George W. Bush photo

Remarks Honoring the United States Nobel Laureates

November 27, 2001

Ambassador, thank you very much. Welcome. Dr. Marburger, thanks for putting this on. We're so honored that so many great Americans have shown up today. Laura and I are thrilled to not only greet you but host a reception after this brief dialog.

I want to welcome all the Nobel laureates, past and present. I want to thank Members of the Congress for being here. I want to thank members of my Cabinet for coming. And I am grateful that family and friends have joined such a distinguished crowd.

As the Ambassador said, for a century now the Nobel Prize has recognized human striving and accomplishment. Since 1901 more than 700 Nobel Prizes have been awarded, and a third of those to Americans.

Standing with me are seven of those who have been selected this year. Among their achievements are pathbreaking discoveries in physics, helpful insights in the workings of the market economies, and a new treatment for Parkinson's disease. And all of America congratulates them.

Each Nobel laureate here today belongs to a incredibly select group of people. It includes the names of Martin Luther King, Jr.; George C. Marshall; T.S. Eliot; Albert Einstein; Vice President Charles Dawes; and President Theodore Roosevelt, the first American Nobel laureate, whose Peace Prize today occupies a place of honor in the West Wing of the White House.

Tomorrow I'll meet with the newest recipient of that prize, Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Several other Nobel laureates have visited the White House this year: Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Shimon Peres.

These folks come from different regions of the world, but the Nobel Foundation is never limited by region or culture. The standard is a universal one. It is awarded to men and women who have served the highest aspirations of humanity and have done so with success. Many awards recognize excellence; the Nobel Foundation recognizes greatness.

So much of human progress depends on achievements in medicine, physics, chemistry, economics, literature, and peace. The annual selection of the laureates expresses a profound optimism about humanity and our prospects for improvement. This optimism was captured by William Faulkner, when accepting his Nobel Prize a half century ago. "I believe," he said, "that man will not merely endure; he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone amongst creatures has an inexhaustible voice but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion, sacrifice, and endurance."

Each of you, in your own field of excellence, has carried forward that same belief in human progress. You've achieved greatness through service to others. You have been given great gifts, and you've used them to your fullest.

Our Nation is proud of the work each of you have done. We're proud to count you as fellow citizens. We thank you for bringing credit to our country and great benefit to mankind.

And now, Laura and I would like to invite you all into the foyer for a reception.

God bless.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Jan Eliasson; John H. Marburger III, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy; 2001 Nobel laureates Eric A. Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle, and Carl E. Wieman (Physics), William S. Knowles (Chemistry), Leland H. Hartwell (Physiology or Medicine), George A. Akerlof, A. Michael Spence, and Joseph E. Stiglitz (Economic Sciences), and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (Peace); former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, 1993 Nobel Peace laureate; and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel, 1994 Nobel Peace laureate. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Honoring the United States Nobel Laureates Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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