Las Cruces, NM | May 26, 2008
On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, our sense of patriotism is particularly strong. Because while we gather here under open skies, we know that far beyond the Organ Mountains – in the streets of Baghdad, and the outskirts of Kabul – America's sons and daughters are sacrificing on our behalf. And our thoughts and prayers are with them.
I speak to you today with deep humility. My grandfather marched in Patton's Army, but I cannot know what it is to walk into battle like so many of you. My grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line, but I cannot know what it is for a family to sacrifice like so many of yours have.
I am the father of two young girls, and I cannot imagine what it is to lose a child. My heart breaks for the families who've lost a loved one.
These are things I cannot know. But there are also some things I do know.
I know that our sadness today is mixed with pride; that those we've lost will be remembered by a grateful nation; and that our presence here today is only possible because your loved ones, America's patriots, were willing to give their lives to defend our nation.
I know that while we may come from different places, cherish different traditions, and have different political beliefs, we all – every one of us – hold in reverence those who've given this country the full measure of their devotion.
And I know that children in New Mexico and across this country look to your children, to your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends – to those we honor today – as a shining example of what's best about America.
Their lives are a model for us all.
What led these men and women to wear their country's uniform? What is it that leads anyone to put aside their own pursuit of life's comforts; to subordinate their own sense of survival, for something bigger – something greater?
Many of those we honor today were so young when they were killed. They had a whole life ahead of them – birthdays and weddings, holidays with children and grandchildren, homes and jobs and happiness of their own. And yet, at one moment or another, they felt the tug, just as generations of Americans did before them. Maybe it was a massacre in a Boston square; or a President's call to save the Union and free the slaves. Maybe it was the day of infamy that awakened a nation to a storm in the Pacific and a madman's death march across Europe. Or maybe it was the morning they woke up to see our walls of security crumble along with our two largest towers.
Whatever the moment was, when it came and they felt that tug, perhaps it was simply the thought of a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife, or a child not yet born that made this young American think that it was time to go; that made them think "I must serve so that the people I love can live – in happiness, and safety, and freedom."
This sense of service is what America is all about. It is what leads Americans to enter the military. It is what sustains them in the most difficult hours. And it is the safeguard of our security.
You see, America has the greatest military in the history of the world. We have the best training, the most advanced technology, the most sophisticated planning, and the most powerful weapons. And yet, in the end, though each of these things is absolutely critical, the true strength of our military lies someplace else.
It lies in the spirit of America's servicemen and women. No matter whether they faced down fascism or fought for freedom in Korea and Vietnam; liberated Kuwait or stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans or serve brilliantly and bravely under our flag today; no matter whether they are black, white, Latino, Asian, or Native American; whether they come from old military families, or are recent immigrants – their stories tell the same truth.
It is not simply their bravery, their insistence on doing their part – whatever the cost – to make America more secure and our world more free. It's not simply an unflinching belief in our highest ideals. It's that in the thick of battle, when their very survival is threatened, America's sons and daughters aren't thinking about themselves, they're thinking about one another; they're risking everything to save not their own lives, but the lives of their fellow soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. And when we lose them – in a final act of selflessness and service – we know that they died so that their brothers and sisters, so that our nation, might live.
What makes America's servicemen and women heroes is not just their sense of duty, honor, and country; it's the bigness of their hearts and the breadth of their compassion.
That is what we honor today.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked that "To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might." The Americans we honor today believed. Sergeant Ryan Jopek believed. Ryan was just weeks away from coming home when he volunteered for a mission to Mosul from which he would never return. His friends remember his easy smile; I remember Ryan because of the bracelet his mother gave me that I wear every day. Next to his name, it reads: "All gave some – he gave all."
It is a living reminder of our obligation as Americans to serve Ryan as well as he served us; as well as the wounded warriors I've had the honor of meeting at Walter Reed have served us; as well as the soldiers at Fort Bliss and the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world are serving us. That means giving the same priority to building a 21st century VA as to building a 21st century military. It means having zero tolerance for veterans sleeping on our streets. It means bringing home our POWs and MIAs. And it means treating the graves of veterans like the hallowed ground it is and banning protests near funerals.
But it also means something more. It means understanding that what Ryan and so many Americans fought and died for is not a place on a map or a certain kind of people. What they sacrificed for – what they gave all for – is a larger idea – the idea that a nation can be governed by laws, not men; that we can be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we can be free to say what we want, write what we want, and worship as we please; that we can have the right to pursue our own dreams, but the obligation to help our fellow Americans pursue theirs.
So on this day, of all days, let's memorialize our fallen heroes by honoring all who wear our country's uniform; and by completing their work to make America more secure and our world more free. But let's also do our part – service-member and civilian alike – to live up to the idea that so many of our fellow citizens have consecrated – the idea of America. That is the essence of patriotism. That is the lesson of this solemn day. And that is the task that lies ahead. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Middletown, CT | May 25, 2008
Thank you, President Roth, for that generous introduction, and congratulations on your first year at the helm of Wesleyan. Congratulations also to the class of 2008, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your graduation.
I have the distinct honor today of pinch-hitting for one of my personal heroes and a hero to this country, Senator Edward Kennedy. Teddy wanted to be here very much, but as you know, he's had a very long week and is taking some much-needed rest. He called me up a few days ago and I said that I'd be happy to be his stand-in, even if there was no way I could fill his shoes.
I did, however, get the chance to glance at the speech he planned on delivering today, and I'd like to start by passing along a message from him: "To all those praying for my return to good health, I offer my heartfelt thanks. And to any who'd rather have a different result, I say, don't get your hopes up just yet!"
So we know that Ted Kennedy's legendary sense of humor is as strong as ever, and I have no doubt that his equally legendary fighting spirit will carry him through this latest challenge. He is our friend, he is our champion, and we hope and pray for his return to good health.
The topic of his speech today was common for a commencement, but one that nobody could discuss with more authority or inspiration than Ted Kennedy. And that is the topic of service to one's country – a cause that is synonymous with his family's name and their legacy.
I was born the year that his brother John called a generation of Americans to ask their country what they could do. And I came of age at a time when they did it. They were the Peace Corps volunteers who won a generation of goodwill toward America at a time when America's ideals were challenged. They were the teenagers and college students, not much older than you, who watched the Civil Rights Movement unfold on their television sets; who saw the dogs and the fire hoses and the footage of marchers beaten within an inch or their lives; who knew it was probably smarter and safer to stay at home, but still decided to take those Freedom Rides down south – who still decided to march. And because they did, they changed the world.
I bring this up because today, you are about to enter a world that makes it easy to get caught up in the notion that there are actually two different stories at work in our lives.
The first is the story of our everyday cares and concerns – the responsibilities we have to our jobs and our families – the bustle and busyness of what happens in our own life. And the second is the story of what happens in the life of our country – of what happens in the wider world. It's the story you see when you catch a glimpse of the day's headlines or turn on the news at night – a story of big challenges like war and recession; hunger and climate change; injustice and inequality. It's a story that can sometimes seem distant and separate from our own – a destiny to be shaped by forces beyond our control.
And yet, the history of this nation tells us this isn't so. It tells us that we are a people whose destiny has never been written for us, but by us – by generations of men and women, young and old, who have always believed that their story and the American story are not separate, but shared. And for more than two centuries, they have served this country in ways that have forever enriched both.
I say this to you as someone who couldn't be standing here today if not for the service of others, and wouldn't be standing here today if not for the purpose that service gave my own life.
You see, I spent much of my childhood adrift. My father left my mother and I when I was two. When my mother remarried, I lived in Indonesia for a time, but was mostly raised in Hawaii by her and my grandparents from Kansas. My teenage years were filled with more than the usual dose of adolescent rebellion, and I'll admit that I didn't always take myself or my studies very seriously. I realize that none of you can probably relate to this, but there were many times when I wasn't sure where I was going, or what I would do.
