Good evening, it seems like just yesterday that we were at our first convention, where my husband accepted the Republican nomination and then became our 45th president of the United States. He had the energy and enthusiasm for who should lead this nation. It's real today as it was four years ago. I know I speak for my husband and the entire family when I say we have not forgotten the incredible people who were willing to take a chance on the businessman who has never worked in politics. We know it was you who elected him to be commander in chief. And we know it is you who will carry us through again. We were humbled by the incredible support then and we are still grateful today.
I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically. The invisible enemy, COVID-19, swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us. My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone. My husband's administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine available to everyone. Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic. I want to extend my gratitude to all of the health care professionals, front line workers and teachers who stepped up in these difficult times. Despite the risk to yourselves and your own families, you put our country first and my husband and I are grateful. I have been moved by the way Americans have come together in such an unfamiliar and often frightening situation. It is in times like this that we will look back and tell our grandchildren that through kindness and compassion, strength and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future. Businesses stepped up, and volunteers stepped in. People were eager to share ideas, resources, and support of all kinds with neighbors and strangers alike.
It has been inspiring to see what the people of our great nation will do for one another, especially when we are at our most fragile. Speaking of strength and determination, we recently celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. Yesterday, on the north lawn of the White House, we unveiled an exhibit dedicated to women's suffrage. The exhibit called on children from across the country to send art honoring the meaning of this important time in women's history. When I was judging the entries, I reflected on the impact of women's voices in our nation's story, and how proud I would be to cast my vote again for Donald this November. We must make sure that women are heard and that the American dream continues to thrive.
Growing up as a young child in Slovenia, which was under communist rule at the time, I always heard about an amazing place called America — a land that stood for freedom and opportunity. As I grew older it became my goal to move to the United States and follow my dream of working in the fashion industry. My parents worked very hard to ensure our family could not only leave and prosper in America, but also contribute to a nation that allows for people to arrive with a dream and make it reality. I want to take the moment to thank my mother and father for all that they have done for our family. It is because of you that I am standing here today.
I arrived in the United States when I was 26 years old. Living and working in the land of opportunity was a dream come true, but I wanted more. I wanted to be a citizen. After 10 years of paperwork and patience, I studied for the test in 2006 and became an American citizen.
It is still one of the proudest moments in my life, because with hard work and determination I was able to achieve my own American dream. As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here and to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that we have. As first lady, I have been fortunate to see the American dream come true over and over again. I have met many inspiring women, children, parents, and families who have overcome life-changing issues that include addiction, homelessness, family members who are ill or have passed away, abuse of all kinds and many other challenges that would make most people give up. The past three and a half years have been unforgettable. There are no words to describe how honored, humbled and fortunate I am to serve our nation as your first lady.
After many of the experiences I've had, I don't know if I can fully explain how many people I take home with me in my heart each day. From brave soldiers who give up so much so that we can be free to children of all circumstances, who I have met around the world. Thank you for inspiring me. It is my greatest honor to serve you. When I speak to members of the military, despite sacrificing time with their families, experiencing the fear of war or suffering loss, they have no regrets about serving our country. The same goes for their families and the families of first responders, who often watch their loved ones walk out the door, not sure if or when they will come home. When I speak to families who have lost someone, the pain mixed with pride I hear in their voices is something I think about often. So thank you to all who serve our country in the military and as first responders. And thank you to the families who wait for them, you are all heroes in your own right. I have also been moved by the many children and families I have spent time with at hospitals, schools and other locations around the world. Children who are dealing with pain or illness that would break even the strongest adult. Parents who are grateful to wake up every day and see that their child is still alive. These families are a testament to what faith and medicine, strength and science can do.
