Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Young American Medals for Bravery and Service
Attorney General Meese, Director Sessions, distinguished guests: Welcome to the White House. We're here today to honor some very special young Americans: the winners of the 1985 and 1986 Young American Medals for Bravery and Service.
few years ago, it was fashionable in the media and the universities to say that
land of freedom was built, and is still being built, by men and women who,
without chroniclers, without heralds, have brought a warrior's courage to the
challenges of everyday life.
Today we honor six young Americans who have shown the physical, moral, or intellectual courage, yes, the selflessness and concern for others that we call heroism. I thought I'd tell you something about each one of them.
mentioned moral courage -- taking a stand out of the ordinary because that's
what you believe is right. Linda Warsaw has that kind of courage. When Linda
was 11, she began volunteering with her mother at the San Bernardino County
Victim-Witness Advocacy Program. Files that passed through her hands were like
a window for her into the criminal justice system. Soon she was attending
trials. Much of what she saw -- child abuse cases, criminals going unpunished
-- she didn't like. She conceived of an anticrime organization that would be
run by and for children. Started 2 years ago when Linda was 13, Kids Against Crime now teaches hundreds of children and adults in
courage -- that's also why Carla Swanson has been asked here today. Carla
organized the Just Say No club at her high school in
Rafael Guerra-Torres has another kind of courage -- intellectual courage -- the
courage to pursue a new idea, to think in new ways, not to be bound by
conventional wisdom. Angel developed, as a science fair project, an experiment
to demonstrate how the growth of a type of cancer cell could be inhibited by
broccoli. This experiment won him first place in the medical health category of
the 37th International Science and Engineering Fair. Angel's prizes include an
invitation to represent Puerto Rican youth at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in
Linda and Angel are the winners of the 1986 Young American Medal for Service. Carla is the winner of the 1985 Medal. Linda, Angel, Carla, congratulations!
Three of those with us today have displayed great personal courage. At moments when life and death hung in the balance, they were ready to risk their lives that others might live.
Just over a year ago, Denise Shattuck and four friends were driving home from a field hockey game when their car hit a tree. Denise was thrown from the car and hurt her head. The car's driver was alive but trapped behind the wheel with a smashed hip, and the car was on fire. Denise ignored her own injuries, ran back to the burning car, pulled the driver out through a broken window, and dragged and carried her to safety.
In March of 1986, Kimberlee Rush, then 17, was babysitting for two toddlers when a truck with a 20-ton load lost its brakes, sped downhill, and crashed into the house she was in. As the floor collapsed beneath the truck, gas lines ruptured, and a huge hole was left between the room Kimberlee had been in and the room the children were in. Kimberlee could have left the house. Instead, she crawled into the hole, through the gas fumes, and back up to the frightened children. Then she broke through a window to lead them out of the house.
Finally, on a February night 2 years ago, Mindy Clark was in bed when she heard her two-year-old brother, Justin, crying as he climbed the stairs. As Mindy got out of bed, she noticed the floor was hot. The house was on fire. Mindy gathered Justin, her other brother, and sister together. After a struggle, she opened her window and led them out onto the plastic porch roof, only to realize that Justin hadn't followed. Back into the heat and smoke of the burning house Mindy went and finally found Justin hiding in fear under her own bed. She carried him out to the roof, which was beginning to melt, and led her brothers and sister to safety.
Kimberlee and Denise are the winners of the 1986 Young American Medal for Bravery. Mindy is the winner of the 1985 Medal. You are young women of extraordinary courage, and it's an honor to have you here today at the White House.
heard talk from some in the press who ought to know better that this is the
``me'' age: everyone out to get his or hers. These young people and others like
them are my reply to those commentators. There is a heart in
Thank you, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the