At times emotional and at times optimistic, disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich addressed the Illinois citizens who twice elected him as their governor. He spoke of gratitude and the "dark" reality of a 14 year prison sentence ahead of him.
Below is a rough transcription of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's farewell remarks. The convicted governor spoke for nearly 12 minutes in advance of his reporting to a federal prison in Colorado.
Thank you, thank you. Okay. Thank you. ((kisses wife)) Thank you, thank you.
Let me uh begin by thanking...God bless you.
Patti and I wanna...thank you...Patti and I wanna take this opportunity, Patti and I wanna take this opportunity and uh we think we'd prefer to have another opportunity to do this but...we wanna thank all the people here today and everywhere who have been supportive and kind and good to us, to our children in what has been a very hard and long three years.
And as things get harder before they get better Patti and I can't begin to tell you how grateful we are from the bottom of our hearts. The inexpressible sense of gratitude that we have for all of you and everyone else have given your hearts, your wishes, who sent us bibles, prayer beads, bought us food and all the other things that have happened, we are so grateful to you and we want you to know we will never ever forget your kindness to us.
God bless all of you for that. Thank you. ((ppl yelling)) Let me...let me keep going. Um..let me also say to the people of Illinois how they honored me by electing me their governor twice and how honored I was to serve them as governor, to serve the people of the north and south sides of this neighborhood and all the neighborhoods I grew up in Congress for 6 years, to serve as a state lawmaker for 4 years I want you all to know you honored me with that privilege.
I believe I always always thought about what was right for the people, and I am proud as I leave and enter the next part of what is a dark and hard journey that I can take with the the sense of accomplishment and real belief that the things I did as governor, the things I did in congress have actually helped real ordinary people.
When I became governor I fought a lot, and maybe I fought too much, and maybe one of the lessons to this whole story is that you gotta be maybe a bit more humble. You can never have enough humility, and maybe I coulda had more of that. But one thing I had a lot of is a desire in my heart to help average, ordinary people. People who didn't have a voice.
People like my mother and father who got up every single day and went to work...who worked hard, who sacrificed for their kids, who did without so their kids could have things. And I want you to know that when we did the All Kids program to provide healthcare to all the kids in Illinois, the first state in American history, that was hard to do, not easy...but I am gratified in knowing that we helped a lot of kids and did things that saved lives.
(((cheering))) Healthcare...(((cheering)))...Healthcare for the mothers of those kids. We expanded healthcare to families, moms and dads, and helped save lives through that program. Breast and cervical cancer screening programs, mammograms and pap smears. Free ones for uninsured women. We know that the early detection of breast cancer and pap smears will save lives. they were hard to get.
I got bruised and battered and bloodied but we were able to get those done. Free rides for senior citizens...people got mad over that. I never understood that! (((cheering))
And I never raised the income tax on people...we fought the special interests to make sure that what we did for the people we didn't do on your backs...we took on the special interests and the lobbyists and I take that with me during this next journey...feeling that made some of being governor worthwhile to me.
(((people cheering "Free our governor!))) Thank you...I...I told the judge back in December that I certainly made my share of mistakes...I take responsibility and I'm responsible I told him for the things that I said, the things that I talked about doing. The political talk about how to raise campaign funds, the things that we believed were political horse trades and legal...I take responsibility for saying those things.
And as I told the judge back in December, everything I talked about doing when it came to campaign fundraising, political horse-trading, I believe was on the right side of the law. The decision went against me, I am responsible for the things I have said. I accept that decision, as hard as it is, and the law as it stands right now is that I have to go do what I have to go do, and this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
But it is the law and we follow the law and I will begin to do that tomorrow...now I wanna say something else. How do you make sense of all this? What do you tell your children when calamity strikes and hardship comes? What do you do when disaster hits your family and you leave behind your children and your wife? Tomorrow when I leave, and saying goodbye to Patti and my kids will the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
I've been putting off the thought about what that's going to be like. I can't even think about it now. And on top of this, the comfort I get as a father that's not gonna be here watching my children as they grow, not going to be here to help Patti raise our kids. As hopeful as we are about the long-term future, in the immediate future this is what's before us and my family.
