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To the bishop and first lady and the new sama's family. To the Cummings family. Maya? As president, Madam Secretary, Madam Speaker. Governor, friends, colleagues, staff. The seeds on good solid. The parable of the sower tells us. Stands for those with a noble and good heart. Who hear the word. Retaining. And by. Persevering produce a crop. The seed on good sorry. Elijah Cummings came from good soil. And in this sturdy frame, goodness took root.
His parents were sharecroppers. From the south. They picked tobacco and strawberries and then sought something better. In this city. South Baltimore. Robert, work shifts at a plant and roof cleaned other people's homes. They became parents of seven. Preachers to a small flock. I remember I had the pleasure of meeting Eliza's mother, Ruth, and she told me she prayed for me every day. And I knew it was true and I felt better for it.
Sometimes people say they're praying for you and you don't know. They might be praying about you. But you don't know if they're praying for you. But I knew this route was telling the truth. So they were the proverbial salt of the earth. And they passed on that strength. And that. Grit. But also that kindness and that faith to their son. As a boy, Eliza's dad made him shine his shoes and tie his tie. And they'd go to the airport.
Not to board their planes, but to watch others do it. I remember Eliza telling me this story. Robert would say I have not flied. I may not fly. But you will fly one day. We can't afford it right now, but you will fly. As grandmother, as Eliza related and as grandmothers do, was little more impatient with her advice. Your daddy. She said he'd been waiting and waiting and waiting for a better day. Don't you wait?
And Eliza did not wait. Against all odds, Litsa. Earn his degrees, he learned about the rights that all people in this country are supposed to possess. With little help, apparently from Perry Mason, Alija became a lawyer to make sure that. Others had rights. And his people. Had their God given rights and from the statehouse to the House of Representatives. His commitment to justice and the rights of others would never, ever waver. Eliza's example.
The son of parents who rose from nothing. To carve out just a little something. A public servant who toiled to guarantee the least of us. Have the same opportunities that he had earned. A leader who once said he'd die for his people. Even as he lived every minute for. His life validates the things. We tell ourselves about what's possible in this country, not guarantee. But possible. The possibility that our destinies are not preordained. But rather, through our works and our dedication and our willingness to open our hearts to God's message of love for all people.
We can live a purposeful life. We can reap a bountiful harvest. But we are neither sentence to wither among the rocks nor assure to bounty. But we have the capacity, the chance. As individuals and as a nation to root ourselves. In good sort. Alija understood that. That's why I fought for justice. That's why he embraced. This beloved community of Baltimore. That's why he went on to fight for the rights and opportunities of forgotten people all across America, not just in his district.
He was never complacent. For he knew that without clarity of purpose and a steadfast faith. And the dogged determination demanded by our liberty. The promise of this nation can wither. Complacency. He knew, was not only corrosive for our collective lives, but for our individual lives. It's been remarked. The laser was a kind man. I tell my daughters. And I have to say, listening to Eliza's daughter speak. That got me choked up. I'm sure those of you have sons feel the same way, but there's something about daughters and their father.
And I was thinking I'd want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I'd also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there's nothing weak. About kindness and compassion. There's nothing weak about looking out for us. There's nothing, there's nothing. Week about being honorable. You're not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect. I was sitting here and I was just noticing. The honorable. Alija, it comes and you know, this is a.
Title. That we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office. Supposed to introduce them as honorable. But but Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected office. There's a difference. There's a difference if you were honorable and treated others honorably. Outside the limelight. On the side of a road. In a quiet moment, counseling. Somebody you work with. Letting your daughters know you love. You know, as president, I knew I could always count on Alija being honorable and doing the right thing.
And people have talked about his voice. There is something about his boys, it just made you feel better. You know, there's some people that have a deep baritone and a prophetic voice. And when it was good times and we achieved victories together, that boys and that laugh was a gift. But you needed it more during the tough times. When the path ahead look crooked. Many obstacles abounded. When I entertained doubts. Or I saw those who were in the fight start to waver.
That's one Eliza's voice mattered most. And more than once during my presidency. When the economy still looked like it might plunge into a depression. When the health care bill was pronounced dead in Congress. I would watch Alija. Rally his colleagues. The cost of doing nothing is nothing. He would say. And folks would remember why they entered into public service. Our children are the living messengers we send to a future we will never see. He would say and he would remind all of us that our time is too short.
Not to fight for what's good and what is true and what is best in America. 200 years to 300 years from now, he would say people will look back at this moment and they will ask the question, what did you do? And hearing him, we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us. To give voice to the voices and comfort to the sick and opportunity to those not born to it. And to preserve and nurture. Our democracy.
Elijah Cummings. Was a man of noble and good heart. His parents. And his faith planted the seeds of hope. And loves. And compassion. And righteousness. And that good soil of his. He has harvested all the crop that he could. The Lord is now called Alija home to give his humble faithful servant Rhett's. And then now falls on us to continue his work. So that other young boys and girls in Baltimore. Across Maryland, across the United States and around the world might to have a chance to grow and to flourish.
That's how we will honor him. That's how we will remember him. That's what he would hope for. May God bless the memory of the very honorable. Elijah Cummings, and may God bless this city and this state and this nation that he loved. God bless. Thank you.