The Second Lady's Remarks at the Salvation Army Dallas Metroplex Annual Fall Luncheon in Dallas, Texas
Well, Jim, thank you for that really special introduction. One of the things that made our years in Dallas so special was getting to know you and Debbie, and so many other good friends here. I want to acknowledge the good works done by the people here at this head table. Particularly, I want to acknowledge Major Jeffries and Mrs. Jeffries, Major Mockabee and Mrs. Mockabee. You do wonderful work. Ray Nixon, thank you for your leadership. And Shelly, thanks for putting this lunch together. It's just terrific.
Well, as I think back on that introduction, I'm going to have to take that along with me. You know, people don't always know exactly how to introduce the wife of the Vice President of the United States and I get some pretty strange introductions, like "Mrs. Vice President." That's topped, though, by how I heard Tipper Gore say she had been once introduced. She had been introduced as the "First Lady of Vice." So you can never be sure how it's going to turn out and that one turned out pretty well.
That's the problem isn't it? There is not a title. There's the Second Lady of the United States, but that seems sort of odd, especially when you hear the acronym. The President is POTUS, President of the United States. That sounds powerful. The First Lady is FLOTUS, First Lady of the United States. That sounds graceful. The Vice President is VPOTUS. I'm SLOTUS. So I avoid that one, too.
What title should I have? I have three granddaughters and a grandson. But a few years ago, my granddaughter Elizabeth, who was four at the time, went to California with her mom to visit the other grandparents. And I have to tell you, one of the great disillusioning experiences of life is realizing that there is another set of grandparents. You have to share. But, in any case, they had gone to California to visit the other set of grandparents. And my daughter was driving the children across the Oakland Bay Bridge, which is quite a formidable bridge. And she remembered that when she had been little, I had driven her and her sister across the same bridge and I had run out of gas. Well, she knew the four-year-old would enjoy this story because what do kids like more than hearing about the incompetence of adults? So she told her about how I had run out of gas on the Oakland Bay Bridge and the four-year-old was fascinated, loved the story, but was confused because she is visiting her other grandmother in California. And she said to her mother, "You mean Grandma Julie?" And my daughter said, "No, Grandma Lynne," which was still odd because she's never called me Grandma Lynne. And my daughter says, you're looking at her little face and there was puzzlement. And then suddenly a light went off and my four-year-old granddaughter said, "You mean the Grandma of the United States!" So that is absolutely impossible to beat when it comes to a title.
Well, it is just a special pleasure to be here in Dallas where Dick and I spent five very happy years. I love driving through the streets and seeing the familiar sights. I love the can-do spirit of this city. And I have loved, in the time since we left Dallas, the opportunity to get to know and to work beside a remarkable son and a wonderful daughter of Texas, President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.
We have been through some challenging times of late in our country, but as Mrs. Bush has observed, our President has broad shoulders. He is steadfast. He is determined. He is exactly the leader we need for these times. And if you will permit me to say so, the Vice President is no slouch either.
I'm not here today to talk about world events, but I think that wherever Americans gather together in this time, in this week, in these days, there are two world events I think should be noted, the first being the Iraqi people voting on their Constitution. As a student of history, and as a historian and teacher, I frequently point out that it took America twelve years from the time we declared our independence to the time we ratified our Constitution. The Iraqis have covered that ground in less than three years. It is a remarkable achievement, one for which Iraqis can be very proud, and one for which Americans, who have helped and sacrificed mightily, can be proud of as well.
The second event is the opening of the trial of Saddam Hussein, a man who killed hundreds of thousands of his countrymen in unimaginably brutal ways. His being brought before a court of law, before a court where there is due process, regard for evidence, and where the rule of law prevails, is a triumph of civilization over darkness. It is an affirmation for the world that brutality can be met with the rule of law. The Iraqi people and the American people can take great pride in that. And I know that all of you will join me here today in thanking the fine young men and women of America's armed forces who are making us more secure at home as they spread freedom in Iraq and around the world.
I can remember thinking when we lived here in Dallas that I had never known any place that was so civic-minded, so determined to make a place better, to make the town and the city better for everyone who lives here. And so it wasn't a great surprise to me to watch the way the city responded to Hurricane Katrina-opening up the Reunion Center for emergency housing, providing clothes, food, diapers, and all the other things families need, then raising millions of dollars to move those who had lost so much into more permanent housing, both here in Texas and elsewhere. When I read of what this state accomplished - taking care of the emergency needs of some 139,000 Louisianans, enrolling some 20,000 Louisiana children in Texas schools, taking Louisiana's college students into Texas colleges - it made me very proud to remember that I had a connection with this most amazing state.
