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Governor Pete Wilson's Tribute to Tom Brokaw

Los Angeles Public Library Awards Dinner
Tom Brokaw -- The Greatest Generation
May 27, 2009

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of the Library and guests. Thanks to the Library Foundation and the Dinner Committee, I have the rare privilege tonight, to say a few words about a friend of more than 40 years whom I greatly admire, and to whom I am profoundly grateful, both personally and in my capacity as Chairman of America’s National World War II Museum. The Museum has been designated by Congress as the nation’s official World War II Museum. No one has been a more constant, generous and dedicated friend and supporter of the National World War II Museum than Tom Brokaw.

The journalistic profession has conferred its highest honors upon Tom. But as important as his distinguished professional career achievements have been, Tom Brokaw has been even more important to America by providing us a perspective that rouses us from self-absorption to self-awareness.

Tom’s magnificent book celebrating the courage and character of America’s “Greatest Generation” cured a national breach of gratitude owed for more than half a century to the young Americans who fought and won that terrible war. Even more important, in telling their individual stories of extraordinary courage, performance and sacrifice, he produced a chronicle that demands the attention and the response of our own and future generations who owe our freedom and an incalculable debt of gratitude to those who purchased it for us with their blood and their lives. We dare not ignore that debt, nor what is required of us to repay it, and to secure the precious gift of freedom for the next generation.

In asking Tom to accept this award, we acknowledge our debt and our duty to repay it. We begin to make the vital commitment he has summoned us to make to keep faith with the Greatest Generation.

Too many of them have left us already.

By thanking him, we begin to thank them for all we owe them.

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