have contributed greatly to the United States and should
continue to take advantage of the opportunities the country
has to offer, according to U.S. Attorney General Alberto
Mid-September marks the beginning of Hispanic
Heritage Month in the United States, an occasion that Gonzales
celebrated September 13 at The National Hispanic Foundation
for the Arts' Noche de Gala.
"Hispanics have contributed greatly
to the fabric of this nation; therefore, a celebration of
our heritage is a celebration of America," he said.
As Hispanics celebrate their heritage, the
attorney general urged them to continue to make good use
of their many opportunities in the United States and to
endeavor to help others.
Hispanics, he said, should "do everything
we can to ensure those same opportunities are available
to others ... let this celebration be a catalyst for success
in our community."
Following is the text of Gonzales' remarks,
as prepared for delivery:
PREPARED REMARKS OF
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES
AT THE NATIONAL HISPANIC FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
"NOCHE DE GALA"
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2005
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It's a pleasure for me to be back with you
on behalf of President Bush for this annual celebration.
Three years ago, I had the privilege of addressing you in
my role as Counsel to the President.
In the time that's passed, I had the honor
of beginning a new job as Attorney General of the United
States. But Jimmy Smits is in close competition. He's gone
from a beat cop to a potential nominee for President of
the United States.
Jimmy's fictional successes on the West
Wing -- and his real successes as an actor - are both great
signs for Hispanics in our Nation. Of course, so are the
real successes of countless other Hispanic entertainers
such as Sonia Braga and Esai Morales, and those of some
of my colleagues in the Bush Administration, including Commerce
Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto,
U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral and Deputy Assistant to the President
I say these names out loud with pride because
I want the American people, particularly Hispanic children,
to hear as well as to see that no matter their background
or heritage, they too can be successful actors and entertainers,
that one day they too can be a Cabinet Secretary or a presidential
One day in the not too distant future, there
will be a Hispanic Secretary of State and a Hispanic Secretary
of Defense charged with our Nation's protection. One day
there will be a Hispanic deciding cases on the U.S. Supreme
Court. And one day there will be a Hispanic leading this
country as our President.
It is inevitable that these events will
come to pass. It will happen not because the Hispanic community
is entitled so, but because qualified individuals will have
earned these positions of trust with the tremendous help
of many others.
Every time a Hispanic child sees Mel Martinez
or Richard Carmona make a decision on the national stage
or watches Edward James Olmos or Jennifer Lopez perform
in the movies, then the notion that they, too, could be
a U.S. Senator, the Surgeon General of the United States,
or a Hollywood actor does not seem so impossible to them.
When I last spoke to you three years ago,
I lamented the paucity of positive Hispanic characters appearing
on movie screens and television sets. There has been some
progress in the intervening years, but not enough.
I know that you are working hard on this
challenge, and I hope that we will continue to improve the
opportunities available to talented Hispanic actors and
actresses. I'd like to especially thank Jimmy Smits, Sonia
Braga, Esai Morales, and Felix Sanchez for their efforts
on behalf of the entire National Hispanic Foundation for
But while we might have to wait a few more
months to find out if Jimmy's television character will
move into the West Wing, we cannot waste a single moment
in providing positive role models for the Hispanic youth
The American dream can quickly become a
nightmare -- especially when it appears that the only options
are gang membership or violent crime. That's why role models,
such as Elizabeth Vargas and Eva Longoria, are so important.
Whether it is a conversation with a parent, the mentoring
of an influential adult, or the example of a television
star or movie character, we need role models to counteract
the fear and false choices surrounding young Hispanics today.
I'm sure that one young man here tonight
would agree -- and not just because he's a fellow Texan.
Edward Valdez made the choice to avoid gangs in favor of
an education. He's getting that and more as a midshipman
at the U.S. Naval Academy. He's one of the future leaders
of our Nation and we need more people to have the strength
of character -- and the positive influences -- that Edward
relied upon to get him where he is today.
By the way, Edward is easy to spot tonight
-- he's the best-dressed person at my dinner table!
As we gather tonight for this celebration,
it's important to remember that the hard work of recovery
continues along the Gulf Coast. I know that the thoughts
and prayers of everyone here continue to be with all those
affected and displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
It is comforting to know that our Nation
comes together in times of crisis. In this most recent tragedy,
help has come in all forms and from all corners of the country.
In moments of unity such as these, many
say that Americans forget their differences and focus on
the commonalities of our shared experience. This is true,
but I also believe that we should remember that those differences
-- our diversity -- make this country great. Our differences
have as much to do with the content of our Nation's character
as do the similarities of the American experience.
And so it is appropriate that we gather
across our country -- especially during this trying month
of September -- to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage
Hispanics have contributed greatly to the
fabric of this Nation; therefore, a celebration of our heritage
is a celebration of America.
Our beloved America is the greatest country
in the world. We must not take her for granted. There is
a reason that millions of people -- many of them of Hispanic
origin -- risk their lives to fulfill the dream of coming
The story of America is a story of constant
renewal and reaffirmation of our founding ideals and our
enduring values -- of faith, family, and freedom. These
are values that demand the best of every American.
Whether you are a new citizen that just
took the oath to protect and defend the Constitution, or
you are a citizen who tracks her roots back to the first
wave of immigrants to come to this New World, we must all
treasure the opportunities that abound in this promised
This is the fundamental underpinning of
Hispanic Heritage Month: a commitment to respect, to treasure,
and to take advantage of the opportunities in our great
country. In addition, it's a commitment to do everything
we can to ensure those same opportunities are available
That's why Hispanic Heritage Month is a
good time not only for reflection, but also for action.
Whether it's helping those in need in New Orleans, or sharing
the inspiration of your work with a future Hispanic leader,
let this celebration be a catalyst for success in our community.
I urge you to continue carrying the pride
associated with this month of special commemoration, into
your work every day as a steward of the hope and opportunity
with which every Hispanic American has been blessed.
On behalf of the President, my thanks again
to the work of the National Hispanic Foundation for the
Arts. May God bless it members, may He guide your decisions,
and may He continue to bless the United States of America.