But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me –hard work, honesty, empathy – had resurfaced after a long hibernation; or perhaps because of the example of wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world beyond myself. I became active in the movement to oppose the apartheid regime of South Africa. I began following the debates in this country about poverty and health care. So that by the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea – that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change.
I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of. And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings. My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school. My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car.
And I said yes.
Now, I didn't know a soul in Chicago, and I wasn't sure what this community organizing business was all about. I had always been inspired by stories of the Civil Rights Movement and JFK's call to service, but when I got to the South Side, there were no marches, and no soaring speeches. In the shadow of an empty steel plant, there were just a lot of folks who were struggling. And we didn't get very far at first.
I still remember one of the very first meetings we put together to discuss gang violence with a group of community leaders. We waited and waited for people to show up, and finally, a group of older people walked into the hall. And they sat down. And a little old lady raised her hand and asked, "Is this where the bingo game is?"
It wasn't easy, but eventually, we made progress. Day by day, block by block, we brought the community together, and registered new voters, and set up after school programs, and fought for new jobs, and helped people live lives with some measure of dignity.
But I also began to realize that I wasn't just helping other people. Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction I'd been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America.
Each of you will have the chance to make your own discovery in the years to come. And I say "chance" because you won't have to take it. There's no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should by. You can choose to narrow your concerns and live your life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America's.
But I hope you don't. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have that debt.
It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you'll play in writing the next great chapter in America's story
There are so many ways to serve and so much need at this defining moment in our history. You don't have to be a community organizer or do something crazy like run for President. Right here at Wesleyan, many of you have already volunteered at local schools, contributed to United Way, and even started a program that brings fresh produce to needy families in the area. One hundred and sixty-four graduates of this school have joined the Peace Corps since 2001, and I'm especially proud that two of you are about to leave for my father's homeland of Kenya to bring alternative sources of energy to impoverished areas.
I ask you to seek these opportunities when you leave here, because the future of this country – your future – depends on it. At a time when our security and moral standing depend on winning hearts and minds in the forgotten corners of this world, we need more of you to serve abroad. As President, I intend to grow the Foreign Service, double the Peace Corps over the next few years, and engage the young people of other nations in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity.
At a time when our ice caps are melting and our oceans are rising, we need you to help lead a green revolution. We still have time to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change if we get serious about investing in renewable sources of energy, and if we get a generation of volunteers to work on renewable energy projects, and teach folks about conservation, and help clean up polluted areas; if we send talented engineers and scientists abroad to help developing countries promote clean energy.
At a time when a child in Boston must compete with children in Beijing and Bangalore, we need an army of you to become teachers and principals in schools that this nation cannot afford to give up on. I will pay our educators what they deserve, and give them more support, but I will also ask more of them to be mentors to other teachers, and serve in high-need schools and high-need subject areas like math and science.
At a time when there are children in the city of New Orleans who still spend each night in a lonely trailer, we need more of you to take a weekend or a week off from work, and head down South, and help rebuild. If you can't get the time, volunteer at the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen in your own community. Find an organization that's fighting poverty, or a candidate who promotes policies you believe in, and find a way to help them.
At a time of war, we need you to work for peace. At a time of inequality, we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again.
Now understand this - believing that change is possible is not the same as being naïve. Go into service with your eyes wide open, for change will not come easily. On the big issues that our nation faces, difficult choices await. We'll have to face some hard truths, and some sacrifice will be required – not only from you individually, but from the nation as a whole.
There is no magic bullet to our energy problems, for example; no perfect energy source - so all of us will have to use the energy sources we have more wisely. Deep-rooted poverty will not be reversed overnight, and will require both money and reform at a time when our federal and state budgets are strapped and Washington is skeptical that reform is possible. Transforming our education system will require not only bold government action, but a change in attitudes among parents and students. Bringing an end to the slaughter in Darfur will involve navigating extremely difficult realities on the ground, even for those with the best of intentions.
And so, should you take the path of service, should you choose to take up one of these causes as your own, know that you'll experience frustrations and failures. Even your successes will be marked by imperfections and unintended consequences. I guarantee you, there will certainly be times when friends or family urge you to pursue more sensible endeavors with more tangible rewards. And there will be times when you are tempted to take their advice.
But I hope you'll remember, during those times of doubt and frustration, that there is nothing naïve about your impulse to change this world. Because all it takes is one act of service – one blow against injustice – to send forth that tiny ripple of hope that Robert Kennedy spoke of.
You know, Ted Kennedy often tells a story about the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps. He was there, and he asked one of the young Americans why he had chosen to volunteer. And the man replied, "Because it was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country."
I don't know how many of you have been asked that question, but after today, you have no excuses. I am asking you, and if I should have the honor of serving this nation as President, I will be asking again in the coming years. We may disagree on certain issues and positions, but I believe we can be unified in service to a greater good. I intend to make it a cause of my presidency, and I believe with all my heart that this generation is ready, and eager, and up to the challenge.
We will face our share of cynics and doubters. But we always have. I can still remember a conversation I had with an older man all those years ago just before I left for Chicago. He said, "Barack, I'll give you a bit of advice. Forget this community organizing business and do something that's gonna make you some money. You can't change the world, and people won't appreciate you trying. But you've got a nice voice, so you should think about going into television broadcasting. I'm telling you, you've got a future."
Now, he may have been right about the TV thing, but he was wrong about everything else. For that old man has not seen what I have seen. He has not seen the faces of ordinary people the first time they clear a vacant lot or build a new playground or force an unresponsive leader to provide services to their community. He has not seen the face of a child brighten because of an inspiring teacher or mentor. He has not seen scores of young people educate their parents on issues like Darfur, or mobilize the conscience of a nation around the challenge of climate change. He has not seen lines of men and women that wrap around schools and churches, that stretch block after block just so they could make their voices heard, many for the very first time.
And that old man who didn't believe the world could change – who didn't think one person could make a difference – well he certainly didn't know much about the life of Joseph Kennedy's youngest son.
It is rare in this country of ours that a person exists who has touched the lives of nearly every single American without many of us even realizing it. And yet, because of Ted Kennedy, millions of children can see a doctor when they get sick. Mothers and fathers can leave work to spend time with their newborns. Working Americans are paid higher wages, and compensated for overtime, and can keep their health insurance when they change jobs. They are protected from discrimination in the workplace, and those who are born with disabilities can still get an education, and health care, and fair treatment on the job. Our schools are stronger and our colleges are filled with more Americans who can afford it. And I have a feeling that Ted Kennedy is not done just yet.
But surely, if one man can achieve so much and make such a difference in the lives of so many, then each of us can do our part. Surely, if his service and his story can forever shape America's story, then our collective service can shape the destiny of this generation. At the very least, his living example calls each of us to try. That is all I ask of you on this joyous day of new beginnings; that is what Senator Kennedy asks of you as well, and that is how we will keep so much needed work going, and the cause of justice everlasting, and the dream alive for generations to come. Thank you so much to the class of 2008, and congratulations on your graduation.
Miami, FL | May 23, 2008
It is my privilege to join in this week's Independence Day celebration, and in honoring those who have stood up with courage and conviction for Cuban liberty. I'm going to take this opportunity to speak about Cuba, and also U.S. policy toward the Americas more broadly.
We meet here united in our unshakeable commitment to freedom. And it is fitting that we reaffirm that commitment here in Miami.
In many ways, Miami stands as a symbol of hope for what's possible in the Americas. Miami's promise of liberty and opportunity has drawn generations of immigrants to these shores, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes on their back. It was a similar hope that drew my own father across an ocean, in search of the same promise that our dreams need not be deferred because of who we are, what we look like, or where we come from.
Here, in Miami, that promise can join people together. We take common pride in a vibrant and diverse democracy, and a hard-earned prosperity. We find common pleasure in the crack of the bat, in the rhythms of our music, and the ease of voices shifting from Spanish or Creole or Portuguese to English.
