Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield Presenting of the Truman Award for Exceptional Moral Courage in Public Service to Representative Jamie Raskin

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Washington, DC
June 2, 2023


Let me thank President Ben-Yehuda for that reintroduction. I was honored last year to receive this prestigious award, at the time from Mayor Bowser. It really was a true honor. It is now my great honor to pass the baton of the Truman Award for Exceptional Moral Courage in Public Service to Representative Jamie Raskin.

Representative Raskin has one of the most remarkable careers in public service in this country’s history. For more than 25 years, he served as a constitutional law professor at American University. There, he taught some of our nation’s brightest minds the nitty-gritty details of the highest laws of our land. He also co-founded the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which now boasts 20 chapters around the country, all working with high school students to teach them about their constitutional rights. And he served as state senator in Maryland for a decade, where he took on issues of statewide importance, from the death penalty to the fight to legalize same-sex marriage.

Representative Raskin was elected to Congress in 2016, and his meteoric rise afterwards was born not from ambition, but from a deep sense of service. Then personal and political trauma collided. Jamie lost his remarkable 25-year-old son Tommy to depression. The day after Tommy’s burial, January 6th, 2021, Jamie was in the Capitol with one of his daughters and his son-in-law when the insurrectionists attacked. The title of Raskin’s book on the subject sums it up in one word: “Unthinkable.” And yet Raskin was armed with Tommy’s last words, his specific instructions to look after each other, the animals, and the global poor. And that is exactly what the congressman has done.

In fact, he has been one of our country’s most prominent and powerful defenders of democracy and all the good it does in the world. As the lead impeachment manager for the Senate trial of President Trump, Raskin brought together a sober, compelling, and dutiful case. He took the time to lay out the facts, and not only ensured the public knew exactly what happened but gave us the gift of the truth so that we could process and heal.

For his brave efforts to stand up for the Constitution and everything we hold dear, the New Yorker declared him Person of the Year. Representative Raskin has continued that work on the United States House Select Committee on the January 6th attack, bringing his deep constitutional expertise to bear on the role of far-right extremists in inciting the coup on our Capitol.

As if this were not enough, last year Jamie was diagnosed with lymphoma. We would have understood if he had said enough was enough, that he had served his country well, and that he needed to focus on healing. But Jamie kept serving. After the chemotherapy took his hair, he kept showing up asking questions, holding investigations, writing legislation, and serving his constituents – all in his fashionable bandanas. He has one on today. And we were all relieved and grateful when last month, he rang the bell and announced the cancer was in remission. Let’s give him a hand of applause. (Applause.)

Last year, during my own acceptance speech for this award, I said that the greatest challenges inspire the greatest courage. I can think of no one who has faced greater challenges or who has inspired greater courage than Jamie Raskin.

Jamie, I admire you so much. You are bravery in human form, and it is truly a privilege to present you with this award. (Applause.)