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 Home > News & Policies > November 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 6, 2003

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the National Medals of Science and Technology
The East Room

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3:04 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much, please be seated. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to be in such distinguished company here in the East Room. I want to congratulate our honorees, and I want to welcome your families and friends.

Each year, our nation honors outstanding work in science and technology. These honorees have given exceptional service in their fields, and bring great credit to themselves and credit to our country. Today, we express America's pride in their achievement and our respect for these National Laureates of Science and Technology.

I want to thank Sam Bodman, who is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce for joining us. I thank Phil Bond, who is the Under Secretary of Technology for the Department of Commerce. I want to thank the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the President, Dr. John Marburger, for being here. Arden Bement is the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, thank you, sir. Rita Colwell is the Director of the National Science Foundation. John Bordogna is the Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation. Thank you all for coming.

I want to thank the panelists who selected this outstanding group of laureates for their hard work. We've got two members of the United States Senate with us today, members from the mighty Delaware delegation. (Laughter.) Joe Biden and Tom Carper, welcome. Thank you all for coming, appreciate you being here.

We've got students from Benjamin Banneker High School with us today. I found it very interesting and wise that the students met one-on-one with each of the laureates to help develop their interest in science. Thank you for not only being scholars and pioneers, but teachers, as well.

The National Medal of Science honors pioneering scientific research that has enhanced our basic understanding of life and the world around us. The National Medal of Technology recognizes the achievements of men and women who embody the spirit of American innovation and have enhanced the nation's global competitiveness. Both these medals are authorized by acts of Congress. They're the highest honors the President can bestow for attainment in science and technology.

The men and women we honor today probably didn't begin their careers with the expectation of receiving such honors. Most great achievers in the fields of science and technology have a sense of calling. They're drawn to the work by their curiosity and by their talent. They carry out their work with patient effort and the openness to truth that leads to discovery. The highest reward for their work is the good they do, and the knowledge they leave behind.

The medals we confer today are a way of expressing our own gratitude to some of the most gifted and visionary men and women in America. The men and women are helping to enhance the nation's health and economic prosperity. They've made their contributions to progress in a variety of fields -- from physics to genetics, to mathematical theory, to engineering, to the development of the semiconductors. Some of them have made achievements beyond their own fields of endeavor, thereby showing the great potential of interdisciplinary research. Each of these recipients has set a standard of excellence. Each is widely admired by peers and sets a fine example for the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers. And all of them represent the finest qualities of their professions and the finest qualities of our country.

This great nation provides opportunities and institutions that make achievement possible. We've got a vibrant free enterprise system, we've got the world's finest universities, and generous support for scientific and technological endeavor. Yet, all the great achievements we honor today are the sum of individual effort. And when we speak of American creativity and American ingenuity, we're speaking of men and women like our National Laureates of Science and Technology. They have freely accepted the toil of overcoming challenges. They have put their considerable gifts to good purpose. Their fellow Americans are grateful to them, all humanity is in your debt.

And now I ask the military aide to read the citations. It's my honor to present the medals to the National Laureates of Science and Technology.

(The medals are presented.) (Applause.)

END 3:20 P.M. EST