Whether you like George Bush or not, you HAD to feel a tremendous amount of pride when he reached the end of his State of the Union Address and said the following:
When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look — and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.
Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine — but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. (Laughter.) Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth, or the duty to share his blessings with others. He built a brand new hospital in his old hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo a citizen of the United States of America. (Applause.)
After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children’s videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others — producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: “I believe it’s the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe.” And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur — Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)
Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into the space between the rails, and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. He says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We have got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. (Applause.)
Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire; he used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs — yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and the gratitude of our entire country. (Applause.)
In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America — and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country — and resilient, too. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence — because the State of our Union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on. God bless. (Applause.)
Anyone who watched as these Americans stood up to received the applause of our Congress should have been touched by this. If you can really look at such great American success stories and NOT feel proud to be an American, then you probably hate America and wouldn’t mind seeing us getting taken over by some socialist or communist regime.
Watching the New York City subway hero get up and take the applause of the Congress sent a shiver down my spine. That guy is someone that you and I probably walk by daily without even noticing him (and he not noticing us). Yet, within him lies a heroic streak just as one lies within us. As the President said, “there is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble” human beings like Americans.