These bonds are built on a foundation of shared history in our hemisphere. Colonized by empires, we share stories of liberation. Confronted by our own imperfections, we are joined in a desire to build a more perfect union. Rich in resources, we have yet to vanquish poverty.
What all of us strive for is freedom as FDR described it. Political freedom. Religious freedom. But also freedom from want, and freedom from fear. At our best, the United States has been a force for these four freedoms in the Americas. But if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that at times we've failed to engage the people of the region with the respect owed to a partner.
When George Bush was elected, he held out the promise that this would change. He raised the hopes of the region that our engagement would be sustained instead of piecemeal. He called Mexico our most important bilateral relationship, and pledged to make Latin America a "fundamental commitment" of his presidency. It seemed that a new 21st century era had dawned.
Almost eight years later, those high hopes have been dashed.
Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region.
No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. But the United States is so alienated from the rest of the Americas that this stale vision has gone unchallenged, and has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua. And Chavez and his allies are not the only ones filling the vacuum. While the United States fails to address the changing realities in the Americas, others from Europe and Asia – notably China – have stepped up their own engagement. Iran has drawn closer to Venezuela, and just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits.
That is the record – the Bush record in Latin America – that John McCain has chosen to embrace. Senator McCain doesn't talk about these trends in our hemisphere because he knows that it's part of the broader Bush-McCain failure to address priorities beyond Iraq. The situation has changed in the Americas, but we've failed to change with it. Instead of engaging the people of the region, we've acted as if we can still dictate terms unilaterally. We have not offered a clear and comprehensive vision, backed up with strong diplomacy. We are failing to join the battle for hearts and minds. For far too long, Washington has engaged in outdated debates and stuck to tired blueprints on drugs and trade, on democracy and development -- even though they won't meet the tests of the future.
The stakes could not be higher. It is time for us to recognize that the future security and prosperity of the United States is fundamentally tied to the future of the Americas. If we don't turn away from the policies of the past, then we won't be able to shape the future. The Bush Administration has offered no clear vision for this future, and neither has John McCain.
So we face a clear choice in this election. We can continue as a bystander, or we can lead the hemisphere into the 21st century. And when I am President of the United States, we will choose to lead.
It's time for a new alliance of the Americas. After eight years of the failed policies of the past, we need new leadership for the future. After decades pressing for top-down reform, we need an agenda that advances democracy, security, and opportunity from the bottom up. So my policy towards the Americas will be guided by the simple principle that what's good for the people of the Americas is good for the United States. That means measuring success not just through agreements among governments, but also through the hopes of the child in the favelas of Rio, the security for the policeman in Mexico City, and the answered cries of political prisoners heard from jails in Havana.
The first and most fundamental freedom that we must work for is political freedom. The United States must be a relentless advocate for democracy.
I grew up for a time in Indonesia. It was a society struggling to achieve meaningful democracy. Power could be undisguised and indiscriminate. Too often, power wore a uniform, and was unaccountable to the people. Some still had good reason to fear a knock on the door.
There is no place for this kind of tyranny in this hemisphere. There is no place for any darkness that would shut out the light of liberty. Here we must heed the words of Dr. King, written from his own jail cell: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy. This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century – of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba.
Now I know what the easy thing is to do for American politicians. Every four years, they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington, and nothing changes in Cuba. That's what John McCain did the other day. He joined the parade of politicians who make the same empty promises year after year, decade after decade. Instead of offering a strategy for change, he chose to distort my position, embrace George Bush's, and continue a policy that's done nothing to advance freedom for the Cuban people. That's the political posture that John McCain has chosen, and all it shows is that you can't take his so-called straight talk seriously.
My policy toward Cuba will be guided by one word: Libertad. And the road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba's political prisoners, the rights of free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly; and it must lead to elections that are free and fair.
Now let me be clear. John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.
I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.
It's time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It's time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That's why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.
I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba – through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.
And we know that freedom across our hemisphere must go beyond elections. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader. But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power. Yet the Bush Administration's blustery condemnations and clumsy attempts to undermine Chavez have only strengthened his hand.
We've heard plenty of talk about democracy from George Bush, but we need steady action. We must put forward a vision of democracy that goes beyond the ballot box. We should increase our support for strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and the rule of law. That is how we can support democracy that is strong and sustainable not just on an election day, but in the day to day lives of the people of the Americas.
That is what is so badly needed – not just in Cuba and Venezuela – but just to our southeast in Haiti as well. The Haitian people have suffered too long under governments that cared more about their own power than their peoples' progress and prosperity. It's time to press Haiti's leaders to bridge the divides between them. And it's time to invest in the economic development that must underpin the security that the Haitian people lack. And that is why the second part of my agenda will be advancing freedom from fear in the Americas.
For too many people in our hemisphere, security is absent from their daily lives. And for far too long, Washington has been trapped in a conventional thinking about Latin America and the Caribbean. From the right, we hear about violent insurgents. From the left, we hear about paramilitaries. This is the predictable debate that seems frozen in time from the 1980s. You're either soft on Communism or soft on death squads. And it has more to do with the politics of Washington than beating back the perils that so many people face in the Americas.
The person living in fear of violence doesn't care if they're threatened by a right-wing paramilitary or a left-wing terrorist; they don't care if they're being threatened by a drug cartel or a corrupt police force. They just care that they're being threatened, and that their families can't live and work in peace. That is why there will never be true security unless we focus our efforts on targeting every source of fear in the Americas. That's what I'll do as President of the United States.
For the people of Colombia – who have suffered at the hands of killers of every sort – that means battling all sources of violence. When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges. We will fully support Colombia's fight against the FARC. We'll work with the government to end the reign of terror from right wing paramilitaries. We will support Colombia's right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and – if need be – strong sanctions. It must not stand.
We must also make clear our support for labor rights, and human rights, and that means meaningful support for Colombia's democratic institutions. We've neglected this support – especially for the rule of law – for far too long. In every country in our hemisphere – including our own – governments must develop the tools to protect their people.
Because if we've learned anything in our history in the Americas, it's that true security cannot come from force alone. Not as long as there are towns in Mexico where drug kingpins are more powerful than judges. Not as long as there are children who grow up afraid of the police. Not as long as drugs and gangs move north across our border, while guns and cash move south in return.
This nexus is a danger to every country in the region – including our own. Thousands of Central American gang members have been arrested across the United States, including here in south Florida. There are national emergencies facing Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Mexican drug cartels are terrorizing cities and towns. President Calderon was right to say that enough is enough. We must support Mexico's effort to crack down. But we must stand for more than force – we must support the rule of law from the bottom up. That means more investments in prevention and prosecutors; in community policing and an independent judiciary.
I agree with my friend, Senator Dick Lugar – the Merida Initiative does not invest enough in Central America, where much of the trafficking and gang activity begins. And we must press further south as well. It's time to work together to find the best practices that work across the hemisphere, and to tailor approaches to fit each country. That's why I will direct my Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to sit down with all their counterparts in the Americas during my first year in office. We'll strive for unity of effort. We'll provide the resources, and ask that every country do the same. And we'll tie our support to clear benchmarks for drug seizures, corruption prosecutions, crime reduction, and kingpins busted.
We have to do our part. And that is why a core part of this effort will be a northbound-southbound strategy. We need tougher border security, and a renewed focus on busting up gangs and traffickers crossing our border. But we must address the material heading south as well. As President, I'll make it clear that we're coming after the guns, we're coming after the money laundering, and we're coming after the vehicles that enable this crime. And we'll crack down on the demand for drugs in our own communities, and restore funding for drug task forces and the COPS program. We must win the fights on our own streets if we're going to secure the region.
The third part of my agenda is advancing freedom from want, because there is much that we can do to advance opportunity for the people of the Americas.
