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Remarks by Mrs. Laura Bush at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring Aung San Suu Kyi

February 1, 2013 by Rachel Tatro

It is a privilege to add my voice to a global chorus of honors for Aung San Suu Kyi – and to send along the deep respect of my husband George as well. The transition in Burma – like past events in South Africa or Eastern Europe – shows that history has a hopeful direction.  It is capable of miracles.  There is a part of every soul that longs for freedom.  And any government built on oppression is built on sand. But as Mandela and Havel demonstrated, vast historical changes often begin in a single mind, a single heart.  And the hope that now grows in Burma is a tribute to Daw Suu. One of the most repressive governments on earth attempted to isolate and silence one woman.  It must have seemed an easy task.  Instead, the regime encountered an immovable object – and its legitimacy broke against her character.  Daw Suu became a symbol of courage, persistence and defiance – a symbol that integrity was still possible in Burma.  And the symbol became an inspiration for activists, monks and millions around the world. With her long isolation ended, some of us have finally met Daw Suu in person, and found, not a symbol, but a woman of tremendous humor, honesty and grace.  And that has only increased our admiration. When political prisoners are freed, and normal political life revives, it is the start of new tasks.  Burma has needed Daw Suu’s courage and patience.  Now it also needs her wisdom and leadership in the work of reform and reconciliation.  Her contribution to Burma is decades old – and just beginning. Today our country honors an exceptional woman who became the mother of her country.  And we pledge our support in all the work ahead. Thank you. - Laura Bush

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