Medal of Freedom Recipient Itzhak Perelman


Itzhak Perelman: This land
is full of immigrants. That’s how this
land is interesting. That’s how this land has —
it’s like a rainbow, and, you know, so it seems to me
that everything, you know, we should welcome, you know,
people can accomplish so many things, and you never
know where it’s coming from. You never know where it’s
coming from, from the south, from the north, from
the east, from the west. You don’t know whether it’s
coming from a country that has absolutely no idea or
tradition about classical music and all of a sudden,
one person comes in and it’s “Where did that come from?” you know, and you have
to take that chance, and it’s not going to happen
if you don’t have a mixture of people from all over
the world, you know, and that’s what, you know,
that’s what the United States is all about, as
far as I’m concerned. And the, you know, I’m one
— I’m just one example. Well, freedom, you know, in
my case it was a freedom to accomplish what I needed to
accomplish despite certain, you know, with, in my case,
disability of polio and so on and so forth, but I
suppose you can say I felt the freedom to say,
“Well, you know, my legs don’t work,
but my arms do, and my ears certainly
does, and my brain does, so why don’t I — you know,
I have to feel free to do whatever I want to do,” and
in my case, it was music. So, I suppose, in
this kind of a way, freedom is an appropriate
word — a description of what I do. Today I’m not
going to complain. No complaining today. You know, I was given
this wonderful honor. Why should I complain? You know, tomorrow we
can run this interview. Tomorrow I can say to
you, “Well, you know this? You know that?” Today I am happy.

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