National Women's History Month Celebration


Good afternoon and welcome. I'm so pleased to see all of you today. And Andrea Roane, thank you for joining us. We are honored to have you here.

It has been said that "history is biography." If so, we can only understand the past and the history of our own time through the lives and stories of others. And those of us who do not know history are lost in our time. So, this month we reflect on the stories and accomplishments of women. These accomplishments may be silent and steady, such as the day-to-day care provided by mothers and wives. We can also find inspiration in the achievements of history makers like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher or our own Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In fact, it was Prime Minister Thatcher who suggested that a great woman is successful at several careers simultaneously, careers pursued within the family, at church, in the workplace, and in our communities. Women are history's great multi-taskers, able to get the most out of each day, every day.

I see many multi-taskers here with us today.

I think all of us think about our own mothers during this month. It is natural. Probably the first person we learn to admire is our mother. Mothers are amazing creatures, truly made by God to be part-guardian angel, part-confidant, and part-enforcer when our brothers and sisters get out of line. Mothers make everything happen effortlessly, as if by magic: meals, clean clothes, clean house, transportation to school, after-school activities, homework, family time, and then off to a restful sleep while she keeps on working. Like most mothers, my own was in constant motion, a whirlwind of activity. She was a library of information, a source of inspiration, and a universe full of love. For my brothers and sisters, she was our sun, our moon, and our sky full of stars.

For each of us, our mother becomes a role model, and then we add other role models as we read and learn and grow. We notice the nurse who cares for her patients. We discover that one of the neighbors is a businesswoman who provides jobs for hundreds of people. And we see the teacher who opens up a world to knowledge.

And then we learn more, our eyes open wider to see more. For example, we learn about a woman named Mother Hale, who took in AIDS babies in Harlem. We read of another woman, named Mother Teresa, who called the poor and hungry in Calcutta her brothers and sisters. We watch Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice represent the American people in discussions with world leaders. We listen to the music of Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. We find entertainment in the acting skills of Halle Berry or Angela Bassett. We turn to journalists like Katie Couric or Andrea Roane for news about the events of the day.

And we discover the great women who populated the past, like Florence Nightingale, the advocate for nursing; Susan B. Anthony, who fought for the right of women to vote; or Sojourner Truth, who was a powerful voice for civil rights in America.

We have some good role models with us today: Jackie (Roundtree), Carlotta (Bryant), Kathy (Bowie), Gwen (Jackson), Rita (Thomas), Barbara (Dorf), Michelle (Munro), and Gayela (Bynum). We honor these women today for their good work, their contributions to this department, and for their outstanding service.

Please join me in a round of applause for our colleagues.

I want to applaud the women who helped organize this event. A lot of work went into this month's activities. Congratulations on a job well done.

Please join me in applauding their good efforts.

Now, I am pleased to turn to our keynote speaker. But, before I do, I want to add that I am always honored to work with so many capable, professional, and hard working women in the department. HUD is a remarkable place. Every day I marvel at the many ways you help people around the country. I am proud to work with you. Thank you for your government service and your commitment to the American people.

And thank you again for inviting me to speak here today.


Content Archived: January 23, 2012