Mr. Vice President,
Members of the United States Congress, and distinguished guests,
I am deeply touched by the honor bestowed on my small but proud West African Republic of Liberia and on myself by inviting me to address this body of representatives of the people of the great United States of America.
By this invitation, you have paid one of the greatest tributes there is to all those who laid down their lives for my country to be free and democratic. I can only say a big thank you.
The people of Liberia and the people of the United States are bound together by history and by values. We share a deep and abiding belief in the power of freedom, of faith, and of finding virtue in work for the common good.
The national motto of Liberia, founded, as you know, by freed American slaves, is: "The love of liberty brought us here." We became the first independent republic in Africa. Our capital, Monrovia, is named for your President, James Monroe. Our flag is a star in a blue field and red and white stripes. Its one star makes us the "lone star state" in Africa. Our constitution and our laws were based upon yours.
The U.S. dollar was long our legal tender and still is used alongside the Liberian dollar today.
But our ties greatly exceed the historical connection. I stand before you today as the first woman elected to lead an African nation, thanks to the grace of almighty God; thanks to the courage of the Liberian people, who chose their future over fear; thanks to the people of West Africa and of Africa generally, who continued to give hope to my people. Thanks also to President Bush whose strong resolve and public condemnation and appropriate action forced a tyrant into exile; and thanks to you, the Members of this august body, who spurred the international effort that brought blessed peace to our nation.