That begins with understanding what's changed in Latin America, and what hasn't. Enormous wealth has been created, and financial markets are far stronger than a decade ago. Brazil's economy has grown by leaps and bounds, and perhaps the second richest person in the world is a Mexican. Yet while there has been great economic progress, there is still back-breaking inequality. Despite a growing middle class, 100 million people live on less than two dollars a day, and 40 percent of Latin Americans live in poverty. This feeds everything from drugs, to migration, to support for leaders that appeal to the poor without delivering on their promises.
That is why the United States must stand for growth in the Americas from the bottom up. That begins at home, with comprehensive immigration reform. That means securing our border and passing tough employer enforcement laws. It means bringing 12 million unauthorized immigrants out of the shadows. But it also means working with Mexico, Central America and others to support bottom up development to our south.
For two hundred years, the United States has made it clear that we won't stand for foreign intervention in our hemisphere. But every day, all across the Americas, there is a different kind of struggle – not against foreign armies, but against the deadly threat of hunger and thirst, disease and despair. That is not a future that we have to accept – not for the child in Port au Prince or the family in the highlands of Peru. We can do better. We must do better.
We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach. Responsibility rests with governments in the region, but we must do our part. I will substantially increase our aid to the Americas, and embrace the Millennium Development Goals of halving global poverty by 2015. We'll target support to bottom-up growth through micro financing, vocational training, and small enterprise development. It's time for the United States to once again be a beacon of hope and a helping hand.
Trade must be part of this solution. But I strongly reject the Bush-McCain view that any trade deal is a good deal. We cannot accept trade that enriches those at the top of the ladder while cutting out the rungs at the bottom. It's time to understand that the goal of our trade policy must be trade that works for all people in all countries. Like Central America's bishops, I opposed CAFTA because the needs of workers were not adequately addressed. I supported the Peru Free Trade Agreement because there were binding labor and environmental provisions. That's the kind of trade we need – trade that lifts up workers, not just a corporate bottom line.
There's nothing protectionist about demanding that trade spreads the benefits of globalization, instead of steering them to special interests while we short-change workers at home and abroad. If John McCain believes – as he said the other day – that 80 percent of Americans think we're on the wrong track because we haven't passed free trade with Colombia, then he's totally out of touch with the American people. And if John McCain thinks that we can paper over our failure of leadership in the region by occasionally passing trade deals with friendly governments, then he's out of touch with the people of the Americas.
And we have to look for ways to grow our economies and deepen integration beyond trade deals. That's what China is doing right now, as they build bridges from Beijing to Brazil, and expand their investments across the region. If the United States does not step forward, we risk being left behind. And that is why we must seize a unique opportunity to lead the region toward a more secure and sustainable energy future.
All of us feel the impact of the global energy crisis. In the short-term, it means an ever-more expensive addiction to oil, which bankrolls petro-powered authoritarianism around the globe, and drives up the cost of everything from a tank of gas to dinner on the table. And in the long-term, few regions are more imperiled by the stronger storms, higher floodwaters, and devastating droughts that could come with global warming. Whole crops could disappear, putting the food supply at risk for hundreds of millions.
While we share this risk, we also share the resources to do something about it. That's why I'll bring together the countries of the region in a new Energy Partnership for the Americas. We need to go beyond bilateral agreements. We need a regional approach. Together, we can forge a path toward sustainable growth and clean energy.
Leadership must begin at home. That's why I've proposed a cap and trade system to limit our carbon emissions and to invest in alternative sources of energy. We'll allow industrial emitters to offset a portion of this cost by investing in low carbon energy projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. And we'll increase research and development across the Americas in clean coal technology, in the next generation of sustainable biofuels not taken from food crops, and in wind and solar energy.
We'll enlist the World Bank, the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Development Bank to support these investments, and ensure that these projects enhance natural resources like land, wildlife, and rain forests. We'll finally enforce environmental standards in our trade deals. We'll establish a program for the Department of Energy and our laboratories to share technology with countries across the region. We'll assess the opportunities and risks of nuclear power in the hemisphere by sitting down with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. And we'll call on the American people to join this effort through an Energy Corps of engineers and scientists who will go abroad to help develop clean energy solutions.
This is the unique role that the United States can play. We can offer more than the tyranny of oil. We can learn from the progress made in a country like Brazil, while making the Americas a model for the world. We can offer leadership that serves the common prosperity and common security of the entire region.
This is the promise of FDR's Four Freedoms that we must realize. But only if we recognize that in the 21st century, we cannot treat Latin America and the Caribbean as a junior partner, just as our neighbors to the south should reject the bombast of authoritarian bullies. An alliance of the Americas will only succeed if it is founded on a bedrock of mutual respect. It's time to turn the page on the arrogance in Washington and the anti-Americanism across the region that stands in the way of progress. It's time to listen to one another and to learn from one another.
To fulfill this promise, my Administration won't wait six years to proclaim a "year of engagement." We will pursue aggressive, principled, and sustained diplomacy in the Americas from Day One. I will reinstate a Special Envoy for the Americas in my White House who will work with my full support. But we'll also expand the Foreign Service, and open more consulates in the neglected regions of the Americas. We'll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people.
And we must tap the vast resource of our own immigrant population to advance each part of our agenda. One of the troubling aspects of our recent politics has been the anti-immigrant sentiment that has flared up, and been exploited by politicians come election time. We need to understand that immigration – when done legally – is a source of strength for this country. Our diversity is a source of strength for this country. When we join together – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and native American – there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Todos somos Americanos!
Together, we can choose the future over the past.
At a time when our leadership has suffered, I have no doubts about whether we can succeed. If the United States makes its case; if we meet those who doubt us or deride us head-on; if we draw on our best tradition of standing up for those Four Freedoms – then we can shape our future instead of being shaped by it. We can renew our leadership in the hemisphere. We can win the support not just of governments, but of the people of the Americas. But only if we leave the bluster behind. Only if we are strong and steadfast; confident and consistent.
Jose Marti once wrote. "It is not enough to come to the defense of freedom with epic and intermittent efforts when it is threatened at moments that appear critical. Every moment is critical for the defense of freedom."
Every moment is critical. And this must be our moment. Freedom. Opportunity. Dignity. These are not just the values of the United States – they are the values of the Americas. They were the cause of Washington's infantry and Bolivar's cavalry; of Marti's pen and Hidalgo's church bells.
That legacy is our inheritance. That must be our cause. And now must be the time that we turn the page to a new chapter in the story of the Americas.
Des Moines, IA | May 20, 2008
You know, there is a spirit that brought us here tonight – a spirit of change, and hope, and possibility. And there are few people in this country who embody that spirit more than our friend and our champion, Senator Edward Kennedy. He has spent his life in service to this country not for the sake of glory or recognition, but because he cares – deeply, in his gut – about the causes of justice, and equality, and opportunity. So many of us here have benefited in some way or another because of the battles he's waged, and some of us are here because of them.
We know he is not well right now, but we also know that he's a fighter. And as he takes on this fight, let us lift his spirits tonight by letting Ted Kennedy know that we are thinking of him, that we are praying for him, that we are standing with him, and that we will be fighting with him every step of the way.
Fifteen months ago, in the depths of winter, it was in this great state where we took the first steps of an unlikely journey to change America.
The skeptics predicted we wouldn't get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out.
But the people of Iowa had a different idea.
From the very beginning, you knew that this journey wasn't about me or any of the other candidates in this race. It's about whether this country – at this defining moment – will continue down the same road that has failed us for so long, or whether we will seize this opportunity to take a different path – to forge a different future for the country we love.
That is the question that sent thousands upon thousands of you to high school gyms and VFW halls; to backyards and front porches; to steak fries and JJ dinners, where you spoke about what that future would look like.
You spoke of an America where working families don't have to file for bankruptcy just because a child gets sick; where they don't lose their home because some predatory lender tricks them out of it; where they don't have to sit on the sidelines of the global economy because they couldn't afford the cost of a college education. You spoke of an America where our parents and grandparents don't spend their retirement in poverty because some CEO dumped their pension – an America where we don't just value wealth, but the work and the workers who create it.
