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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 14, 2005
President Presents National Medals of Science and Technology
The East Room
10:24 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. It's an honor to be in the company of so many bright and distinguished Americans. All of you have been blessed with great talent and you have applied your talent to great purposes. Your work is making our country more competitive, more hopeful, and more prosperous. On behalf of a grateful nation, congratulations for earning the National Medals of Science and Technology.
I want to welcome your families and friends who are here with you. I know your family members are equally proud of your accomplishment. I appreciate Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez joining us; Dr. Jack Marburger, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Phil Bond; Arden Bement; members of the National Science Foundation; members of the board of the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation -- they'd be the reason you're here -- (laughter) -- previous recipients of the National Medals of Science and Technology.
I want to thank the members of Congress who have joined us: Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland is with us; Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland; Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California who is coming; Judy Biggert, Congresswoman from Illinois; Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington; and Congresswoman Katherine Harris of Florida.
Over the years, the East Room has hosted some of the White House's most memorable events. Long before any President held an awards ceremony here, it was the home to Thomas Jefferson's secretary, Meriwether Lewis -- not a bad place for a guy to camp out. (Laughter.) He didn't stay here long, because in 1803, President Jefferson gave him a new assignment, a daring mission to explore the West. The President also gave him a letter of unlimited government credit to cover every possible expense. Disappointed to say, your medal doesn't come with such presidential decree. (Laughter.)
Over the centuries, the same passion for discovery that drove Lewis and Clarke to the Pacific has also led bold Americans to master the miracle of flight, to conquer dreaded diseases, and explore the frontiers of space. To reward and encourage America's spirit of innovation, Congress created the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology. These are the most prestigious honors the President can bestow for achievement in science and technology. Today, I am proud to recognize a diverse and deserving group of American citizens, what we call pioneers.
The laureates we honor today have made new and lasting contributions in fields from mathematics to behavioral science, to geology, to genetics. You've discovered new clues about the behavior of viruses, the workings of the human mind, and the shape of the universe. Many of your breakthroughs are changing entire industries, from airline safety to chemical production, to computer software and networking. Your efforts to improve energy development and expand health care technology and reduce auto pollution are bringing the promise of a better future to people all around our globe.
Your experiences vary widely; yet all of you share some common traits. As innovators, you heard a calling to challenge the status quo. You weren't afraid to ask important questions. You applied rigorous standards to your research. I suspect some of you suffered some setbacks, yet you didn't get discouraged. You followed where the evidence led. You revised your methods, but not your ambitions. And through a lifetime of hard work, you have produced accomplishments that will endure beyond your years.
For most of you, the journey of this day began when someone engaged your curiosity -- a schoolteacher, or a parent, or a caring adult in your community. As your interest grew, you found a mentor in your field, a generous soul who added to your experience and raised your sights. Many of you have repaid that debt by devoting a part of your career to teaching, and I want to thank you for that. I appreciate the fine example that you have set for aspiring young scientists, like those from Benjamin Banneker High School who are with us, or the Intel Science Talent Search folks who have joined us from all around our country. I want to welcome you all here. I appreciate you witnessing this important ceremony.
As you go on to greater accomplishments, I hope our recipients will continue to foster and encourage the scientists and technological leaders of tomorrow. By pursuing your curiosity, all of you have achieved historic results. You bring credit to yourselves, to your families, and to our country. You have our country's gratitude. You have earned our respect.
Once again, thank you for coming to the White House. Congratulations for your awards. The Military Aide will read the citations, and afterwards, I hope you will join us in a reception -- back there. (Laughter.)
Read the words, please. (Applause.)
END 10:40 A.M. EST