RTAaward

The following remarks were delivered last night at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC upon reception of the Young Conservatives Coalition’s annual Buckley Award .

Thank you. I am honored to be named a 2013 Buckley Award winner. In the two minutes I have tonight, I’d like to acknowledge three groups of people:

1. Young people. I’m grateful to the many young people who nominated and selected me. It’s a sign that this next generation hasn’t given up on marriage. And as I’ve lectured on a couple dozen college campuses in the past year—places like Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Amherst, NYU and BYU, CUA and UVA—almost always at the invitation of a young student, not an old faculty member, I’ve come to the conclusion that the argument for marriage hasn’t been heard and rejected, it simply hasn’t been heard. And it’s our job to make it, not give up on youth.

2. Great colleagues. Few things are better in life than doing important work with good colleagues. I’ve been fortunate to spend the past year at two great institutions: The Witherspoon Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Any good that I have accomplished in the past year is because of them.

My co-authors, Sherif Girgis and Robby George, and my  Public Discourse  managing editors, Gabby Speach and Serena Sigillito, are godsends.

Anything you’ve read by me that you thought well-written is due to the work of Heritage’s editor, Ken McIntyre. Any good media appearance is the result of coaching from Jackie Anderson and Beverly Hallberg. I shudder to think how  Piers Morgan  would have gone if not for their work.

In what was frequently a stressful and depressing year, the job of keeping my spirits up and my ego in-check fell to Sarah Torre, Rachel Sheffield, Bethany Davis, Les Ford, and Brittany Corona. Thank you. And, of course, as anyone who knows her will readily admit, I have the best boss in DC: Jennifer Marshall.

3. Finally, a word about my family—my mom and dad and one brother are with us tonight.

None of my grandparents graduated from high school. My mom tells me that her parents, Sicilian immigrants, never even attended high school. My mom wasn’t fortunate enough to go to college, and my dad earned his degree at night school. Together, they successfully raised five sons: a college professor, an assistant US attorney, a bank controller in Baltimore, and a Swiss banker in Geneva. I’m the under-achiever in the family.

My family’s story is remarkable for being entirely unremarkable. It’s the story of so many American families—it’s the story of the American dream. Before I knew the philosophical arguments or social science statistics, I experienced it firsthand.

I experienced the great benefits that come from a married mom and dad. It helps explain the work I’ve done in the past year. Let me add that one week from today we’ll celebrate my parents’ forty-ninth wedding anniversary.

The work that I’ve been fortunate to do, defending the first freedoms of life and religious liberty, and promoting marriage and a conservative vision of social justice, is simply a debt being repaid on the gifts that I’ve received: gifts of life and faith, a married mother and father, and the opportunity to do meaningful work.

No award is necessary for simply doing one’s duty, but I am grateful for this Buckley Award all the same. Thank you.

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