Tagged: Election 2012

WOMEN WHO ROCK: FEATURING EDIL DE LOS REYES

For our sixth installment, we are thrilled to feature Edil De Los Reyes, a rising star in the progressive community.  Her talents go way beyond her dedication towards social justice.  Training for a marathon and as a member of a performing arts group, she is always creating opportunities for growth.  We’re excited to highlight a young woman on the rise!


What was your first job in politics?

Field Organizer for California Democratic Party

Everyday you must….

Remind myself to take a moment and enjoy the present. In an environment that requires you to constantly be ready for the next moment, it’s important to self-love and self-care. Always ‘refill your glass’.

I never waste my time on…

Uncompromising, selfish people. There are 7.03 billion individuals on this planet. Find the ones who are down for the cause, and skip the ones who aren’t. You’ll be a happier person.

Something that I do that is Risky:

Snowboarding. Absolutely love the feeling of carving through fresh powder. Risky, but soothing.

I’ve always wanted to:

Open a performing arts studio for youth or a restaurant. Growing up I was surrounded by music and great food. It would be nice to give back to the community through performing arts education or a hearty, comforting meal.

***

We first met Edil when we were on a panel for the Women’s Information Network (WIN) and she’s a fierce advocate for our progressive values.  I’ll always want her on my side!

How else does Edil Rock it Out?

Born and raised by first-generation Filipino immigrants, Edil De Los Reyes is the Political Director of PAC+ and the Deputy Political Director of PowerPAC, a national advocacy organization that ran the country’s largest independent expenditure for then-Senator Obama in 2008. Currently PowerPAC is powering PAC+, a new national PAC focused on many donors, not mega donors. PAC+ is investing in six strategic states for 2012, looking to endorse and help elect Progressive Champions in areas impacted by the demographic revolution. Its goal is to democratize money and politics to give voice to America’s New Majority. 

Before joining PowerPAC, Edil ran the California Democratic Party 2008 campaign operations in San Bernardino County. In one of the country’s fastest growing counties, Edil developed civic engagement training plans, implemented new media strategies, and attracted and deployed a volunteer team of youth. Her work helped turn the county “blue” for the first time in modern history. A self-described data-geek, Edil works with PowerPAC’s Dr. Julie Martinez Ortega analyzing numbers about electoral patterns and trends and their interrelationship with the country’s demographic changes. 

Edil is a proud alumna of American University, holding a BA from the School of Public Affairs. Follow her on Twitter @mari_delosreyes.

WOMEN WHO ROCK: FEATURING SHEFALI RAZDAN DUGGAL

For our fifth installment, we are pleased to feature Shefali Razdan Duggal, a dynamic Democratic activist and fundraiser.  She is honestly one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet.  We’re so fortunate to have her be a part of this series!


What was your first job in politics?

After I completed my Masters in Political Rhetoric from New York University, shortly thereafter I began my career in politics when I joined the Massachusetts Democratic Party during Vice President Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign.  Although ultimately disappointed with the result of that Presidential campaign, I did find the entire moment to be an incredibly educational and exhilarating experience.  It was then when I established that I genuinely had a passion to work within, in some small way, our great political dynamic.

Everyday you must….

Do a prayer of gratitude for all the undeserved blessings placed within my life – -  from the past, the present and with God’s gracious hand…the future, as He sees fit.

I never waste my time on…

Disingenuous, shallow people or those project negative energy.  Life is such a blessing, and a gift which we are given is the free will to choose which energy we surround ourselves with, and this decision can and does diametrically change one’s life and perspective on all things.  I attempt, to the best of my ability, to emanate positive energy, and express myself in an authentic, productive way towards others.  And, I find that an important part of that process is both emanating affectionate light from within, and also keeping positive folks/energy within your external surrounding.

Something that I do that is Risky:

I very often (almost always!) speak/behave from my heart. My feeling is that what is important is the intent of one’s words/actions/emotions – - and, if the intent is positive and abundant with hopeful, empathetic energy, then one cannot control another’s response or reception to an individual’s words/actions.  Each person’s perception is somewhat coloured by their own experiences, and all I can control is my own good intent in my actions.  In my heart, I believe that my intentions are truly coming from a good place, and hopefully that is perceived in what I do and say, both in my life and within actions which concern others.