And after Katrina came Rita, of course, and the exodus from Houston that I think has rightly been compared to the Berlin Airlift. And now Texans are rebuilding in Beaumont and Port Arthur, just as they rebuilt in Galveston at the turn of the 20th Century after the worst natural disaster in American history. Central to all these efforts, not only in Texas, but in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, wherever there has been trouble and woe, is the work of the Salvation Army.
When Dick and I toured the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Salvationists were among the first people we met. In Gulfport and Biloxi, the Salvation Army's officers and volunteers were there happy to greet visiting VIPs, but most of all focused on what they could do to help those who were suffering. Of all the things that impress me about the Salvation Army's work, maybe that is foremost-the absolute attention to the task at hand, to feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and providing guidance to lost souls. These are the things important to those who work in the Salvation Army. They, I'm sure, like all of us, are happy to have their efforts noted, but in my observation they do not work with the notice of this world in mind. It is faith that moves the Salvation Army today, as it has through this astonishing organization's long history.
The Salvation Army began in the bleak slums of Victorian England when William Booth and his wife Catherine began their work as evangelists among the poor, the hopeless, and the hungry. So great was their determination to save souls and help the desperate, so shining was their faith, that by 1867 they had 1,000 volunteers preaching and singing and saving. In 1878, William Booth, or General Booth as he was called by them, was reading an annual report of The Christian Mission-- that was the name of his organization at the time-and he saw this phrase: "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." And he crossed out the word "volunteer" and wrote in the word "salvation," and thus the Salvation Army was born. And those in the volunteer army became soldiers of Christ.
Their work was often hard. They were mocked and they were persecuted. But their numbers grew, and not just in England.
In 1879, Lieutenant Eliza Shirley held America's first Salvation Army meeting in Philadelphia and the United States proved most fertile ground for the Army's work.
In a book I recently published, A Time for Freedom, I included a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville, a young Frenchman who visited the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. And he said on his first arrival here, it was the religious aspect of our country that struck him most. The idea that God plays a role in our lives has been with Americans from the beginning. The pilgrims thanked God for bringing them across "the vast and furious ocean." The Puritans asked the Lord to make their colony "like a city on a hill" that could inspire the world. Revivals and awakenings spread across this country, bringing millions to faith, and in this land, where religion flourished, so too did the Salvation Army.
And there was another good reason that the Army was a good fit in America, and that was because of this country's tradition of helping and giving. Alexis de Tocqueville was also struck by that, by our tradition of always helping and giving, and not turning to government but turning to others to help. He was struck by that and he speculated that the freedom and self determination that we know account for our eagerness to work on behalf of our fellow citizens. Whatever the cause, the American habits of philanthropy and volunteerism are unparalleled in the world. People open up their pockets when they see their fellow Americans in need of help-they did it after 9/11 when we found ourselves and our great nation under attack. And they have done it after Katrina and Rita. I know that President George H. W. Bush and President Clinton have together raised more than $100 million. The total amount contributed to help those whose lives were devastated by recent hurricanes has exceeded $1.5 billion. People not only open up their pockets, they open up their homes. I've been touched time and again to read of people like Sue Sanford, a University Park mother of four, who opened her house to twenty members of the McCray family who had lost their home in New Orleans.
And so today the Salvation Army has spread all across the United States, and indeed, across the world. I know that all of you here are aware of what a fine organization this is, but let me hammer the point home with just a few statistics. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Salvation Army-and this was in early October-the Salvation Army has served more than 2.6 million meals and passed out 4 million sandwiches. Over 600,000 people have been served in over 40 states. And while it is during disasters that the work of the Salvation Army comes most to attention, its officers and volunteers are on the frontline every day caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, and befriending the friendless. One project here in Dallas that deserves special note is Project Tomorrow, which provides scholarships for low-income students to attend Tyler Street Christian Academy in South Dallas. Kids who would otherwise not have had the opportunity receive intellectual and spiritual training and opportunities to attend first-rate colleges and universities: Rice, Texas Tech, and the University of Texas.
I want to thank the Salvation Army for all the good work of this organization. And I want to thank everyone here for helping the officers and volunteers of the Salvation Army with their mission. And I particularly want to thank the organizers of this luncheon for giving me the time and giving me the opportunity to spend time here in Dallas, a place I love very much.
Lynne Cheney, The Second Lady's Remarks at the Salvation Army Dallas Metroplex Annual Fall Luncheon in Dallas, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/282533