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Pelosi Receives People for the American Way's Spirit of Liberty Award

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be honored with the People for the

American Way
's Spirit of Liberty Award tonight at a ceremony at the KennedyCenter.  Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:

'Thank you for that kind introduction Jim, and thank you People for the

American Way
for the honor of receiving the Spirit of Liberty award.  

'It is a particular honor to receive this award from Jim Hormel.  As Ambassador to Luxembourg, Jim Hormel represented America with great distinction.  It is an honor to call you Ambassador, and friend.

'And thank you Ralph Neas, for leading the way defend democracy.  You have shown great leadership and patriotism. 

'We gather tonight to celebrate the 25th anniversary of People for the

American Way
.  In so doing, we honor the original people for the American way: our Founding Fathers. 

'220 years ago, our Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia to draft our Constitution.  They were not wedded to old ways of thinking, or daunted by the encumbrances of the past or present. 

'They gathered as disrupters of the status quo and with great faith in the future.

'They shared optimism often uniquely found among young people - because many of them were young.  The youngest, Jonathan Dayton, was just 27 when he took pen to parchment - and just 35 when he became the 4th Speaker of the House. 

'In fact, more than one quarter of the drafters of our Constitution were in their twenties and thirties.  Alexander Hamilton was only 32, and James Madison was only 36. 

'And thank heavens they made our Constitution amendable.

'With the impatience of youth, these young leaders founded our democracy - and today, the Young People For, the Young Elected Officials network, and Democracia USA carry on their work.  

'In my recent travels as Speaker, I have met with presidents, prime ministers, and kings.  But I have been most impressed and inspired by my encounters with young people like you.

'Young people around the world are hungry for progress.  They want to know if their leaders have the courage to stop war.  They want equality, democracy, and freedom. 

'Young people at home want us to stand up for the American way. 

'It is the American way to protect and defend our Constitution while we protect and defend the American people. 

'It is the American way to demand an independent and fair judiciary.

'It is the American way to defend religious freedom and safeguard the separation between church and state. 

'It is the American way to recognize that every vote counts, and every vote must be counted.

'And it is the American way to honor our nation's founding principle: all of us are created equal; all of us are God's children. 

'So with the determination of our Founders, the confidence of our youth, and the optimism of the American people, let us preserve and expand the spirit of liberty - that is the American way. 

'Thank you People for the

American Way
.'