You spoke of an America where we don't send our sons and daughters on tour after tour of duty to a war that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars but has not made us safer. You spoke of an America where we match the might of our military with the strength of our diplomacy and the power of our ideals – a nation that is still the beacon of all that is good and all that is possible for humankind.
You spoke of a future where the politics we have in Washington finally reflect the values we hold as Americans – the values you live by here in Iowa: common sense and honesty; generosity and compassion; decency and responsibility. These values don't belong to one class or one region or even one party – they are the values that bind us together as one country.
That is the country I saw in the faces of crowds that would stretch far into the horizon of our heartland – faces of every color, of every age – faces I see here tonight. You are Democrats who are tired of being divided; Republicans who no longer recognize the party that runs Washington; Independents who are hungry for change. You are the young people who've been inspired for the very first time and those not-so-young folks who've been inspired for the first time in a long time. You are veterans and church-goers; sportsmen and students; farmers and factory workers; teachers and business owners who have varied backgrounds and different traditions, but the same simple dreams for your children's future.
Many of you have been disappointed by politics and politicians more times than you can count. You've seen promises broken and good ideas drown in the sea of influence, and point-scoring, and petty bickering that has consumed Washington. And you've been told over and over and over again to be cynical, and doubtful, and even fearful about the possibility that things can ever be different.
And yet, in spite of all the doubt and disappointment – or perhaps because of it – you came out on a cold winter's night in numbers that this country has never seen, and you stood for change. And because you did, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And tonight, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
The road here has been long, and that is partly because we've traveled it with one of the most formidable candidates to ever run for this office. In her thirty-five years of public service, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has never given up on her fight for the American people, and tonight I congratulate her on her victory in Kentucky. We have had our disagreements during this campaign, but we all admire her courage, her commitment and her perseverance. No matter how this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and yours will come of age.
Some may see the millions upon millions of votes cast for each of us as evidence that our party is divided, but I see it as proof that we have never been more energized and united in our desire to take this country in a new direction. More than anything, we need this unity and this energy in the months to come, because while our primary has been long and hard-fought, the hardest and most important part of our journey still lies ahead.
We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam War hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party.
But this year's Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, and that is the contest John McCain won. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans that once bothered Senator McCain's conscience are now his only economic policy. The Bush health care plan that only helps those who are already healthy and wealthy is now John McCain's answer to the 47 million Americans without insurance and the millions more who can't pay their medical bills. The Bush Iraq policy that asks everything of our troops and nothing of Iraqi politicians is John McCain's policy too, and so is the fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in recent history. The lobbyists who ruled George Bush's Washington are now running John McCain's campaign, and they actually had the nerve to say that the American people won't care about this. Talk about out of touch!
I will leave it up to Senator McCain to explain to the American people whether his policies and positions represent long-held convictions or Washington calculations, but the one thing they don't represent is change.
Change is a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth by cutting taxes for middle-class families, and senior citizens, and struggling homeowners; a tax code that rewards businesses that create good jobs here in America instead of the corporations that ship them overseas. That's what change is.
Change is a health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants; that brings down premiums for every family who needs it; that stops insurance companies from discriminating and denying coverage to those who need it most.
Change is an energy policy that doesn't rely on buddying up to the Saudi Royal Family and then begging them for oil – an energy policy that puts a price on pollution and makes the oil companies invest their record profits in clean, renewable sources of energy that will create five million new jobs and leave our children a safer planet. That's what change is.
Change is giving every child a world-class education by recruiting an army of new teachers with better pay and more support; by promising four years of tuition to any American willing to serve their community and their country; by realizing that the best education starts with parents who turn off the TV, and take away the video games, and read to our children once in awhile.
Change is ending a war that we never should've started and finishing a war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan that we never should've ignored. Change is facing the threats of the twenty-first century not with bluster, or fear-mongering, or tough talk, but with tough diplomacy, and strong alliances, and confidence in the ideals that have made this nation the last, best hope of Earth. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy.
That is what change is.
That is the choice in this election.
The same question that first led us to Iowa fifteen months ago is the one that has brought us back here tonight; it is the one we will debate from Washington to Florida, from New Hampshire to New Mexico – the question of whether this country, at this moment, will keep doing what we've been doing for four more years, or whether we will take that different path. It is more of the same versus change. It is the past versus the future. It has been asked and answered by generations before us, and now it is our turn to choose.
We will face our share of difficult and uncertain days in the journey ahead. The other side knows they have embraced yesterday's policies and so they will also embrace yesterday's tactics to try and change the subject. They will play on our fears and our doubts and our divisions to distract us from what matters to you and your future.
Well they can take the low road if they want, but it will not lead this country to a better place. And it will not work in this election. It won't work because you won't let it. Not this time. Not this year.
My faith in the decency, and honesty, and generosity of the American people is not based on false hope or blind optimism, but on what I have lived and what I have seen in this very state.
For in the darkest days of this campaign, when we were dismissed by all the polls and all the pundits, I would come to Iowa and see that there was something happening here that the world did not yet understand.
It's what led high school and college students to give up their vacations to stuff envelopes and knock on doors, and why grandparents have spent all their afternoons making phone calls to perfect strangers. It's what led men and women who can barely pay the bills to dig into their savings and write five dollar checks and ten dollar checks, and why young people from all over this country have left their friends and their families for a job that offers little pay and less sleep.
Change is coming to America.
It's the spirit that sent the first patriots to Lexington and Concord and led the defenders of freedom to light the way north on an Underground Railroad. It's what sent my grandfather's generation to beachheads in Normandy, and women to Seneca Falls, and workers to picket lines and factory fences. It's what led all those young men and women who saw beatings and billy clubs on their television screens to leave their homes, and get on buses, and march through the streets of Selma and Montgomery – black and white, rich and poor.
Change is coming to America.
It's what I saw all those years ago on the streets of Chicago when I worked as an organizer – that in the face of joblessness, and hopelessness, and despair, a better day is still possible if there are people willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it. That's what I've seen here in Iowa. That's what is happening in America – our journey may be long, our work will be great, but we know in our hearts we are ready for change, we are ready to come together, and in this election, we are ready to believe again. Thank you Iowa, and may God Bless America.
Warren, MI | May 14, 2008
Earlier today, I went for a tour of the Chrysler stamping plant in Sterling Heights, and I listened to folks tell me about how hard it is to get by in this economy. And the record oil prices mean that it's even harder for automakers and autoworkers - especially at a time when they're struggling to meet the demands of a 21st Century economy.
Since the beginning of this year, thousands of Chrysler workers have lost their jobs. The entire industry has shed 300,000 jobs in the past eight years - about a third of which were lost in Michigan. That's hundreds of thousands of workers who will no longer be able to count on a paycheck to pay the rising costs of health care and college; gas and groceries. And those who are lucky enough to avoid getting laid off are still feeling the pressures of restructuring.
Not too far from here, at American Axle, UAW members have gone on strike to fight for good wages, and good benefits, and a decent standard of living. These are things that all hardworking families should expect and that UAW members deserve, and we stand in solidarity with the folks on the picket lines, and the families impacted by this strike.
Their struggle is part of a larger struggle that's being waged not just in Michigan, but all across the country. It's a struggle to ensure that we have good manufacturing jobs so American workers can raise a family, have health care when they need it, put their children through college, and retire with dignity and security. They're common hopes, modest dreams, but they're slipping out of reach for too many families.
Now, a big part of the reason autoworkers are struggling on the factory floor is because of decisions that were made in the boardroom. Rather than invest in the fuel-efficient cars of the future, auto executives invested in the SUVs and large trucks that may have helped meet a rising demand, but that essentially guaranteed that they would be outpaced by foreign competitors and that the industry's long-term problems would be harder to solve.
