Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following remarks today upon awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama:
“In the history of our Republic, the Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded just 145 times. Less than one per year. Each and every recipient, from George Washington to Mother Teresa to Elie Wiesel – whom some call an author, but I call a poet – each one has made a staggering and indelible contribution to the cultural fabric of our country and world.
“Today we gather – a president and a poet, Members of Congress and members of the clergy – to award the 146th Gold Medal. And I can think of no one living on the earth today more deserving of this honor than His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
“For the people of his nation, he is spiritual leader and emissary to the world – the voice of their suffering and the steady hand that guides their path. For those who are oppressed throughout the world beyond the borders of Tibet, he is a voice of reason in crisis and wisdom in chaos. For all of us, he represents the very best of humanity: a child of humble farmers from a town of just hundreds who rose to inspire millions and move the world closer to peace.
“His Holiness has received countless honorary doctorates and virtually every major humanitarian award, including the Nobel Peace Prize. The Congressional Gold Medal is just the latest recognition of his life’s work. But he would be the first to say that awards are not what really matters.
“Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Die when I may, I want it said of me, by those who knew me best, that I always picked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.’
“As we honor His Holiness, the seeds of peaceful resistance that he has planted are flowering throughout the world – especially in places like Burma, where citizens are working peacefully to reject oppression and embrace a bright new day of freedom.
“It is a rare privilege to share this stage and this day with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. He is a one-man warrior for peace. He is a one-man warrior for spirituality.”