Aung San Suu Kyi

Congressional Gold Medal Acceptance Address

delivered 19 September 2012. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

This is one of the most moving days of my life -- to be here, in a House, undivided, a House joined together to welcome a stranger from a distant land.

Yet, I do not feel myself to be a stranger,

support of the United States Congress for the democratic aspirations of my people. From the depths of my heart, I thank you, the people of America, and you, their representatives, for keeping us in your hearts and minds during the dark years when freedom and justice seemed beyond our reach.

So many of you have done so much to uphold our cause that it would take me more than one afternoon to recite all the names of those whom I hold dear in appreciation and gratitude.

However, I would like to mention the name of one man, who I so wish could have been with us today: Tom Lantos. I am sorry I have arrived too late to be able to meet him, to be able to take his hand and to say, "Thank you, for what you did for us; thank you, for being the man you are." I never had the chance to meet him, but I shall always remember him with warmth and gratitude.

I stand here now, strong in the knowledge that I am among friends who will be with use as we continue with our task of building a nation that offers peace and prosperity, and basic human rights protected by the rule of law to all who dwell within its realms. This task has been made possible by the reform measures instituted by President U Thein Sein. Our President, our very young but rapidly maturing legislature, and the vast majority of our people, are committed to democratic values that will enable us to fulfill our potential and to take our rightful place in the modern world.

I am particularly encouraged by the presence of minister U Aung Min, who has been leading peace talks in our country, and whose presence reinforces my faith in the future of reform and reconciliation.

There will be difficulties in the way ahead -- There will be difficulties in the way ahead, but I am confident that we shall be able to over all -- overcome all obstacles with the help and support of our friends.

The ties of friendship and understanding that have developed between you, the representatives of the most powerful democracy in the world -- lovers of democracy in Burma -- compensates for much of the trials we had to suffer over the past decades. These ties will be strengthened as we work together to achieve are common goals.

How privileged I am to be with you here today. But there are many who are not enjoying this privilege yet. And these are the people we need to remember -- not just those in my country, but everywhere else in the world where freedom is yet a dream.

I believe I speak not just for myself but for many of my colleagues and for my people when I say: May today be an augury of many days and years of hope and joy to come for the peoples of the United States and Burma and other peoples the world over who are united in the desire for harmony, security, and liberty. 

It has always been my opinion that democracy offers the best balance between freedom and security for all of us. To be a whole human being, we need both security and freedom. Without security, we cannot rest in the peace necessary to discover the world to be the beautiful place that it can be. Without freedom, also, we will be deprived of the many opportunities that would make us more human and more humane.

For this reason, I've always adhered to the principles and values of democracy. No doubt, it is not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect -- perfect system invented by we human beings who are so riddled with imperfection. And yet, in spite of the imperfections, democracies -- democracy still remains a beacon of hope for all of us. We have been united, we from many parts of the world, by our belief, by our confidence in democracy.

As I go forward with my countrymen and women along the difficult path of building a truly democratic society, where all our people can live together in peace -- remembering always that Burma is a nation of many ethnic nationalities and peoples -- we believe that we can go forward in unity and in peace, and give our friends the satisfaction of helping us to get to a place where all peoples wish to get to, a place where dreams are realized.

Thank you.


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