Sep 21, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi COVID-19 Memorial Speech Transcript
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at a memorial for COVID-19 victims on September 21, 2021. Read the transcript of the speech here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:07)
Thank you very much, Suzanne, for your beautiful words, your great artistry, and for your invitation to join you in the celebration of the lives of all of these people. I sat as your Speaker of the House to bring greetings and prayers and our heartbreak of the Congress. And our intention to crush the virus with several of my colleagues, chairs of committees and subcommittees, Chairman Jim Himes of Connecticut, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamichi of Oregon, Congressman Mark Decano. I should be saying chairman, chairman, chairman every time. He’s now the chairman of the veterans committee, Mark Decano. And earlier, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who was here to plant some flags earlier today.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:58)
We;re in session. So we are a representation of our members, so many of whom share this grief and bring greetings and unity to all of you. Being an artist, Susan talked about the art being open to interpretation, and she talked about this to be a surrender, or it could be a remembrance in the rest.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:23)
But as we look at this work of art and see it fluttering in the breeze, it really is an interpretation of the lives of these people waving to us to remember. And that is, of course, the theme of today in America, remember, remember 676,286. And the number is growing as we stand here. This number has surpassed the number of Americans who died from the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago. That’s a tragic record to break and it isn’t over yet. We take some pride in the work of Doug, who was acknowledged for joining Suzanne. And of Samantha, their daughter has been a part of this. We were all together. And well, it seems like yesterday, but it was a year ago. I know it was very cold that day when we’re at the stadium, when we were like around a quarter of a million who had died by then, and it seemed like a hopeless number that we had to stop.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:34)
And here we are 400,000 more today, dangerously close to a 700,000 mark. We have to reign it in. We know that. How could this happen in America? That’s what it was called last year, Today in America We Remember. The difference between then and now is that President Biden has been to crush the virus in every way. Because strong leadership working with Congress, 180 million Americans across the nation have been fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates are once again on the rise in recent weeks, and that is important, but to defeat the virus for good, we must get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible. And now the vaccinations are available for children. Suzanne also talked about [inaudible 00:03:30] pluribus Unum. Let us have this visual manifestation of art and life bring us together, express our shared grief, and offer our hope for the future.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:45)
As I look on this here in this particular setting, I’m reminding of another tribute that I was part of 30 years ago or more. And when the AIDS quilt came out to the mall. Nothing could be as eloquent as a manifestation of sadness than art. We all see it as we do, but all of us grieve together, are inspired together, and renew our pledge to remember. To remember and in remembering to make sure that the number doesn’t grow. And again, we look at these flags and we think of the family, someone missing from the table at dinner, missing from the conversation in family. I was reading some of the statements on the flags, one of them to Papa. “We miss you,” he’s their grandfather. We miss you, statements of love, which hopefully are a comfort to the family. But I know that many of these people are people of faith and they believe that their message is being received. And they’re receiving that message that not only our prayers, but the prayers of the departed also bring solution to all of this.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:04)
So again, thank you, Suzanne. I want to pay tribute to Craig Rupert. My, this is so remarkable. Thank you so much. This is so much… As always with art, it looks so together, but it takes so much to make it happen. So again, I want you on behalf of the Congress of the United States, say thank you to Suzanne, Doug, and Samantha, and also to Craig and everyone. There are so many others who help support, finance, design, and spread the word on this beautiful manifestation of humanity in the form of art to inspire us, to always remember and try to limit the number of flags in the next manifestation of loss of life. Thank you all for being here. Thank you, Suzanne, Samantha, and Doug, and also Craig, and I want to thank my colleagues because they’ve worked very hard. This is a priority for them. And Mr. Himes, Mr. Tonko, Congresswoman Bonamichi, and Mr. Decano, Congressman Dingell, but so many others.