But American automakers have been showing leadership in recent years. Ford has now tied Toyota in the quality of the cars they're making, and they're spending more on R&D than nearly any other company in the world. Chrysler is working to develop a system that integrates electric motors with a fixed-gear transmission. And GM is releasing an average of one new hybrid model every three months for the next two years. So we're certainly taking steps in the right direction.
But we must do more. And when I'm President, we will. We won't just support the autoworkers in Michigan who built the auto industry, and keep it strong in good times and bad. And we won't just revive and strengthen our automakers. We'll revive and strengthen all of American manufacturing. These have been a disastrous eight years for our manufacturers. We've lost nearly 4 million good-paying jobs, including hundreds of thousands in Michigan, and more than 36,000 manufacturers have closed their doors. We can't afford to continue down this path. Manufacturing supports one in six American jobs - jobs that pay more and offer better benefits than other jobs - and we all have a stake in saving them.
It's time to recapture the spirit of innovation that has always fueled America's economic success. It's time we had an economy that was driven not just by foreign debt, but by the power of America's imagination. It's time to tap the ingenuity of engineers and entrepreneurs, policy experts and working folks to meet the challenges of our time.
That's what this election is all about. So while this is a moment of challenge, it's also a moment of opportunity. And the question you'll face in November is which candidate can lead America to seize it.
Now, when John McCain came to Michigan in January and said that we couldn't bring all these jobs back to America, he was right. But where he's wrong is in suggesting that there's nothing we can do to replace those jobs or create new ones. Where he's wrong is in not offering new solutions or economic policies that are different from what George Bush has given us for eight long years. That's wrong. That's giving up. And that's not what this country is about.
I won't stand here and tell you that we'll be able to stop every job from going overseas or bring every job back. But I will tell you that we can end the Bush-McCain policy of giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas, and we can start giving those tax breaks to companies that create good-paying jobs right here in America. Instead of opposing job training similar to what's being offered at M-Tech, like John McCain has, we can make sure every American has the skills to compete in the global economy. We don't have to stand idly by while foreign competitors outpace us in making the cars of the future. I'm running for President to make sure that the cars of the future are made where they've always been made - right here in Michigan. Because the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America's future - and I believe that's a fight this country will win.
And so today, I'm announcing a manufacturing agenda that will lift up hardworking families, strengthen innovative companies, and foster our common prosperity. The first part of this agenda is investing in clean energy - because that isn't just how we'll get gas prices under control, combat climate change, and free ourselves from the tyranny of oil; it's also how we'll expand American manufacturing, create quality jobs, and grow our economy.
That's why I'll invest $150 billion over the next ten years in the green energy sector. This will create up to five million new green jobs - and those are jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. And I'll be a President who finally keeps the promise that's made year after year after year by providing domestic automakers with the funding they need to retool their factories and make fuel-efficient and alternative fuel cars. My own state of Illinois is home to the oldest, continually operating Ford assembly plant outside Michigan, so I understand why it's so important to bring our auto industry into the 21st Century. And that's what we'll do when I'm President.
Here's what else we'll do. We'll invest $10 billion a year in creating a Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund that will meet a critical need. Today, 85% of North America's automotive research is done right here in Michigan. But too often, breakthrough technologies that are invented in America end up getting built overseas because of the cost of getting these new technologies commercialized. This government-backed fund will help solve this problem by creating an initiative right here in Michigan that will accelerate the development and deployment of cutting-edge vehicle technologies. To take one example, this fund will help American companies build batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles so we don't have to buy them from abroad. That's how we'll make sure American automakers continue to lead the world, and that's how we'll make sure that American manufacturers don't just survive, but actually thrive in this century.
The second part of my agenda is making sure that manufacturers are getting the support they need from Washington. Here in Michigan, you've got the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, a state initiative to help businesses with the most innovative proposals create new products and jobs in this state. I believe that's an approach we need to replicate across the country. And that's what I'll do as President by creating an Advanced Manufacturing Fund that will invest in innovation and job creation in places that have been hard hit by the decline in manufacturing.
We'll also make the research and development tax credit permanent so we can encourage companies to do their research and create jobs right here in America. And we'll stop slashing funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and start doubling it. This program helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs in 2006 alone, and has been proven to increase the productivity of small and midsize manufacturers by up to 16%. That's the kind of smart investment that will help us rebuild American manufacturing and make America more competitive.
The third thing we'll do is invest in America's long-term competitiveness by putting a college degree within reach for all Americans and by helping community colleges like Macomb develop associate degree programs in green technology to help make sure the next generation of workers have the skills they need to build the cars of the future. And we'll finally solve our health care crisis once and for all. This is a crisis that's not only leaving 47 million Americans without health insurance and millions more struggling to pay rising costs. It's also hampering our economic competitiveness. We've all heard how health care accounts for about $1500 of every car that's made in America.
We have to change that. That's why unlike John McCain, I have a universal health care plan. It's a plan that will cut health care costs by up to $2500 per family per year and reduce costs for business and their workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses and conditions. And we're not going to do it twenty years from now, or ten years from now - we're going to do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States.
Finally, if we want to fight for manufacturers here at home, we have to fight for them around the world. Now, I believe in trade, but I also believe that for America to compete and win in the global economy, trade has to work for all Americans. That means making sure that our workers are competing on a level playing field, and that countries like China aren't breaking the rules and putting American workers at a disadvantage. Fighting for our workers isn't bad for business; it's good for our economy. And it's how we'll make sure that the costs and benefits of our global economy are being shared more fairly.
So the American people will have a clear choice in November when I'm the nominee - it's a choice between more of the same failed Bush policies that have done nothing but harm to American manufacturing over the last eight years; and real change that will help write a new chapter in the story of American manufacturing. For the sake of our families, our economy, and our leadership in the world, we have to renew the promise of American manufacturing.
Charleston, WV | May 12, 2008
I want to thank Senator Rockefeller, not only for that generous introduction, but for his friendship and support in this campaign. I want to thank Secretary Richard Danzig, Admiral John Natham, and General Jim Smith for being here with us today and for their distinguished record of service to our country.
And I want to thank the people of West Virginia - particularly those who have worn the uniform of our country. More of you are veterans here than in almost any other state in the nation. So many Guard members from this very armory have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on tour after tour, year after year. And that means there are more West Virginians who've had to say goodbye to these heroes; who've borne the burdens of their absence in ways that are often immeasurable - an empty chair at the dinner table or another Mother's Day where mom is some place far away. Your sacrifice and the sacrifice of your loved ones is immense, and it must never be forgotten.
There is an election here tomorrow. I'm honored that some of you will support me, and I understand that many more here in West Virginia will probably support Senator Clinton. But when it's over, what will unify as Democrats - what must unify us as Americans - is an unyielding commitment to the men and women who've served this nation and an unshakable fidelity to the ideals for which they've risked their lives.
Without that commitment, many of us wouldn't be here today. I am one of those people. My grandfather - Stanley Dunham - enlisted after Pearl Harbor and went on to march in Patton's Army. My grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line while he was gone, and my mother was born at Fort Leavenworth. When he returned, it was to a country that gave him the chance to college on the GI Bill; to buy his first home with a loan from the FHA; to move his family west, all the way to Hawaii, where he and my grandmother helped raise me. Today, my grandfather is buried in the Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where 776 victims of Pearl Harbor are laid to rest.
I knew him when he was older. But whenever I meet young men and women along the campaign trail who are serving in the military today, I think about what my grandfather was like when he enlisted - a fresh-faced man of twenty-three, with a heart laugh and an easy smile.
These sons and daughters of America are the best and the bravest among us. They are a part of an unbroken line of heroes who overthrew a King for the sake of an ideal; who freed the slaves and faced down fascism; who fought for freedom in Korea and Vietnam, from Kuwait to the Balkans - who still wake up every day to face down the gravest dangers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world.
