Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr.
National Science Foundation
2008 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation Awards
October 6, 2009
Good evening. To our distinguished Laureates, to their families and friends, and to all gathered here tonight, it is my pleasure to welcome you to a splendid evening to celebrate the achievements of U.S. scientists, engineers, mathematicians and innovators.
To the Laureates, I know that the pride and appreciation that I express tonight are but echoes of the admiration and gratitude that your families, friends and colleagues feel for your stellar achievements.
Next year, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the creation by Congress of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. But this year, we have the happy task of marking the 50th anniversary of the passage by Congress and the signing by President Eisenhower of Public Law 86-209 that established the National Medal of Science.
The two Medals celebrate the heritage of American discovery, invention and innovation that traces back at least to Benjamin Franklin, a Philadelphia printer who, some 250 years ago, discovered the dual charges of electricity, developed the lightning rod, mapped the Gulf Stream, founded a university, and helped launch a nation.
This year's Laureates will join such giants of science as Harold Urey and Barbara McClintock; BF Skinner and Kurt Gödel; James Van Allen and George Housner.
Yet, as we celebrate our past, we also affirm that America has always been about the future.
Tonight we acknowledge not only the heritage that you received and have carried on, but even more so, we celebrate the legacy that you bestow to coming generations of explorers, discoverers, inventors and innovators.
You are renowned for creating new knowledge, but you are also admired for pioneering the new fields of the unknown that you have opened up for others to explore.
For nowhere is it more true than in the broad fields of science and innovation, to say, as we look at our latest achievements, "And yet, we are not done-- we have just begun."
As before, when you were becoming leaders in your fields, and especially now as Laureates, we look forward to your continued contributions and leadership. And even more, we look forward to hearing your voices affirming that science and innovation are key endeavors in defining what it means to be human.
For whether scientist or engineer, mathematician or innovator, we share common aspirations:
To go and to explore and to find out;
to probe and to prove;
to create and to doubt and to figure out;
to invent and to innovate; and
to put the minds and the hands of humanity to work in creating a better world for all.