On my first international trip as first lady, my husband and I visited places of great significance to the three major religions. Islam, Christianity and Judaism, one special memory from the trip is of a young boy. I had the privilege of visiting him while at Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, Italy. While there I read the little boy a story and learned that he and his family had been waiting for a heart for a very long time and he had a grim prognosis. His situation brought my staff and me to tears and we spoke of little else as we flew to Belgium for the next part of our trip. Upon landing just a few hours later, we learned that a heart had been donated and would be going to the little one. I think about him often. Along with so many amazing and strong young patients across our own country. More profound and sadly unavoidable examples of our country's strength and character have occurred in the communities that have been impacted by natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding must show the ugly side of mother nature but in their aftermath, they can show us a beautiful side of humanity. My husband and I have visited many places that have been affected by natural disasters and we are deeply moved by the strength of the people who have lost everything and the kindness of neighbors and communities. The common thread in all of these challenging situations is the unwavering resolve to help one another.
I recognize the stories I just told about people who survive extraordinary circumstances. But Donald and I are also inspired by the millions of Americans who wake up each day with a simple yet courageous goal of providing for their families and keeping them safe. You are the backbone of this country. You are the people who continue to make the United States of America what it is, and who have the incredible responsibility of preparing our future generations to leave everything even better than they found it.
Just as you are fighting for your families, my husband, our family, and the people in this administration are here fighting for you. No matter the amount of negative or false media headlines or attacks from the other side, Donald Trump has not and will not lose focus on you. He loves this country and he knows how to get things done. As you have learned over the past five years, he is not a traditional politician. He doesn't just speak words. He demands action and he gets results. The future of our country has always been very important to him, and it is something that I have always admired.
In fact, it is to help ensure a better future for our next generation that I launched Be Best -- my initiative to help children achieve their fullest potential. Be Best has one simple goal: teaching youth about the importance of their well-being, both mentally and physically. This also includes understanding online safety and the dangers of opioid and drug abuse. Through Be Best, my office and I have been able to highlight people and organizations that are doing extraordinary things in our country and around the world. I continue to believe that by shining a light on these positive examples others across the country will be inspired to do their part or our next generation. Helping children is not a political goal; it is our moral imperative.
When I think back to a defining moment of Be Best, my mind goes to a trip I took to Africa. On that vast and beautiful continent, I was able to visit the countries of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. One of those visits in particular had a profound impact on me. Ghana, on the coast of West Africa, was the first stop on my trip and I experienced first-hand its warm people and their traditions. While there, I visited the Cape Coast Castle and learned more about the beginning of a cruel, and often deadly, journey in the era of the slave trade. I was horrified when I listened to the guides tell me so many inhumane stories and I gained new perspectives. This time in our history, we must never forget so that we can ensure that it never happens again.
Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country. It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history. I encourage people to focus on our future while still learning from our past. We must remember that today we are all one community comprised of many races, religions and ethnicities. Our diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong, and yet we still have so much to learn from one another.
With that in mind, I'd like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives. I urge people to come together in a civil manner, so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice, and never make assumptions based on the color of a person's skin. Instead of tearing things down, let's reflect on our mistakes. Be proud of our evolution and look to our way forward. Every day let us remember that we are one nation under God, and we need to cherish one another.
My husband's administration has worked to try and affect change when it comes to issues around race and religion in this country. He is the first president to address a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to call upon countries across the world to end religious persecution and honor the right of every person to worship as they choose. He has made substantial investments in our historically black colleges and universities. This president also continues to fight for school choice, giving parents more options to help their children flourish. My husband knows how to make a real change. From the day that I met him, he has only wanted to make this country the best it can be.
For many years, I watched him grow concerned and frustrated, and I'm so proud to see the many things he has done in such a short time. America is in his heart. So, while at times, we only see the worst of people in politics on the evening news, let's remember how we come together in the most difficult times. And while debate rages on about issues of race, let's focus on the strides we have made and work together for a better tomorrow for everyone.
