it.
Here now is an interesting article sent to me by a cousin.
Subject: Article in Romanian Newspaper
We rarely get a chance to see another country's editorial about the USA.
Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper. The article was written by
Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title "C"ntarea Americii meaning "Ode To America") on September 24, 2002 in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei ("The Daily Event" or "News of the Day").
~An Ode to America~
Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if You painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.
Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, and the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers.
Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the
streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood
and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every
place and on every car a government official or the president was passing.
On every occasion, they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!" I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.
How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being?
Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some
turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call,
millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace.
I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion...
Only freedom can work such miracles.
Apropos of those comments here is Lynne Cheney again:
When a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States more than a century and a half ago, he was struck by how often he saw Americans helping and supporting one another. He speculated that it was the freedom and right to self-determination that Americans experienced that accounted for our eagerness to work for the good of our fellow citizens.
In the last few years, when we have found ourselves and our great nation under attack, we have seen Americans reaching out to those in need with unprecedented compassion and generosity. The President has noted that this is a moment we must build on. He has asked each of us to renew our commitment to assisting those who need our help. Looking around this room and thinking of all the good things those of you here have made possible and of all you will do in the future, I think this must be a model of the generosity of spirit effectively deployed that the President had in mind.
To all of the above, I can only add 'AMEN'
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