Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, receives the Congressional Gold Medal from Speaker of the House John Boehner, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.
Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi received the highest congressional honor in Washington last night — the Congressional Gold Medal. Members of Congress praised Suu Kyi's leadership and called her a "heroine," reports NBC News. Suu Kyi was actually awarded the medal in 2008, but was not able to travel to the U.S. to receive the award until this year.
She then visited American Unversity this morning to receive an honorary doctorate degree.
"When I see here people from Burma who have arrived over the years, I'm reminded that it is a great American tradition that they offer refuge to those who wish to live in peace with their own conscience," Suu Kyi said to a crowd of more than 1,000 Burmese gathered at AU's Bender Arena. "People who would have been prisoners of conscience in their own country can come here and be free."
She knelt at the feet of two dozen buddhist monks before the crowd, who had come to see the woman who, for two decades, stood tall against Burma's ruling generals.
In the crowd were children and adults who were children when the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate was first placed under house arrest.
"We look up to her and we think that she's the rightful leader for our country," said one 12-year-old Burmese girl from North Carolina, who had traveled from North Carolina to see Suu Kyi. "And just having a chance to see her in real life is really exciting ... she is a hero."
"She is my hero," said another attendee, a Burmese woman who now lives in Falls Church. "And that's why I came over here... to listen to how she would motivate the whole Burmese community, and how she would deliver her speech."
Another gentlement acknowledged that when he was younger, he didn't think much about the impact Suu Kyi was having. "But now, after learning about her past and what she's been trying to do for the country, I'm all hers," she said.
Suu Kyi aked the oversees Burmese community to play an active role in helping Burma rebuild its economy and continue its path towards a full deomcracy.