Our administration has also devoted historic resources and produced life-saving results by raising awareness around opioid addiction and drug abuse, especially for children. When so often the headlines are filled with gossip, I want to take this moment to encourage the media to focus even more on the nation's drug crisis. This disease is one that affects everybody. It pays no attention to race, age, or socioeconomic status. Addiction has touched every part of our society in some way. And now, more than ever, we have programs and medicine to combat it. We just need to talk about it openly, and you the media have the platforms to make that happen. To the media industry and as a country I ask that we all commit to helping in our fight against drug addiction by talking about even more. Especially as we battle the Covid pandemic we need to remember that suicides are on the rise as people who are struggling with loneliness and addiction feel they have nowhere to turn. Parents, please talk to your children. Teachers and caregivers pay attention to signs of addiction. Lawmakers, pass legislation that allows those who ask for help to do so safely and without fear and to provide resources for organizations that help people impacted by addiction. When the stigma is removed, people will no longer be ashamed to ask for help and lives will be saved. And if you are struggling with addiction, there is no shame in your illness. Please seek help, you are worth it.
In my next four years as first lady, I will continue to build upon "Be Best" and work with individual states to back legislation to take care of our most vulnerable. I plan to continue the work I have started with children in foster care. As well as the minority community and tribal nations. I want to ensure children are protected and communities have the resources needed to combat drug addiction and child neglect or abuse. Like my husband and the administration, I will continue to encourage education that supports a child's individual needs.
It is vital that children are given the building blocks to succeed. I also look forward to continue my work to restore the people's house, which is a lasting symbol of pride for our nation. I believe this iconic home needs to be care for and preserved so it can be enjoyed by the people of this country and visitors from around the world for years to come. I am passionate about this beautiful house, the grounds and all they represent.
And now, I have a special message for the mothers of this country. This modern world is moving so fast, and our children face challenges that seem to change every few months. Just like me, I know many of you watch how mean and manipulative social media can be. And just like me I'm sure many of you are looking for answers, how to talk to your children about the downside of technology and their relationships with their peers.
Like every parent in this country, I feel there is so many lessons to teach our son and the responsibilities as his mother but there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I remind myself that I am more fortunate than most and still have days that I look for wisdom and strength to do the very best I can for him. I am more fortunate than most and still have days that I look for wisdom and strength to do the very best I can for him. To mothers and parents everywhere you are warriors. In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families. I see how hard he works day and night. And despite the unprecedented attacks from the media and opposition he will not give up. In fact, if you tell him it cannot be done, he just works harder.
Donald is a husband who supports me in all that I do. He has built an administration with an unprecedented number of women in leadership roles and has fostered an environment where the American people are always the priority. He welcomes different points of view and encourages thinking outside of the box. I know I speak for my husband and the family when I say we are so grateful that you have trusted him to be your president. We will be honored to serve this incredible country for four more years.
As you have heard this evening, I do not want to use this precious time attacking the other side because as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further. I am here because we need my husband to be our president and commander in chief for four more years. He is what is best for our country. We all know Donald Trump makes no secrets about how he feels about things. Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president, whether you like it or not, you always know what he is thinking. And that is because he is an authentic person who loves this country and its people and wants to continue to make it better. Donald wants to keep your family safe; he wants to help your family succeed. He wants nothing more than for this country to prosper and he doesn't waste time playing politics.
Almost four years ago, we went into election day completely underestimated. Despite what is being said again this year, I know, just as you do that Americans will go to the polls and vote on the behalf of their families, our economy, our national security and our children's futures. To vote for those ideals, is not a partisan vote, it is a common-sense vote. Because those are goals and hopes that we all believe in. I believe that we need my husband's leadership now more than ever in order to bring us back once again to the greatest economy and the strongest country ever known. God bless you all, your families, and God bless the United States of America.
Trump, M. [C-SPAN]. (2020, August 25). First Lady Melania Trump full remarks at the 2020 Republican National Convention [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xEGvUSJqeg]. Retrieved on October 10, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/user/CSPAN.