George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Presenting the 2007 National Medals of Science and Technology and Innovation

September 29, 2008

Please be seated. Thanks. Welcome. This is a joyous day for the White House as we honor some of our Nation's most gifted and visionary men and women. I congratulate you all on your achievements. I'm looking forward to presenting you with the National Medals of Science and Technology and Innovation. And I welcome your friends, but most importantly, I welcome your family members. We are glad you're here, and thank you for standing by these— by the side of these pioneers and doers and achievers.

I want to thank members of the administration who've joined us, particularly Deputy Secretary John Sullivan; Dr. Arden Bement, Director of the National Science Foundation. I welcome the chairs and members of the 2007 and 2008 nominating committees. These recipients welcome you as well. [Laughter] They appreciate your good judgment. [Laughter] And I welcome the previous medal recipients who are here. But most of all, thank you all for coming.

You know, it's very interesting that we're having this in the East Room. It turns out that Thomas Jefferson reportedly used this room as a place to lay out his fossils. [Laughter] Three hundred fossils and bones were catalogued right here in the East Room, including a tusk of nearly 10 feet. Barney has been looking for that tusk for a long time. [Laughter]

Anyway, our history is rich with pioneers and innovators who have used their God-given talents to improve our Nation. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who invented the bifocals, and you will see his picture hanging here in the White House—or Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone.

Creative men and women are building on the foundation laid by those geniuses, and the same thing is going to happen in the future with the foundation laid by these geniuses. I mean, after all, Franklin's bifocals are giving way to LASIK surgery— [laughter]—and Alexander Graham Bell's telephone plays MP3s. [Laughter]

We're proud to honor a new generation of people who have strived for excellence, people whose discoveries have changed America and the world. And that's what we're here to honor: discovery and hard work and creative minds.

The men and women we honor here hold more than 100 patents. They are the leaders in business and industry. They public—publish influential books. They chair academic departments in some of our country's finest universities. Our honorees have made breakthroughs in the range of—in a range of fields, including polymer chemistry, neurobiology, condensed matter physics—all a little esoteric for a history major, I might add. [Laughter]

Each of our honorees has extended the frontiers of knowledge, and in so doing, they've inspired a wave of innovation. We're an innovative society, and one of the main reasons why is we got very capable people who are willing to use their talents to push for new innovations. The work has helped inspire new medicines to treat diseases, strengthen security in Americans' airports, build new jet engines. They have helped create a global marketplace through a single phrase: "Find it on eBay." [Laughter]

Each of these folks up here has earned the appreciation of our country. And one way to express our appreciation is to present a medal, and that's what we're doing.

I do want to thank the members of our academic community for helping youngsters understand the importance of math and science and engineering. Today we've got students from Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Banneker Academic High Schools. And I know that some of the recipients here took time out to inspire, and I hope scientists and mathematicians and engineers all across the country will serve as mentors and role models to encourage young folks to take a serious interest in academics— in the academic of engineering and physics and sciences and biology so that someday another American President will be able to hang a medal around their neck.

All in all, this is an important day for our country, because it reminds people that innovation and science are important for our future and that good education is important for that future as well. I want to thank you all again for your many contributions to our Nation. I want to thank you all for coming to witness this important ceremony.

And now I ask the military aide to read the citations.

[At this point, Maj. Curtis Buzzard, USA, Army Aide to the President, read the citations, and the President presented the medals.]

NOTE: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Presenting the 2007 National Medals of Science and Technology and Innovation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives