As the former US Ambassador to Hungary and the chief of Protocol for the George W. Bush Administration, one could well imagine that she had quite a few stories to tell.
Most moving to me were the stories she told of her and her sister, Susie, growing up. She recalls a time that they decided they wanted to put on a show for their friends and family. Susie declared "You sing and dance, and I'll sell tickets". Nancy reluctantly agreed, and after the show she felt quite pleased with her performance. Her pride was short-lived, however, when Susie shortly thereafter declared "Next time I'll sing and dance and you sell the tickets".
Nancy discussed at length how important she considers public service. "We must serve!" She recalls how excited she was when she was offered the position of Ambassador to Hungary. Shockingly, she was due to depart for her post on September 11, 2001!
I wondered if I should still go, but my father said "there is never a conveniant time to serve your country". It took me 10 days to get to Hungary as the US shifted in to full war mode.
At that moment the room felt a collective shiver up their spine.
Nancy made the fight against breast cancer her number one priority while she served as Ambassador. With an emphasis on education and early detection, upon her departure breast cancer went from the first to the 3rd leading cause of death among Hungarian women.
As chief of protocol for the George W. Bush Admin., Nancy's primary responsibility was to help build relationships with other countries. "That is where the real diplomacy begins", she said. "We must reach out more to women and get back to basics. Smart diplomacy can bridge our differences." Something tells me she was exceptional in that capacity as well.
After her comments, Nancy took questions from the audience.
Nancy Brinker with Peoria City Council candidate Curphy Smith
She was asked if she ever speaks with President George W. Bush. She said she does frequently. The President and first lady are comfortably settled into their new home. She said that it would be hard to imagine the toll that the stress of the past eight years has taken on them. She holds them in the highest regard and said it deeply pains her to hear how some talk about his presidency. Have to say, I agree.
A big Thank you to the Peoria County Republican Women Lincoln Day Dinner committee who made this event such a resounding success!