How do you make sense of this and what do you tell your kids so they can appreciate the magnitude of this calamity. First and foremost Patti and I both acknowledge and we know calamity strikes not only our family, but families everywhere who are going through times much harder than we have to go through...who are going through loss and are suffering way more than what we have to go through, and we take strength from their example...how they fight through it, how they never give up, how they bare the hardship and the burden...
And maybe there is something in what's written in the bible in both the old and new testaments, and what the ancient Greeks wrote about "through suffering comes wisdom", and maybe through suffering and enduring hardship and persevering through that it's strengthens your faith to never give in and to never give up and ultimately teach your kids those values.
And it's one thing to say it to your kids, and it's another to actually do it..to stand tall in the face of adversity, because I have to confess there I times when I just wanna give up...but then I look into the eyes of our daughters and I look into the eyes of my little girls and I think that is NOT what a father is supposed to do.
You're supposed to show them how you fight through adversity, and you keep fighting and you stand strong, and you bare you crosses and you bare your burdens and that's what I hope maybe, maybe our kids can learn at least in part from us and the calamity that we're facing.
Let me say one thing too...bad news came again today in one of the things that I fine comforting to me as a dad as I have to leave my kids is knowing that my kids are in great schools, nice, safe, warm environments with great teachers and great students. And we learned today that Amy's school, St. Scholastica, was closing down, and that is a grevious blow to both Patti and I, and it is hard on Amy...((crowd places American flag on Blagojevich)))..We hope...((Patti asks crowd to remove flag from Rod's shoulders.))) We hope that if there's anybody out there that cares about that school St. Scholastica and they wanna keep that school open, if you can open up your hearts and do whatever else possible to keep that school open that should would meaning (sic) that sure would mean a lot..that's a good school to all of us.
There's another thing that I would like to say...and that is it's very easy to focus on all the negative when you're living it all the time, and you have to face what I have to face. I have a hard time even saying where I have to go. I have a hard time saying that I have to go to prison. That's a hard word for me to say, and in the night time when I say my prayers I speak to god euphemistically about helping Patti and the kids through this and then me through this next phase, but that is the reality as it is today and now we have to face this.
But part of facing it sometimes is to get perspective not just what you're facing today, what you've been facing yesterday and what you have to face tomorrow, but to take your whole life in perspective. And I have had many blessings in my life and it's not over. And among the blessings that I've had I've had two loving parents, an immigrant father who was a factory worker. An working mom who passed out transfers at the CTA, they never owned a home. They sacrificed and gave their kids opportunities they never had.
I've had the blessing of living the American dream. I have known triumph..high office, governor of the 5th biggest state in America, I have known what it's like to achieve things, real meaningful things like healthcare for kids and healthcare for women and doing things that help real ordinary people who don't have a voice...I've been blessed with that.
But most important I've been blessed with two precious children and loving and a beautiful wife...and it has been walking through life with Patti a most gracious, a most gracious journey. And you know when she took her vow and we married and she said through good times and bad...neither one of us could have imagined it would be like this...and here's been Patti standing strong, standing tall, and as I leave, not in a place to help my kids like I want to, not in a place to protect them as I should, not in a place to be able to work for them like my father worked for me, I know they have the best mother in the world and she will work hard, she will work tirelessly and she will do as she does in everything, great at everything, and most of all she will be the great mother that she is and I take that with me and I find strength and I am inspired by her,...I love you too honey (((kisses Patti as she cries)))((cheering)))
We are teaching our kids that in hard times and tears, you gotta live in your hopes not your fears. We live in our hopes we still have faith in our future. We are appealing the case, we have great trust and faith in the appeal, and while my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America. This is a country governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail, that right makes might, and that this, as bad as it is, is the beginning of our long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but that this is not over...and that we have faith in the future, faith in the rule of law...and that we have faith in God that right ultimately will make might.
God bless you, and thank you very much...and we will see you...and I will see you...I'll see you around. Thank you (((cheering)))