I’ve always wanted to:

Play the piano.  It has been a childhood dream of mine.  Due to various understandable reasons, we weren’t able to follow through on that hope when I was a child.  Although now, as so many parents do, I have presented that opportunity to my children, and thank goodness, they both enjoy piano!

***

Shefali is so committed to causes close to her heart and it’s reflected through her (constant!) positive energy.  She will always help a friend in need and is always doing what’s good for the community.

How else does Shefali Rock it Out?

She’s a member of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Partners, a member of the National Finance Committee (NFC) for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, a Co-Chair for Obama Victory Trustees (OVT) and a member of the Northern California Finance Committee for President Barack Obama. Shefali is a member of the Credentials Standing Committee for the 2012 Democratic National Convention and is an At-Large Delegate to the Convention from the State of California. She is also a member of the Democratic National Committee Asian American Leadership Council and the DNC National Steering Committee. Shefali is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman’s Council and a member of the Majority Council of Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing Democratic women to all levels of government. Shefali is a member of Human Rights Watch, California Committee North.

Previously, Shefali was active in Senator Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign where she was a Trustee for the DNC South Asian American Leadership Council. There she focused on South Asian and Young Professional outreach, co-hosting a number of fundraising events for both the Senator and his surrogates. She previously worked with Senator Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign where she was a member of the campaign’s Northern California Steering Committee and the Women for Hillary Committee. Shefali was also on the Finance Committee for the Kamala Harris for California Attorney General Campaign and was a member of her Transition Team. In addition, she was Executive Director of Indus Women Leaders, a national South Asian women’s organization, and is a graduate of Emerge, a political leadership training program for Democratic women. Shefali was also a Board Member of the Indian American Leadership Initiative, an organization focused on promoting South Asian political participation.

Shefali was born in India and has lived in Cincinnati, Chicago, New York and Boston. She received an M.A. in Political Communication from New York University and a B.S. in Mass Communication from Miami University of Ohio.

In the News

Dems Need to Pump It UP:

How does this forecast for the upcoming election? Enthusiasm is down so what does the Democratic Party need to do to increase voter participation?   http://www.gallup.com/poll/156194/Democratic-Voting-Enthusiasm-Down-Sharply-2004-2008.aspx

Voter ID Laws Can Affect Your Vote:

These new laws can most impact college students, minorities and the elderly.  Disenfranchisement is not part of the democratic “small d” process. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/voter-id-laws-scenarios_n_1699746.html

Latinos Can Make a Difference in 2012:

Getting people to the polls is a priority for the campaigns and the Latino constituency can make the difference.

http://www.newstaco.com/2012/07/25/can-latinos-turn-red-states-to-swing-states/

In the News

AAPIs in Nevada Favor Obama:

If the Obama campaign wants to win this targeted state, they need to talk to this very important constituency.  http://www.examiner.com/article/nevada-asian-americans-favor-obama

via Bert Eljera http://facebook.com/bert.eljera1

Women in the War Room:

The office layout might include a day care center.  Our female colleagues are changing  the industry everyday. http://www.campaignsandelections.com/magazine/us-edition/324842/women-in-the-war-room.thtml

via Shira Toeplitz @shiratoeplitz

Call to ACTION:

If you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, consider joining the AAPIs for Obama to register voters this Saturday, 7/28. For more details, https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gpds9y

via Naomi Tacuyan @aapidemocrats

Campaign 101 Tip #3 You mean….I really have to talk with people?

Did you know that a campaign is a communications model?  What does that really mean?  It means the campaign’s intent is to engage voters to have a conversation.  This ensuing conversation results in voters making the decision to vote for the campaign’s candidate.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  Guess what? If we didn’t live in a world where picking up the kids from day care and worrying about what to make for dinner weren’t part of the essentials for most people (because they’re normal & we’re weird), then the only thing that voters would be watching would be C-Span.  Breaking through the white noise or rather filters to get directly to voters is a matter of timing and issue relevancy.  If you’re talking about an issue that’s important to the voter, they’ll likely pay attention.

