To look at Aung San Suu Kyi, demure, slight of stature, with a warm, easy smile on her face, one could never imagine what this Nobel Peace Prize recipient and worldwide symbol of the struggle for human rights has been through in her 67 years.
On Saturday morning, the former political prisoner, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, addressed a packed house at LeFrak Concert Hall at Queens College, where crowds of young and old alike stood in line for hours to be part of history, as this native of Burma, now known as Myanmar, made her first visit to the United States in nearly 40 years.
The talk came two days after she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor granted to a civilian by the United States — and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Aung San Suu Kyi derived her motivation as leader of her country’s political opposition, she said, from her father, a general who is considered the father of modern-day Burma and who was assassinated when she was two years old.
“I felt very close to him and I studied his life,” she said. “I understood his politics. I think he would have approved” of the path her life has taken.
The ceremony was attended by Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens and Bronx), who has championed her cause in United States, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) along with Grammy Award-winning singer Carole King and Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston.