New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan Friday where members of the New York National Guard are constructing a 1,000-bed field hospital to help in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Below is the text of Cuomo's rallying cry for what he called a rescue mission that will change the nation forever and forge character:
"And I want to thank our National Guard because you are the best of us.
And whenever we call on you, you are there. And what you did in this facility in one week creating a hospital is just incredible.
I don't know how you did it. Now you did such a good job that I'm asking for four more from the president. That's the downside of being as good as you are at what you did. But what you did is really incredible.
And I want to make two points to you, and I want to make two promises to you: This is a different beast that we're dealing with. This is an invisible beast. It is an insidious beast.
This is not going to be a short deployment. This is not going to be that you go out there for a few days, we work hard and we go home.
This is gonna be weeks and weeks and weeks.
This is going to be a long day. And it's gonna be a hard day. And it's gonna be an ugly day. And it's gonna be a sad day.
This is a rescue mission that you're on. The mission is to save lives -- that's what you're doing. The rescue mission is to save lives and as hard as we work we're not going to be able to save everyone.
And what's even more cruel is this enemy doesn't attack the strongest of us. It attacks the weakest of us. It attacks our most vulnerable, which makes it even worse in many ways.
Because these are the people that every instinct tells us we are supposed to protect. These are our parents and grandparents. These are our aunts, our uncles. These are our relatives who are sick. And every instinct says protect them, help them, protect them because they need us.
And those are the exact people that this enemy attacks.
Every time, I've called out the National Guard I've said the same thing to you. I promise you, I will not ask you to do anything that I will not do myself and I'll never ask you to go anywhere that I won't go myself. And the same is true here.
We're going to do this and we're going to do this together.
My second point is, you are living a moment in history. This is going to be one of those moments they are going to write about and they're going to talk about for generations. This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people, make them stronger, make them weaker. But this is a moment that will change character.
And 10 years from now you'll be talking about today to your children or your grandchildren and you will shed a tear because you will remember the lives lost, and you'll remember the faces and you'll remember the names, and you'll remember how hard we worked and that we still lost loved ones.
And you'll shed a tear and you should because it will be sad. But you will also be proud. You'll be proud of what you did. You'll be proud that you showed up -- you showed up -- when other people played it safe you had the courage to show up and you had the skill and the professionalism to make a difference and save lives.
That's what you will have done and at the end of the day nobody can ask anything more from you. That is your duty, to do what you can when you can. And you will have shown skill and courage and talent. You'll be there with you mind. You'll be there with your heart. And you'll serve with honor and that will give you pride and you should be proud.
I know that I am proud of you. And every time the National Guard has been called out they have made every New Yorker proud. And I am proud to be with you yet again. And I'm proud to fight this fight with you and I bring you thanks from all New Yorkers, who are just so appreciative of the sacrifice that you are making, the skill that you are bringing, the talent that you're bringing. And you give many New Yorkers confidence.
So I say, my friends, that we go out there today and we kick coronavirus ass.
That's what I say. And we're going to save lives and New York is going to thank you. God bless each and every one of you."