When our troops go into battle, they serve no faction or party; they represent no race or region. They are simply Americans. They serve and fight and bleed together out of loyalty not just to a place on a map or a certain kind of people, but to a set of ideals that we have been striving for since the first shots rang out at Lexington and Concord - the idea that America could be governed not by men, but by laws; that we could be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we could be free to say what we want and write what want and worship as we please; that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs.
Allegiance to these ideals has always been at the core of American patriotism - it's what unites a country of so many different opinions and beliefs. It's why some of us may disagree on our decision to start this war in Iraq, but all of us stand united in our support for the brave men and women who wage it. That's how it should be. But it's not how it's always been.
One of the saddest episodes in our history was the degree to which returning vets from Vietnam were shunned, demonized and neglected by some because they served in an unpopular war. Too many of those who opposed the war in Vietnam chose to blame not only the leaders who ordered the mission, but the young men who simply answered their country's call. Four decades later, the sting of that injustice is a wound that has never fully healed, and one that should never be repeated.
The young men and women who choose to serve are defending the very rights and freedoms that allow Americans to speak out against government actions we oppose. They deserve our admiration, respect and enduring gratitude.
At the same time, we must never forget that honoring this service and upholding these ideals requires more than saluting our veterans as they march by on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It requires marching with them for the care and benefits they have earned It requires standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our veterans and their families after the guns fall silent and the cameras are turned off. At a time when we're facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War, the true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they've served us.
We know that over the last eight years, we've already fallen short of meeting this test. We all learned about the deplorable conditions that were discovered at places like Fort Bragg and Walter Reed. We've all walked by a veteran whose home is now a cardboard box on a street corner in the richest nation on Earth. We've all heard about what it's like to navigate the broken bureaucracy of the VA - the impossibly long lines, or the repeated calls for help that get you nothing more than an answering machine. Just a few weeks ago, an 89-year-old World War II veteran from South Carolina told his family, "No matter what I apply for at the VA, they turn me down." The next day, he walked outside of an Outpatient Clinic in Greenville and took his own life.
How can we let this happen? How is that acceptable in the United States of America? The answer is, it's not. It's an outrage. And it's a betrayal - a betrayal - of the ideals that we ask our troops to risk their lives for.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Not in this country. Not if we decide that this time will be different. There are many aspects of this war that have gone inalterably wrong, but caring for our veterans is one thing we can still get right. When I arrived in the Senate, I sought out a seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee so I could fight to give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve. We fought to make sure that the claims of disabled veterans in Illinois and other states were being heard fairly, and we forced the VA to conduct an unprecedented outreach campaign to disabled veterans who receive lower-than-average benefits. I passed laws to get homeless veterans off the streets and prevent at-risk veterans from getting there in the first place. I led a bipartisan effort to improve outpatient facilities at places like Walter Reed, and slash red tape, and reform the disability process - because recovering troops should go to the front of the line, and they shouldn't have to fight to get there. I passed laws to give family members health care while they care for injured troops, and to provide family members with a year of job protection, so they never have to face a choice between caring for a loved one and keeping a job.
But there is so much more work that we need to do in this country.
It starts with being honest about the sacrifices that our brave men and women are making. For years, this Administration has refused to count all of our casualties in uniform. In Iraq alone, tens of thousands of troops who were injured or fell ill have not been counted in our casualty numbers, going against the military's own standards from past wars. It's time to stop hiding the full cost of this war. It's time to honor the full measure of sacrifice of our troops, and to prepare for the cost of their care.
That's why I've pledged to build a 21st century VA as President. It means no more red tape - it's time to give every service-member electronic copies of medical and service records upon discharge. It means no more shortfalls - we'll fully fund VA health care, and add more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas. It means no more delays - we'll pass on-time budgets. It means no more means-testing - it's time to allow every veteran into the VA system. And it means we'll have a simple principle for veterans sleeping on our streets: zero tolerance. As President, I'll build on the work I started in the Senate and expand housing vouchers, and launch a new supportive services housing program to prevent at-risk veterans and their families from sliding into homelessness.
I'll also build on the work I did in the Senate to confront one of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - PTSD. We have to understand that for far too many troops and their families, the war doesn't end when they come home. Just the other day our own government's top psychiatric researcher said that because of inadequate mental health care, the number of suicides among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may actually exceed the number of combat deaths. Think about that. Think about how only half of the returning soldiers with PTSD receive the treatment they need. Think of how many we turn away - of how many we let fall through the cracks. We have to do better than this.
In the Senate, I've helped lead a bipartisan effort to stop the unfair practice of kicking out troops who suffer from them. And when I'm President, we'll enhance mental health screening and treatment at all levels: from enlistment, to deployment, to reentry into civilian life. We also need more mental health professionals, more training to recognize signs and to reject the stigma of seeking care. And we need to dramatically improve screening and treatment for the other signature injury of the war, Traumatic Brain Injury. That's why I passed measures in the Senate to increase screening for these injuries, and that's why I'll establish clearer standards of care as President.
We have called on our troops and their families for so much during these last years, but we haven't always issued that call responsibly. Yes, we need to restore twelve month Army deployments, but we also need to restore adequate training and time at home between those deployments. My wife, Michelle, met with Army spouses the other day in North Carolina who told her about the toll it takes to watch your loved one serve tour after tour of duty with little to no time off in between. And they told her something we all need to remember: "We don't just deploy our troops overseas, we deploy families." That's why we also need to provide more counseling and resources to help families cope with multiple tours.
And when our loved ones do come home, it is time for the United States of America to offer this generation of returning heroes the same thanks we offered that earlier, Greatest Generation - by giving every veteran the same opportunity that my grandfather had under the GI Bill.
There is no reason we shouldn't pass the 21st Century GI Bill that is being debated in Congress right now. It was introduced by my friend Senator Jim Webb, a Marine who served as Navy Secretary under President Ronald Reagan.. His plan has widespread support from Republicans and Democrats. It would provide every returning veteran with a real chance to afford a college education, and it would not harm retention.
I have great respect for John McCain's service to this country and I know he loves it dearly and honors those who serve. But he is one of the few Senators of either party who oppose this bill because he thinks it's too generous. I couldn't disagree more. At a time when the skyrocketing cost of tuition is pricing thousands of Americans out of a college education, we should be doing everything we can to give the men and women who have risked their lives for this country the chance to pursue the American Dream.
The brave Americans who fight today believe deeply in this country. And no matter how many you meet, or how many stories of heroism you hear, every encounter reminds that they are truly special. That through their service, they are living out the ideals that stir so many of us as Americas - pride, duty, and sacrifice.
Some of the most inspiring are those you meet at places like Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They are young men and women who may have lost a limb or even their ability to take care of themselves, but they will never lose the pride they feel for their country. They're not interested in self-pity, but yearn to move forward with their lives. And it's this classically American optimism that makes you realize the quality of person we have serving in the United States Armed Forces.
This, after all, is what led them to wear the uniform in the first place - their unwavering belief in the idea of America. The idea that no matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a place where anything is possible; where anyone can make it; where we look out for each other, and take care of each other; where we rise and fall as one nation - as one people. It's an idea that's worth fighting for - an idea for which so many Americans have given that last full measure of devotion.
I can still remember the day that we laid my grandfather to rest. In a cemetery lined with the graves of Americans who have sacrificed for our country, we heard the solemn notes of Taps and the crack of guns fired in salute; we watched as a folded flag was handed to my grandmother and my grandfather was laid to rest. It was a nation's final act of service and gratitude to Stanley Dunham - an America that stood by my grandfather when he took off the uniform, and never left his side.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. But I also like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."
There is no doubt that we are a nation that is deeply proud of where we live. But it is now our generation's task to live in a way that Stanley Dunham lived; to live the way that those heroes at Walter Reed have lived; the way that all those men and women who put on this nation's uniform live each and every day. It is now our task to live so that America will be proud of us. That is true test of patriotism - the test that all of us must meet in the days and years to come. I have no doubt that this nation is up to the challenge. Thank you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Beaverton, Oregon | May 09, 2008
It's great to be back in Oregon. Over the last fifteen months, we've travelled to every corner of the United States. Now I know that if you listen to Washington or pay attention to the pundits, you hear a lot about how divided we are as a people. But that's not what I've found as I've travelled across this great country.
