Throughout my life, Christmas has always held special meaning. I was raised in a family and a church that taught me, very early on, the true reason for the season. I have many memories of joining together with family members and loved ones, taking time to celebrate the birth of Christ, and to celebrate the love that we all share. In my home church in Biscoe, we would gather for Christmas Eve services and hear the story of the Nativity. Being with my family and hearing the story of Christ's birth helped instill in me the values I hold dear to me this very day. Christmas is about family and friends, and understanding the joy that comes from learning to give and take care of others. It is important that we do all we can to embrace the spirit of the holidays and remember that even during these tough economic times, we remain rich in our faith in humankind and love, the very reason for this season.
I was asked last year to recall my favorite Christmas memory. I easily chose Christmas Eve of 1968, an evening I'm sure many may remember. Televisions across the nation were tuned in to watch Apollo 8, with three brave Americans on board becoming the first humans to leave Earth's orbit and orbit the moon. As my family and I huddled close to the television, I remember the sheer amazement. To see the astonished look on the faces of my mother and father, having seen so much in their lives, only helped me understand the magnitude of this accomplishment. My brother and I may not have seen much yet in our lives, but we understood what we were witnessing that night. We watched the grainy black and white image closely, and heard the radio transmissions from the crew. As they ventured around the farthest side of the moon, the crew joined together and read from the book of Genesis, telling the story of the creation of heaven and earth while we all watched along with the rest of the world with wonder and hope.
Time and time again, our nation has a history of coming together when we need it the most. To think back on that year of 1968 as a whole, and to know that this one event on the eve of Christmas brought almost each and every family together to witness a feat so great and on display to the entire world, is a true testament to just how powerful the American Dream can be. Our hard work and ingenuity took what would otherwise seem to be a completely impossible idea, and made it happen. Whether its space exploration, or getting our country back to work, I remain convinced that we accomplish more by coming together to work on finding a solution and solving any problems that may arise.
We cannot forego a solution to any of the problems our nation may face, especially not in the name of partisanship. No one single group or political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and this holiday season serves as a constant reminder to me of the power of the American people when we come together and all that we can achieve. My memory of that Christmas night remains dear to me. You and I know that much is accomplished when people are brought together, and I remain hopeful that the folks in Washington will embrace that very same principle when our work continues after the holidays. I assure you that my optimism and hope for civility will remain with me in the 112th Congress.
It seems fitting that in one of our final actions of the 111th Congress this week, the House marked final passage of the much needed COMPETES Act. This legislation works to promote science and innovation, reassert our economic and technological leadership throughout the world, and give future generations greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream. This bill was especially important to me given the attention it pays to revitalizing and innovating domestic manufacturing, and I was glad folks on both sides of the aisle were able to come together to support it. I am a firm believer in the quality and pride found in products made in America, and I will continue to do all I can to make sure that we remain ahead of the curve and on the forefront of any and all global opportunities. Over the last century, our nation has led the way in technical innovation, with everything from the automobile assembly line to the personal computer. We simply cannot let China or India invent, build and then sell us the technology that will power the next century. We can do it here, and we can do it better. I believe that is the most important thing that the American people hold in their hearts--pride. I was proud to see this instance of our country coming together to embrace American ingenuity for the good of our nation, and to encourage and promote job growth when we need it the most. We must never forget that there is nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what is right with America.
I hope the optimism of the Christmas of 1968 can be rekindled as we look toward the challenges we face. I know better days are ahead for our great nation. God bless and Merry Christmas from my family to yours.