Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
President George W. Bush is thanked by Reverend
Danny Cortes after speaking at the National Hispanic
Prayer Breakfast at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium
in Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 16, 2005.
(White House photo by Eric Draper)
June 16, 2005 - 8:28 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Gracias, y siéntese.
(Laughter.) Thank you for the warm welcome. It's an honor
to be here at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. Thanks
for inviting me back. I understand this, like you understand
this: America is founded on los valores de fe y familia.
(Applause.) These are the values at the heart of the Hispanic
American community. These are the values that enrich our
nation. And I am grateful.
Your good works and reverence bring compassion
to our country, and more importantly, honor to the Almighty.
This morning we come together to pray, to pray for God's
help as we serve our fellow citizens. Danny, thank you very
much for the invitation and the introduction. I'm proud
to be with a lot of the faith leaders from around our country.
I saw my friend Luis Cortés. It's good to see you
again, Luis. I want to thank John von Seggern, who is the
Chairman of the Prayer Breakfast.
I want to thank the members of the Congress
who are here -- Nancy Pelosi, Chris Cannon, Hilda Solis,
Rahm Emanuel, Luis Fortuno. I want to thank you all for
serving our country, and thank you for setting aside politics
to come and honor the Almighty through prayer.
It's good to see my old buddy, former member
of the Cabinet, Ridge. Tom Ridge is with us. Good to see
Hector Barreto. He runs the SBA. Go ahead and pray, and
then get back to work. (Applause.) It's good to see Don
Powell, Gaddi -- who runs the FDIC, by the way -- Gaddi
Vasquez is the Director of the Peace Corps.
And finally, I want to pay homage to the
First Lady of Panama. I want to welcome you here, Madam
First Lady. Thank you for coming. (Applause.) We're really
glad you're here. Your husband is kind of like me; we both
married well. (Laughter.)
We come from many faiths. In America, every
religion is welcome. That's the great thing about our country:
every faith is important. In America, people of faith have
no corner on compassion, but people of faith need compassion
to be true to the call to "Ame al projimo como
a sí mismo," love your neighbor like you'd
like to be loved yourself. That's a universal call.
For Hispanic Americans, a love of neighbor
is more than a gospel command -- it's a way of life. We
see the love of neighbor in the strong commitment of Hispanic
Americans to family and the culture of life. For Hispanic
Americans, families are a source of joy and the foundation
of a hopeful society. We're working to support and defend
the sanctity of marriage and to ensure that the most vulnerable
Americans are welcomed in life and protected in love. (Applause.)
We see the love of neighbor in the tireless
efforts of Hispanic American faith-based and community organizations
that work daily to bring hope to harsh places. In Boston,
the León de Judá Congregation mentors inner-city
teens so they have a chance to realize the great dreams
of America. In St. Louis, Acción Social Comunitaria
helps immigrants and their children adapt to American life.
In the archdiocese of Miami, Catholic Charities ministers
to people with HIV/AIDS; inner-city Philadelphia, Cortés
runs a fantastic program to help lift the spirits of every
single child. (Applause.)
Many in the Hispanic community understand
that by serving the least of -- nuestros hermanos y hermanas
-- that we're serving a cause greater than ourselves. And
by doing so, we're helping all citizens have an opportunity
to realize their dreams here in America.
Finally, we see the love of neighbor in
tens of thousands of Hispanics who serve America and the
cause of freedom. One of these was an immigrant from Mexico
named Rafael Peralta. The day after Rafael got his green
card, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Think about that.
While serving in Iraq, this good sergeant wrote a letter
to his younger brother. He said, "Be proud of being
an American. Our father came to this country, became a citizen
because it was the right place for our family to be."
Shortly after writing that letter, Sergeant Peralta used
his own body to cover a grenade an enemy soldier had rolled
into a roomful of Marines.
This prayer breakfast, we remember the sacrifices
of honorable and good folks like Sergeant Peralta, who have
shown their love of neighbor by giving their life for freedom.
Hispanic Americans answer the call to service
willingly, because you understand that freedom is a divine
gift that carries with it serious responsibilities. And
as you go about the work of repairing broken lives and bringing
love into the pockets of hopelessness and despair, be strong,
because you're sustained by prayer. Through prayer -- (applause.)
One of the most powerful aspects of being
the President is to know that millions of people pray for
me and Laura. People that I'll never have a chance -- (applause.)
Think about a country where millions of people of all faiths,
people whom I'll never have a chance to look face-to-face
with and say, thank you, take time to pray. It really is
the strength of America, isn't it? Through prayer we ask
that our hearts be aligned with God's. Through prayer we
ask that we may be given the strength to do what's right
and to help those in need.
I want to thank you for the fine tradition
you continue here today. This is an important tradition
to continue right here in the heart of the nation's capital.
I want to thank you for what you do for our nation. Que
dios les bendiga, and may God continue to bless our
country. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 8:36 A.M. EDT