Para ver este documento
en español, oprima aquí.
The White House: Remarks by the President During Medal
of Freedom Event
August 13, 1999
Copyright © 1999 M2 COMMUNICATIONS, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: President Kennedy once said that
a nation reveals itself not only by the people it produces, but
by the people it honors. Today, we honor men and women who represent
the best of America with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Lloyd M. Bentsen
Edgar M. Bronfman Sr.
Sister M. Isolina Ferre
Gerald R. Ford
Oliver White Hill,
(Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter received their medals in Atlanta.)
Our nation's founders believed, as do we, that freedom is a
gift of God, not only to be defended, but to be used to improve
the human condition, to deepen the reach of freedom, to widen
the circle of opportunity, to strengthen the bonds of our national
By words and deeds, the Americans we honor today have done
just that. And in honoring them, we honor also the values and
principles of our nation's founding and our nation's future.
For more than 20 years, in a poverty-stricken barrio in Puerto
Rico, Sister Isolina Ferre started passing out cameras to children.
She told them to photograph whatever they saw. The point of the
project, she later recalled, was not just to teach young people
to take pictures, but to teach them to take pride in themselves.
That is what Sister Isolina does best: teaching people to see
the best in themselves and in their communities, and making sure
they had the tools to make the most of the gifts God has given
Armed only with her faith, she taught warring gangs in New
York City to solve their differences without violence. In Puerto
Rico, her network of community service centers, the Centros Isolina
Ferre, have transformed ravaged neighborhoods by helping residents
to advocate for themselves. Her passionate fight against poverty,
violence and despair have earned her many awards and countless
tributes from all around the world. Sister Isolina once said that
a community grows only when it rediscovers itself. On behalf of
the many communities you have helped to make that wonderful discovery,
a grateful nation says thank you to you today.
If hearing these life stories doesn't make us all prouder to
be Americans, I don't know what would. I thank these people, for
the lives they have lived and the light they have shined.
Thank you very much.
N.B. Ferre is the fourth Puerto Rican
to receive the award. The others are former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis
Munoz Marin, a founder of the Popular Democratic Party; Antonia
Pantojas, founder of Aspira, an agency known for helping Hispanic
youth; and Ferre's brother, former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis A. Ferre,
founder of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.