I have to say inaudiable and Happy Holiday season to all of you, today is the first day of Hanukkah, and I guess so far it's the best Hanukkah I'll be celebrating for a long time. What a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country and thank you President Obama for everything you have done today and leading up to today. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary determined efforts of my wife Judy, forty four and a half years, we've been married.
I know you're not 44 and a half years. And my lawyer and personal Moses, Scott Gilbert and their efforts to restore my freedom. They have my endless gratitude love and respect. The relentless and often intense efforts of Judy and Scott. The partners and associates and staff of Gilbert LLP law firm, where we are right now.
They made me take the jacket off, I didn't want to take my jacket off. Tim Ressert of Capitol Hill, Gill Zuckman, SKD Knickerbocker, have been in convincible, their efforts have been in convincible. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has been instrument of shepherding the arrival of this day, and I want to thank all the members of Congress from all sides of the aisle. Such as Senator Flake, Representative Chris Van Hollen and numerous others who spoke up or visited me.
Subjected themselves to my ranting and help me regain some of my weight. Even in Cuba, M&Ms melts in your mouth not in your hands. To all of those who tried to visit me but were unable to, thank you for trying. I'm at your service as soon as I get some new teeth. And I hope they'll be strong and sharp enough to make a difference.
To the Washington Jewish community, Ron Halber in particular and his staff at the Jewish Community Relations Council, the JCRC. All of the executive directors, staff and volunteers of participating JCRCs, Federations, Synagogues, schools and other Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations nationwide, God bless you and thank you.
It was crucial to my survival knowing that I was not forgotten, your prayers and your actions have been comforting, reassuring and sustaining. And to my extended family, especially my sister Bonnie, my cousins and friends, Howard Crus, our Shabbat group, Tony and Larry and so many others who exemplify the true meaning of friendship. Thank you. I do understand that there are many others.
Who actively participated in securing my freedom of whom I'm only nominally aware at this juncture. I promise I will express more direct and personal gratitude just as soon as I know who you are. But ultimately - ultimately the decision to arrange to arrange for and secure my release was made in the Oval Office. So President Obama and the NSC Staff, thank you.
In my last letter to President Obama, I wrote that despite my five year tenure in captivity, I would not want to trade places with him and I certainly wouldn't want to trade places with him on this glorious day. Five years of isolation notwithstanding, I did not need daily briefings to be cognizant of what our undoubtedly incredible talent is placed in our nation in the global community.
I also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness of the people of Cuba. In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected. To me, Cubanos - or at least most of 'em - are incredibly kind, generous and talented. It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments mutually belligerent policies.
Five and a half decades of history show us that such belligerence inhibits better judgment. Two wrongs never make a right. I truly hope that we can now get beyond the mutually belligerent policies and I was very happy to hear what the President has to say today. It was particularly cool to be sitting next to the Secretary of State as he was hearing about his job description for the next couple of months.
In all seriousness, this is game changing, which I fully support. In the meantime, I ask that you respect my wishes for complete and total privacy. Claro? A judicious lesson that I've learned from this experience is that freedom is not free. And that is personified by Scott and the entire team. We must never forget the two colors of Moses Covenant - freedom and responsibility.
I am incredibly blessed, finally to have the freedom to resume a positive and constructive life. But for now I'll close with a quote from a Nelson DeMille's character, "It's good to be home." Thank you and I wish you all a happy holiday season. Thank you.