It’s important to realize that voters don’t think about politics in the same way that professional hacks do.   We (I’m including myself into the weird category) live/breathe/eat politics and consume headline news with a voracious appetite.  We know the poll numbers and have the debate schedule memorized.  Voters are certainly politically savvy but they need the candidate to frame the all important question, “Why you – why now” into a personal experience.  Knowing a voter’s motivation is about market research and directing a message that compels the voter to cast a ballot in favor of the candidate that best support that issue.

Technology has certainly made communicating with a mass audience that much easier, however it’s important to understand that personalized direct communication is still the best method to get a person’s attention.  Think about your own relationships.  Friends are developed over time.  A candidate is asking for your vote.  To reach that goal, they need to address issues that are important to an individual voter through direct voter contact with an established trusted source of information.  When you hear a testimonial from a friend about a product that they enjoy, you trust their opinion because you value it.  The same applies to the candidates voters choose.

Texting, tweets and email are extremely important components to any communications/outreach plan but it needs to be complement a robust voter-to-voter plan that allows for individuals to advocate for the candidate in a personal one to one fashion by talking about the issues in a deeper way.

It might seem ole’ fashioned but picking up the phone or seeing a person face to face really can make the difference.

So in the words of a revised version of Carly Rae Jepsen campaign styles, “here’s my number, call me, most definitely!”

Madalene Mielke

@madalenemielke

Campaign 101 Tip Number Two But It’s Actually a Whole Lot More!

Our last tip was about #winning.  How about the Rules of Engagement?  The American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC)’s 2012 Campaign Strategist of the Year and all around great guy,  Will Robinson (not to be confused w “Danger, danger Will Robinson!”) has a list of rules for any campaign staffer.  It not only applies to working on a campaign but also in so many parts of life.  Will is Yoda and I’m just a young grasshopper.  I know that I’m mixing characters from Star Wars and Kung Fu but that’s just a testament of Will’s ability to roll with those iconic figures.

Will Robinson’s List of Rules for Campaign Staffer

1. If it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist.

2. No such thing as “off the record.” (Reporters are not your friends!)

3. Do not hold a private conversation in a public place. (This includes cellular phones and planes!)

4. Don’t believe any number that ends in zero.

5. Never turn down an opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom. (Don’t eat anything that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.)

6. Don’t spend any of your own money. (Personal) Don’t even admit you own a credit card. Don’t spend money that is not yours. (Authorized)

7. Not always a “right” or “wrong” answer – “It depends”

8. In a campaign, someone has to be in charge – campaigns are a place to foster democracy, not practice it.

9. Assume nothing.

10. If you make a mistake, fix it before analyzing, etc. (Bad news doesn’t age well)

For more on Will Robinson and his firm, The New Media Firm check them out:

http://thenewmediafirm.com/ or @thenewmediafirm

You can also follow Will on twitter at @wrobin5626

– Madalene Mielke

@madalenemielke

Campaign 101 Tip Number One

Some people have become accustomed to campaigns looking like an episode of the “West Wing” but I worked in campaigns when I still had to use thermal paper for my fax machine and I didn’t have a cell phone but a pager.  People might have confused me for a dealer but at least, my parents might have mistaken me for a doctor.

With the onslaught of technology (i.e facebook, twitter, texting), people sometimes forget that campaigns are really about one on one contact.  Getting your network to discuss the topics of the day and having them compare candidates who can best form public policy.  Voting is a powerful instrument.  It takes “powerful” messengers and a well-organized campaign to convey why a candidate is best suited to represent a community’s needs.

Campaigns can be exciting and filled with drama but more often than not, it’s an organization trying to manage chaos around them.  All. The. Time.  Whether it’s internal or external forces that pull on the resources, campaigns are always about raising and spending those resources towards a common goal: Winning.  That magical number is 50% +1.

50% + 1 = #winning

Whatever goes down only equates to the phrase that Charlie Sheen made popular, #winning.  Campaigns are organizations that move people to vote for their candidates.  They only have 3 resources to do it all.  Can you name the resources?

Tell us about your 1st volunteer/paid campaign experience.  We want to know!

