Like everyone, I have many dreams.But, in truth, I will tell you that I never dared to dream that one day I would speak at a ceremony such as this.
What began many years ago as an idea and then as a personal experience for Bud and me, and set of beliefs, and grew to a collection of friends, and friends of friends, and then took on the trappings of an organization and staff, and spread from one country to another and another, has today, 20 years later, produced a monument erected halfway around the world in the most populous nation on earth.
I hear the thoughts we shared and the words we have spoken countless times echo back through the similar but unique experiences of thousands upon thousands of American and Chinese lives.This monument bears name after name of people I know, my friends, my co-workers, "my" volunteers.
It is a staggering and humble experience for me, as I know it is for Bud as well.
But just as standing before this monument today is a unique memory I will never, ever forget, this monument also represents thousands upon thousands of extraordinary personal experiences for the GlobalVolunteers and for the Chinese people whose lives they have touched.In much the same way, each life was so exposed to an idea, then an experience, which led to an altered set of beliefs, and finally a life changing experience on which increased understanding was realized and upon which future attitudes and decisions would be based.
I do not know if this marker will someday represent the turning point in the course of two powerful nations on earth.I simply do not know.Is this a new thought I dare not dream?
What I do know is that the 1100 Americans whose names are engraved on this monument, were united by their desire to step out of their comfortable and familiar lives, and seek a greater understanding of the people of China.Each and every one carried with them the hope that in some small way, through their volunteer efforts, they would increase friendship and understanding between our two nations and in so doing make this world just a little safer for ourselves and our future generations.
An Wei and members of the Sino American Society, thank you for this monument.Thank you for this tribute to the volunteers who made this journey to China to serve and to learn from you.Thank you for creating a memorial that will remind all who visit of what has been achieved, and what remains to be done.Thank you for your understanding.Thank you for your friendship.