Remarks delivered by U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft at the Gordie Howe International Bridge Groundbreaking
July 17, 2018
Thank you Governor. Thank you Minister. Thank you Michigan and thank you Canada.
You know, Gordie Howe in his day could have literally helped build this bridge. As a youth, he would work with his father at construction sites doing what they called “throwing concrete.” This built him into a very strong teenager, standing at a strapping 6 foot, 200lb at fifteen. This experience in construction must have had something to do with the power with which he delivered his legendary slapshot.
And as a girl who grew up on a farm in Glasgow, Kentucky, whose friends still are having a hard time getting their heads around my current position which I hold, I can relate to Gordie Howe in so many ways. I love when he said:
“I’m really just a lucky old farm boy. I remember when I came up I cut out all the newspaper pictures showing me in a Red Wing uniform just to prove to everyone that I played in the NHL.”
Some days, I am tempted to cut out the clips and send them back home too. Then again, some days, not so much!
But today is not just about an iconic Canadian hockey player, it’s also about a momentous Canada/U.S. border crossing. Some may find it paradoxical that a Trump Ambassador is here to break ground for a bridge, rather than, say maybe a wall. But the world is full of contradictions. Here’s what the former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin said about Gordie:
“To me, Gordie is a contradiction. I think anybody that followed his career knew that he was a fierce competitor and he was a tough hockey player. And yet he was a very gentle, kind soul off the ice. You just loved to be around him, he always had a twinkle in his eye, loved to chat and catch up. He was a pleasure to be around as a friend.”
I want to pay tribute to all of the hard work and dedication for generations that have made today possible. In particular, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge one of my predecessors, Ambassador Jim Blanchard. Jim, we are all here because of your vision and Jim’s stubbornness! Thank you for that!
Like the Canada/U.S. relationship, which has its ups and downs, I have personally adopted the Gordie Howe philosophy of life. He famously said:
“You have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a 100% effort that you gave – win or lose.”
“You’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap, or the soreness, or all the aches and pains and continue to play for a long, long time.”
We ambassadors, past and present, love what we do. Not because it’s easy, but because it matters.
Just as Gordie holds the record for the most games and the most seasons played, I know this bridge will break all kinds of records for the most commerce and prosperity of any border crossing in the world.
You have all given 100%, and as Gordie says, knowing that – you can’t lose. May your work bear fruit for a long, long time.
Thank you. And thanks again to Michigan and Canada.