(GLAMOUR.COM) Latinas, You’re a BIG Deal

Election 2012: Latinas, You’re a BIG Deal…Especially In November, and Here’s Why
Lynda Lopez
Monday, 06/25/2012 5:35 PM

If the importance of the Latino vote in this year’s presidential election weren’t already clear, two major events last week made sure to drive that point home: first, President Obama announced that he would defer deportations for some, younger undocumented immigrants; then, just days later, both the President and Mitt Romney made sure to show up to address the largest gathering of Latinos in the country: the 29th Annual NALEO conference in Florida.

NALEO stands for the National Association of Latino Elected and appointed Officials, so both Governor Romney and President Obama didn’t miss the chance to be in a room of very influential Latinos and try to rally voters to their side.

The President’s immigration announcement last week left Mr. Romney–who has touted self-deportation for illegal immigrants, and said in Republican debates that Arizona’s harsh immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, should be a model for the nation–with some ground to make up with Latino Americans.

Hispanics wanted to hear from Romney about, among other things, whether he would leave Mr. Obama’s new policy in place, or if he would rescind it once he were in office. (Romney did address the subject, but with very few details, and no straight answer on the question). From President Obama, they wanted to hear if he would continue to support that issue, and others important to the Latino community. I was in the room during the President’s speech, and I clearly see that he enjoyed more support from the attendees than his opponent.  FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE, OR

Read More http://www.glamour.com/inspired/blogs/the-conversation/2012/06/election-2012-latinas-youre-a.html#ixzz1yqYhdEDU

PODER PAC 2012 CONFERENCE UPDATE JUNE 18TH AND JUNE 19TH

We have an exciting update about PODER PAC’s June 18 & 19th events!  NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen will be a featured speaker and Giselle Fernandez will serve as our Emcee for both the Kick Off Reception and Half Day conference.

LILY ESKELSEN

Lily Eskelsen, an elementary teacher from Utah, is Vice President of the National Education Association. She is one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most influential Hispanic educators.

President Obama recently appointed Lily to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, whose goal is to expand education opportunities and improve education outcomes for Hispanic students. She is one of 30 leaders from the education, labor, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors to serve on this national commission.

She began her career in education as a lunch worker in a school cafeteria. She became a kindergarten aide and was encouraged by the teacher to go to college and become a teacher herself. She worked her way through the University of Utah on scholarships, student loans, and as a starving folk singer, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology.

After teaching for only nine years, she was named Utah Teacher of the Year, using that title as a platform to speak out against the dismal funding of Utah schools. A year later she was elected president of the Utah Education Association. Lily was president of the Utah State Retirement System, only the second woman to ever be elected to the position; president of the Children at Risk Foundation; and was a member of the White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education.

GISELLE FERNANDEZ

Five-time Emmy award winning journalist, producer, film maker and Latin media marketing entrepreneur, Giselle Fernandez is the Managing Director of Creative World Talent Management, a division of the Trump Group, overseeing a diverse global media operation with special emphasis in Latin America and the U.S. Latin market.

Fernandez has made significant contributions to the CBS and NBC networks.  Among her numerous posts, Fernandez anchored NBC’s weekend edition of the “Today Show” and Sunday edition of the “NBC Nightly News.” She also handled special and foreign assignments for the NBC network.  Prior to that, Fernandez served at CBS News substituting for Paula Zhan on “CBS This Morning,” Dan Rather on the “CBS Evening News” and Connie Chung on the “CBS Weekend News”.

Additionally, Fernandez was a regular contributor to CBS “Sunday Morning,” “Face the Nation” and “48 Hours.”  Her on the spot coverage of international news stories from locations such as the Gulf War, the US Invasions of Haiti and Panama, the Somalia and Bosnian Wars, Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings, and interviews with global leaders like Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger, Presidents William Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Vice-President Albert Gore and U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, garnered this news veteran five Emmy Awards.

For more details, please see invite below or contact us at (202) 547-6656 or RSVP@poderpac.com.

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Asian American Heritage Month

May brings a variety of activities throughout the month.  One of them is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and to share with others how AAPIs have made contributions to society.

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) hosts an annual dinner to honor community and political leaders as well as to raise funds for their fellowship programs.  Navigare Co-Founder and Partner, Madalene Mielke was a panelist for the APAICS Leadership Academy as well as part of the logistics team for the annual dinner, which featured President Barack Obama as its keynote.

