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The best moments of the 2019 Al Smith Dinner


Jeffrey Bruno

John Burger - Jeffrey Bruno - published on 10/18/19 - updated on 10/18/19

General James Mattis has the audience rolling on the floor laughing at the annual charity event in the New York Archdiocese.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis came out shooting from both hips Thursday night at the Al Smith Dinner, and the room exploded in laughter.

Mattis was the keynote speaker at the 74th dinner, named for the first Catholic nominated for president by a major party. The annual event raises millions of dollars for poor families in New York.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided over the dinner, held at the New York Hilton Midtown. Comedian Martin Short emceed the event.

Speaking of his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, the retired Marine general said, “I tried to bring some peace and order to places that had no organized governments, that were chaotic, with warring factions. It was hard work, but it wasn’t until I started working in Washington, D.C., that I realized how easy I had it overseas, in a combat zone.”

Turning serious, Mattis opined that in the troubled times America is going through right now, a lot of basic principles seem to have been forgotten.

“We seem to have forgotten that America is not some finished work, nor is it a failed project,” he said. “Rather, it is an ongoing experiment for which all of us bear responsibility, including the responsibility to repair. We seem to have forgotten that the foundational principle of democracy is trust.”

In addition to Mattis, Mary Ann Tighe, a New York commercial real estate broker, was given the Happy Warrior Award, named in memory of Al Smith, who also served as New York’s governor. Another New Yorker, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, call him a “Happy Warrior.”

Watch Mattis’ keynote address below:

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