Lowell, Mass. - In a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 people, Speaker Nancy Pelosi today praised former Congressman Martin Meehan of Massachusetts as he was installed as chancellor of his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Below are Pelosi's remarks, as prepared.
“For nearly 15 years, Marty Meehan was a leader in the House of Representatives and a friend to all of us in Congress. He brought the values of Lowell to Washington D.C., and now brings his reputation as a reformer of Washington to his new position as Chancellor of UMass-Lowell.
“As a favorite son of Lowell, Marty has lived in these neighborhoods his entire life, he went to Lowell's schools, and he played on Lowell's baseball fields.
“It is on those baseball fields that I like to think Marty developed his political idealism.
“You see, when Marty was a child, his father was his Little League coach. And though Marty loved his Dad, at first he didn't like the way his father ran his Little League team.
“Marty's father believed that every child on the team should be given equal opportunity to play - no matter the score, and no matter the inning. Even when the score was tied and the bases were loaded, Marty's dad ensured that the worst players on the team were given their chance.
“Marty might have objected to the way his Dad ran a baseball team, but he decided that was the way we should run a nation. It was here in Lowell that Marty Meehan became a champion for the little guy. That was the hallmark of his work in Congress.
“Marty Meehan believes every person should have the opportunity to be healthy. That's why he single-handedly took on Big Tobacco…and won, literally writing the book on how to prosecute cigarette manufacturers.
“Marty Meehan believes that every American should have their voice heard in Congress. That's why he passed sweeping campaign finance reform legislation and broke the stranglehold lobbyists had over legislation.
“Marty Meehan believes that every brave soldier should have an opportunity to serve their country. That's why he fought the discriminatory ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' policy.
“Marty Meehan believes that all people should enjoy the freedoms we enjoy here in America. That's why he has worked for democracy around the world. I saw his leadership firsthand when I traveled as part of a delegation with him to El Salvador in 1993, where we helped to ensure democratic elections after a 12-year, brutal civil war.
“But nowhere is Marty Meehan's commitment to all people more evident than in his work on higher education - now his vocation.
“Marty Meehan believes that higher education is the greatest investment a person can make in themselves, a family can make in its children, and a nation can make in its future strength.
“Chancellor Meehan learned the value of education from his family -- all of his sisters are teachers. He learned that here at UMass-Lowell, where as an undergraduate he was given the skills that have helped him succeed.
“And now, as Chancellor of his alma mater, he is lifting people up through education. By training young people for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow he's making an investment in their future success, and the success of this entire region.
“Today, as we honor Marty Meehan, we also recognize the love and support of his wife, Ellen Murphy, and their two boys, Daniel and Robert, who have helped make today so happy.
“Ellen and Marty have made a commitment to raise their boys here - ensuring they grow up with the values Marty learned on the baseball fields of Lowell.
“As Speaker of the House, I come here today to pay tribute on behalf of all Members of Congress to Chancellor Marty Meehan. Although a rising star in Washington, he was always a son of Lowell.
“Marty: we wish you all the success that you enjoyed in the House here in your hometown and at your alma mater, UMass-Lowell.'