To view the President’s remarks, please click here.

You can also read the text:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
__________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                 May 8, 2012
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE 18TH ANNUAL GALA OF THE
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR CONGRESSIONAL STUDIES
Ritz Carlton
Washington, D.C.
5:46 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.
AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please, please, have a seat.  Have a seat.  You’re making me blush.  (Laughter.)  Mahalo!
AUDIENCE:  Mahalo!
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, Norm, for that kind introduction.  More importantly, thank you for your lifetime of distinguished service to our country.  I want to thank all the members of Congress who are with us — including two people who are fighting hard every day on behalf of every member of this community — Judy Chu and Mike Honda.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)
Now, I am thrilled to be here tonight because all of you hold a special place in my heart.  When I think about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I think about my family — my sister, Maya; my brother-in-law, Konrad who’s in the house somewhere — (applause.)  I don’t know where Konrad is.  My nieces Suhaila and Savita.  I think about all the folks I grew up with in Honolulu, as part of the — (applause) –
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Aloha!  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  As part of the Hawaiian ohana.  I think about the years I spent in Indonesia.  So for me, coming here feels a little bit like home.  This is a community that helped to make me who I am today.  It’s a community that helped make America the country that it is today.
So your heritage spans the world.  But what unites everyone is that in all of your families you have stories of perseverance that are uniquely American.  Some of you — those from Hawaii or the Pacific Islands — (applause) — live where your family has lived for generations and your story is, in part, about keeping alive treasured native traditions.  But for others, your story starts with ancestors who, at some point, left behind everything they knew to seek the promise of a new land.  Maybe the story traces back a century and a half, to the laborers who risked their lives to connect our coasts by rail.  Maybe it begins with one of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who, decades ago, made the tough journey to Angel Island.
Maybe the story starts with your parents.  Or maybe it starts with you.  But here’s the thing.  No matter when it began, no matter where it began, your stories are about someone who came here looking for new opportunities not merely for themselves, but for their children, and for their children’s children, and for all generations to come.
Few of them had money.  A lot of them didn’t have belongings.  But what they did have was an unshakeable belief that this country — of all countries — is a place where anybody can make it if they try.
Now, many of them faced hardship; many of them faced ridicule; many of them faced racism.  Many were treated as second-class citizens — as people who didn’t belong.  But they didn’t give up.  They didn’t make excuses.  They kept forging ahead.  They kept building up America.  They kept fighting for America — Like Danny Inouye, who’s here.  (Applause.)  Danny, who was my senator most of my life.  (Laughter.)  Love that man.
But they were trailblazers like Dalip Singh Saund — a young man from India who, in 1920, came to study agriculture, stayed to become a farmer, and took on the cause of citizenship for all people of South Asian descent.  (Applause.)   And once Dalip earned his own citizenship, he stepped up to serve the country he loved — and became the first Asian American elected to the Congress.  (Applause.)
They were pioneers like my former congresswoman, Patsy Mink, who was not only the first — (applause) — not only the first Asian American woman elected to Congress but the author of Title IX — which has changed the playing field for all of our girls.  (Applause.)
And then there’s the story of a young Japanese American boy, just 10 when his family was forced from their home and taken hundreds of miles away to an internment camp.  For three years, they lived in that camp, but when that boy got home, he didn’t turn his back on America — he devoted his life to America.  In his words, he pledged “to speak out for the underrepresented and to pick up on those issues that weren’t being carried by others.” And as the first Asian American to ever serve in a President’s Cabinet, Norm Mineta made good on that pledge.  (Applause.)
So think about how proud all those previous generations would be to see this room, to see how far this community has come.  Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders are now the inventors and entrepreneurs keeping our country on the cutting edge; the businessmen and women at the helm of some of our most successful industries; leaders in every aspect of American life — in science and medicine, in education, in sports, in the arts, in our Armed Forces; in our government and in our courts.  In fact, over the past three years, we have more than doubled the number of Asian Americans on the federal bench.  (Applause.)
Just yesterday, Jacqueline Nguyen became the first Asian American woman to get confirmed as a federal appellate judge.  (Applause.)  Where’s Jacqueline?  She’s here tonight.  There she is.  (Applause.)  You didn’t bring your robe, though.  (Laughter.)  That’s pretty cool.  (Laughter.)  And we’re so proud to have her along with another appellate judge I appointed, Denny Chin.  He’s here.  (Applause.)  Where’s Denny?  There he is, back there.  So we thank them for their service.
Whether your heritage stems from South Asia or East Asia, from my native Hawaii or the Pacific Islands, whether you’re first generation –
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Wahooo!
THE PRESIDENT:  These Hawaiians here — (laughter) — what’s up with that?  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  Wahooo!  (Laughter.)  Aloha!  (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT:  Whether you are first generation or the fifth, you’re helping to build a better America.
And I know it can be tempting — given the success that’s on display here tonight — for people to buy into the myth of the “model minority” and glance over the challenges that this community still faces.  But we have to remember there’s still educational disparities like higher dropout rates in certain groups, lower college enrollment rates in others.  There’s still economic disparities like higher rates of poverty and obstacles to employment.  There are health disparities like higher rates of diabetes and cancer and Hepatitis B.  Those who are new to America — many still face language barriers.  Others — like Vincent Chin who we lost three decades ago — have been victims of horrible hate crimes, driven by the kinds of ignorance and prejudice that are an affront to everything America stands for.
So those are real problems, and we can’t ignore them.  And if we’re going to do a better job addressing them, then we first have to stop grouping everybody just in one big category.  Dozens of different communities fall under the umbrella of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we have to respect that the experiences of immigrant groups are distinct and different.  And your concerns run the gamut.
That’s something that Washington needs to understand better. And that’s why I reestablished the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders –  (applause) — so that we could better identify specific issues within specific communities.  Many of those commissioners are here.  I want to thank them for the great job that they’re doing.  (Applause.)
And so we’re making a difference — on that front and on many other fronts.  When we stepped up support for America’s small businesses, we stepped up support for this community — providing over $7 billion in loans for small businesses owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  (Applause.)  When we passed health care reform, we put in place new mechanisms to get better data about health disparities.  (Applause.)  Because of that law, nearly 3 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are going to receive expanded and preventive coverage through private insurance and nearly 1 million are receiving free preventive services through Medicare.  (Applause.)
So some of the things that matter to this community are things that matter to every community, like making sure that a woman earns an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.  (Applause.)  Or ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that nobody has to hide who they love to serve the country they love.  (Applause.)  Or enacting education reform so that every child has access to good schools and higher education.  (Applause.)  Or caring for our veterans because it’s our duty to serve them as well as they have served us.  (Applause.)
That’s what this country is about.  That’s what we’ve always been about.  We’ve gone through some tough years because of this extraordinary recession and we’ve still got a long way to go.  But we will get there.  We will arrive at that destination where every child born in America regardless of race, creed, color, is going to have a chance.  We’re going to do that together — because in this country, we look out for each other.  We fight for each other.  If somebody is suffering through injustice or inequality, we take up their cause as if it was our own.  That’s the story of America.  And that’s certainly the story of this community.  (Applause.)
In the midst of World War II, when the son of Japanese immigrants, Gordon Hirabayashi, ignored the curfews and refused transfer to an internment camp; when he was jailed for his defiance; when he later appealed his conviction and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court — he understood that he was fighting for something larger than himself.  And he once said, “I never look at my case just as a Japanese American case.  It’s an American case, with principles that affect the fundamental human rights of all Americans.”  (Applause.)  And while Gordon is no longer with us, later this year I’ll award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian award America has to offer.  (Applause.)  Because he reminds us that each of us is only who we are today because somebody, somewhere, felt a sense of responsibility — not just to themselves, but to their family, and their communities, and to this country that we all love.
So tonight, we honor the trailblazers who came before.  But we also celebrate the leaders yet to come — all the young people who are here tonight.  (Applause.)  Together, it’s our turn to be responsible for the future.  It’s our turn to make sure the next generation has more opportunities than we did.  It’s our turn to make sure that no matter who you are, no matter where you came from, no matter what you look like, America forever remains the place where you can make it if you try.
Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)
                        END             6:00 P.M. EDT