Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda this morning honoring renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“Good morning. It is a special honor indeed to join President Bush, leaders of the House and Senate to honor Dr. Michael DeBakey. I want to specially commend Senator Hutchison and my colleague Representative Al Green, and others who worked with them for making this possible. It is really a joy indeed for us to pay tribute to this great man.
“Did you know when Dr. DeBakey was a little boy, his mother taught him how to sew? How lucky for all of us. She could not have imagined then that the little hands of her little boy would become some of the finest surgical instruments the world has ever known.
“In addition to teaching her son to sew, Dr. DeBakey's mother taught him to be compassionate, generous, and kind. Dr. DeBakey learned those values on weekly trips with his parents to visit children at the local orphanage.
“As Dr. DeBakey would later recall in his own words: ‘Learning to sew as a child isn't a prerequisite for becoming a good surgeon, but caring about people certainly is…making people feel better is the highest calling of all.'
“Among the millions of people around the world that Dr. DeBakey made feel better are many of our brave men and women in uniform. It is said in the military that on the battlefield, leave no soldier behind. Dr. DeBakey made that all much better by introducing MASH units, giving our soldiers not only recovery and life, but the courage to continue to fight.
“And we say that when those soldiers come home, we will leave no veteran behind. And Dr. DeBakey has made the Veterans Administration a better administration for our veterans. For all of us who honor our troops, their patriotism, their courage, and the sacrifices they are willing to make, all of us are deeply indebted to Dr. DeBakey.
“There are many families who are here today to express their gratitude to Dr. DeBakey for saving the lives of their loved ones. One of those families, of course, is the DeBakey family. Although Dr. DeBakey did not perform the surgery on himself, he was there to oversee and to observe, through his earlier work, to make sure it was not only good, but that it was perfect.
“With the gifts that God gave Dr. DeBakey, starting with his own family that he was born into and the family he has now, and the many gifts he received from God, he received an almost biblical power to cure. He used his gifts well and that is why it is a great honor for us today to honor him with a Congressional Gold Medal.
“Dr. DeBakey, we honor you for the compassion you learned from your parents and for the skill, talent, and innovation you have practiced for more than 70 years as one of our nation's medical pioneers.
“By literally fixing broken hearts, Dr. DeBakey has given hope and health to millions, and today it is our honor to give him the Congressional Gold Medal. Thank you, Dr. DeBakey.”