For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 25, 2001
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at 'Learning Leaders'
New York, New York
First, I want to congratulate all New Yorkers in the incredible spirit and courage you've shown America and the world over the last two weeks. We are inspired by your bravery and your sense of community.
Thank you, Clara (Alonzo), Mrs. Maldrow, Tom, and Sheila for the kind introduction. Your words remind us how much our children change our lives. We learn a lot from them.
What a thrill to hear Pete Seeger sing. Thank you.
Erma Bombeck once said, "Children make your life important." They really do, and right now, we need to let them know that they are important.
More than ever parents, principals, teachers and school volunteers need to give extra attention and love to the children of America.
Of course, you are already doing that; and we appreciate you and thank you.
Teachers and school volunteers do an amazing job, and America knows and appreciates your strength, especially during the past two weeks.
We salute the incredible courage of those working in schools in the shadow of the World Trade Center on September 11.
Teachers, school staff and volunteers became cool-headed heroes who shepherded, sheltered, and saved children.
Lives were saved and many hearts were comforted.
In the days that followed, I know that you gave, and continue to give far above and beyond what is normally expected.
Young lives have been impacted, but you soften that impact.
Two weeks later, children are grappling with what's happened two weeks later adults are, too.
I read about a four-year-old who couldn't comprehend how people can hate a whole country of people they don't even know.
Her solution? She said, "Maybe we should just tell them our names."
There are no limits to the outpouring of love.
In one of Washington DC's poorest neighborhoods, local schoolchildren started a penny drive.
They collected nearly three hundred dollars to donate to the American Red Cross.
Students are sending drawings and cards to police or fire stations; teen-agers are donating blood and volunteering with relief organizations.
Children want to understand; more importantly they want to help.
And America is fortunate that you are there to help them find ways to do so.
You listen when children need to talk. You reassure them when they are uncertain, you acknowledge their feelings and by doing so, you help them build confidence.
Teachers have a demanding job ahead of them.
They will restore calm and routine. They will ease their students back into the regular pattern of school life, all the while teaching their daily lessons.
As teachers comfort their students, who will comfort the teachers?
That's where you come in, Learning Leaders volunteers will comfort the teachers, as you have for nearly half a century.
You have a special role to play you are there to help with the children, to offer hugs and to listen, to run errands for teachers or to help them mind their classes.
You're good people of good heart, and I want to say to each learning leader here today, thank you for your efforts.
Countless blessings have been revealed in the aftermath. You are one of them.
As we rebuild and recover from the tragedy of September 11, we must remember that, while our lives have changed forever our purpose as educators and as volunteers remains the same.
When President Bush was Governor, once a year he would recognize volunteers from across the state who had done outstanding work for others.
We loved attending the annual ceremonies honoring those volunteers, and I'll never forget one year in particular, when President Bush honored an 81-year-old woman named Helen.
Helen was a volunteer in a Dallas hospital for children.
One day Helen was mugged. She was knocked down and robbed. A broken hip kept her from volunteering.
When she finally returned to her work at the hospital, her friends gathered around her and told her how angry they were about what had happened to her.
Helen smiled and said to them, "Only one man knocked me down. TWO came and picked me up."
That's what Learning Leaders is all about, helping us up.
President Bush joins me in applauding you for making a difference.
Thank you for your commitment, for your kindness, and for your dedication to the children of New York.
God bless you.
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