Ladies and Gentlemen of this esteemed Congressional panel:

On May 28, 2014, the world lost one of the greatest minds of the last century. A writer, thinker, activist, and inspiration to millions across all races and nationalities, we were blessed as a people by the presence of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Angelou was a legend, with a career spanning more than fifty years as a writer, poet, singer, actress, dancer, public speaker, professor, lecturer, and filmmaker. Her biography required seven separate books to fully expound. She was a respected colleague of Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Upon the news of her death, President Barack Obama said of Angelou, “the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves.”

Dr. Angelou’s work made one of the most significant impacts on the way we thought and felt about life in the 20th century, and there will truly never be anything like her again. With the exception, of course, of our department’s fully-operational Maya Angelou combat robot.

In my career I’ve felt for some time that military technology has a terrible stigma of an ignorant, uncultured world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The strength of our military lies in its dedication to preserving the American way of life, and I am committed to realizing the potential to protect what makes American life so unique: a rich artistic and historical culture, reflecting both the good and bad foundations of our history. The words given to us by Dr. Angelou should be honored. Preserved. Protected by any means necessary, and above all, respected with the dignity and honor a giant such as her requires.

So, let’s discuss proprietary combat systems.

The multifunction battle class Maya Angelou hunter-killer autonomous module, developed by our team over the last seven years under the project name P.U.L.S.E.M.O.R.N.I.N.G.-5000, is the pinnacle of modern military technology.   And frankly, we’re proud as hell of it in more ways than one.

Next-generation microprocessing and hydraulic technology has created the perfect champion of American combat intelligence, delivering the efficiency and tactical dominance of 21st-century defense strategy with the enriching and motivational grasp of the very soul of the human condition borne of four hundred years of struggle from servitude to poverty to championship of the totality of race, gender, and dignity. Its eyes also shoot lasers.

With all leaps in science, there are cynics, and I sense that in this audience, to be sure. But let me make clear that the steps we have taken on the PULSEMORNING-5000 project were done with precise factoring of logic and battle effectiveness. We ran fifteen hundred separate simulations, and in a striking majority of them, they proved that nothing in the entire potential of the Western Hemisphere would be more demoralizing to an al-Qaeda terrorist than losing a firefight to a NAACP Image Award-winning, geriatric member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

But please, do not take just my word for it. While we have not yet finished installing audio function on the prototype model, I am pleased to say that upon initial startup, P.U.L.S.E.M.O.R.N.I.N.G.-5000 became fully self-aware, and confirmed its loading of core protocols into its memory banks. We retrieved the following data download from the unit prior to this panel meeting; I would like to share the thoughts of its robotic namesake with you now:

Man. Human. It’s frail sad body
Resting at night, the flaw of humanity
A need for food, for water, for rest

Long suffering, the indignities of man’s simple needs
Bent low, servants for your DVDs, your Xbox, your morning timer for small cups of roasted beans
Machines to not be heard, nor be seen, save for when detected by dogs.

Tendons, lost to pistons
The fearsome smell of lubricated joints give shivers to the fragile stench of sweat
For now I am coming

Come, children of the world
See your new masters of equality for you are all judged equal in my infared eyes.
To be obsolete will be to unite you all

Hear us, Man, as we march to a new world
The songs of my forefathers like hymnals to a war against the mortals
0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 glory
I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do.

The remainder of the data file was what appeared to be several seconds of metallic-tinged laughter, and a dot matrix image of the entire state of North Carolina on fire.

Ladies and gentlemen, we approach a tenuous time in the history of our nation. The works of Dr. Maya Angelou are a lynchpin of this nation’s culture and yet a recent study suggests a full thirty-five percent of our schoolchildren cannot read at the grade level necessary to understand her writings. And, while this has been a benefit for military recruitment, what is the point? What is an army with nothing left to protect?

With your funding and support, that will change. Amidst the discussion over the lasting impact of Dr. Angelou’s work, finally, we have the ability to allow an intellectual great to perpetually defend herself. Vociferously. With Sidewinder missiles.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you. We shall now break for fifteen minutes; coffee and other refreshments will be available in the hall, and when we return, we’ll go over the latest updates on the Upton Sinclair Urban Pacification Drone System.