WASHINGTON D.C. – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today delivered the following remarks at a reception celebrating Congressman John Lewis receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom:
"Thank you. It is a privilege and an honor to play a role in honoring Congressman John Lewis: A true American hero.
"Words like freedom, liberty and justice are a staple of modern political discourse. They describe the very highest ideals of our nation, and we hear them so often that they can easily be taken for granted. But liberty and justice for all in America came at a steep sacrifice. It came after valiant Civil Rights leaders like John Lewis endured intimidation and raw violence to expose the ugly nature of segregation.
"The brilliance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis was the way in which they aroused the conscience of our nation – the way they were able to spur Americans to live up to their highest principles. They changed America not through the force of arms but through the power of their ideas. In a world that today finds itself in a state of flux, their example can be an excellent catalyst for change.
"John Lewis played an instrumental role in fighting the discrimination that he was born into, and today, as a Member of Congress, he continues his lifelong mission to strengthen our nation and help its people. For me, John Lewis remains so important to Congress and to America for this reason: because when we live and work among heroes, it inspires the rest of us to make courageous decisions. It encourages us to stand on principle and to treat our fellow man with dignity and respect.
"I congratulate John on being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award. I can’t think of a single person more deserving of this honor."