Everywhere I go, I've been impressed by the values and hopes that we share. In big cities and small towns; among men and women; young and old; black, white, and brown - Americans share a faith in simple dreams. A job with wages that can support a family. Health care that we can count on and afford. A retirement that is dignified and secure. Education and opportunity for our kids. Common hopes. American dreams.
That's why this election is so important. Because for far too many Americans, those hopes and dreams are slipping away. We just came through the first period of sustained economic growth since World War II that saw incomes drop. People are working harder for less. You're paying more for gas, and groceries, and tuition. Millions of families are facing foreclosure. We've already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs this year.
To be sure, some of these problems are a result of changes in our economy that no one can control. But instead of helping, Washington's policies have made it worse.. Instead of expanding opportunity for working people, we've tried to grow our economy from the top down, and eventually that pain trickled up. Instead of making sure that people can live their dreams on Main Street, we've tilted the scales for special interests and Wall Street. Instead of saying "we're all in this together" as Americans, Washington has sent a message that says - "you're on your own."
John McCain has served his country with honor, and I respect that service. But it was dead wrong when he said recently that he thinks our economy has made "great progress" under George Bush. Is there anyone outside of Washington D.C, who could truly believe that? Do you? Senator McCain is running for President to double down on George Bush's failed policies. I am running to change them, and that will be the fundamental difference in this election when I am the Democratic nominee for President.
We have a difference on taxes. John McCain wants to continue George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; I want to give a tax cut to working people. I admired Senator McCain when he said he could not "in good conscience" support the Bush tax cuts. But now, as the Republican nominee, he's fully embraced them. He wants to give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest Americans who don't need them and didn't ask for them while working people are struggling. And for all his talk about fiscal responsibility, he's proposed $400 billion in tax cuts without any word about how he'll pay for him. That's exactly the kind of attitude that has shifted the burden on to the middle class, and mortgaged our children's future on a mountain of debt.
I think it's time to restore fairness and responsibility to our tax code. We need to reward work - not just wealth. We need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and put a tax cut in the pockets of middle class Americans. That's why I've proposed a "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 for workers, and $1,000 for working families. This will cut taxes for 150 million Americans. It will help you deal with rising costs, and give our economy a boost by easing the burden on Main Street.
We have a difference on health care. John McCain wants to continue a George Bush approach that only takes care of the healthy and the wealthy; that allows insurance companies to discriminate and deny coverage to those Americans who need it most. This is exactly the kind of approach that has left out tens of millions of Americans. It's why you are struggling with rising costs. And it's why we have failed to solve our health care crisis year after year after year.
I think it's time to finally make health care affordable and accessible for every American. We need to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies. We need to bring Americans together. And we need to pass a plan that lowers every family's premiums, and gives every uninsured American the same kind of coverage that Members of Congress give themselves.
We have a difference on gas prices. John McCain has embraced a gas tax gimmick that - when it's said and done - will save you less than thirty dollars this summer. This is a classic Washington fix that's more about getting John McCain through an election than solving your problems. It will put more money in the pockets of the oil companies. It's bad for our environment. And it won't bring own gas prices over the long term - most economists think it will send those prices up.
I believe we owe the American people the truth. That's why my plan to lower gas prices raises fuel efficiency standards on cars; invests in alternative energy to end our addiction to oil; and creates millions of new Green Jobs while saving our planet in the bargain. That's the kind of change we need in Washington.
We have a fundamental difference on our priorities for the presidency. John McCain wants to continue George Bush's war in Iraq, losing thousands of lives and spending tens of billions of dollars a month to fight a war that isn't making us safer. I want to end this war. I want to invest that money in America - in our roads and bridges and ports. And I want to invest in millions of Green Jobs, so that we finally develop renewable energy, end our addiction to oil, bring those gas prices down, and save our planet in the bargain.
There will be real differences on the ballot in November. And that's what elections should be about. John McCain will stand with Washington's tried and failed approaches of the past; I will stand with the American people on behalf of a new direction for working people. Because I believe it's time for America to once again be a place where you can make it if you try. I believe it's time for Washington to work for your hopes, for your dreams. That's the choice I'll offer in this campaign. And that's what I'll do every day as President of the United States.
Raleigh, NC | May 06, 2008
You know, some were saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election. But today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, DC.
I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory in the state of Indiana. And I want to thank the people of North Carolina for giving us a victory in a big state, a swing state, and a state where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
When this campaign began, Washington didn't give us much of a chance. But because you came out in the bitter cold, and knocked on doors, and enlisted your friends and neighbors in this cause; because you stood up to the cynics, and the doubters, and the nay-sayers when we were up and when we were down; because you still believe that this is our moment, and our time, for change – tonight we stand less than two hundred delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
More importantly, because of you, we have seen that it's possible to overcome the politics of division and distraction; that it's possible to overcome the same old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems. We've seen that the American people aren't looking for more spin or more gimmicks, but honest answers about the challenges we face. That's what you've accomplished in this campaign, and that's how we'll change this country together.
This has been one of the longest, most closely fought contests in history. And that's partly because we have such a formidable opponent in Senator Hillary Clinton. Tonight, many of the pundits have suggested that this party is inalterably divided – that Senator Clinton's supporters will not support me, and that my supporters will not support her.
Well I'm here tonight to tell you that I don't believe it. Yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win. But ultimately, this race is not about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John McCain. This election is about you – the American people – and whether we will have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter future.
This primary season may not be over, but when it is, we will have to remember who we are as Democrats – that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson; of Roosevelt and Kennedy; and that we are at our best when we lead with principle; when we lead with conviction; when we summon an entire nation around a common purpose – a higher purpose. This fall, we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party, united by a common vision for this country. Because we all agree that at this defining moment in history – a moment when we're facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril – we can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush's third term. We need change in America.
The woman I met in Indiana who just lost her job, and her pension, and her insurance when the plant where she worked at her entire life closed down – she can't afford four more years of tax breaks for corporations like the one that shipped her job overseas. She needs us to give tax breaks to companies that create good jobs here in America. She can't afford four more years of tax breaks for CEOs like the one who walked away from her company with a multi-million dollar bonus. She needs middle-class tax relief that will help her pay the skyrocketing price of groceries, and gas, and college tuition. That's why I'm running for President.
The college student I met in Iowa who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill – she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and the wealthy; that allows insurance companies to discriminate and deny coverage to those Americans who need it most. She needs us to stand up to those insurance companies and pass a plan that lowers every family's premiums and gives every uninsured American the same kind of coverage that Members of Congress give themselves. That's why I'm running for President.
The mother in Wisconsin who gave me a bracelet inscribed with the name of the son she lost in Iraq; the families who pray for their loved ones to come home; the heroes on their third and fourth and fifth tour of duty – they can't afford four more years of a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged. They can't afford four more years of our veterans returning to broken-down barracks and substandard care. They need us to end a war that isn't making us safer. They need us to treat them with the care and respect they deserve. That's why I'm running for President.
The man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one – he can't afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies; a policy that's not only keeping gas at record prices, but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet in the process. He doesn't need four more years of Washington policies that sound good, but don't solve the problem. He needs us to take a permanent holiday from our oil addiction by making the automakers raise their fuel standards, corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future. That's the change we need. And that's why I'm running for President.
The people I've met in small towns and big cities across this country understand that government can't solve all our problems – and we don't expect it to. We believe in hard work. We believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance.
But we also believe that we have a larger responsibility to one another as Americans – that America is a place – that America is the place – where you can make it if you try. That no matter how much money you start with or where you come from or who your parents are, opportunity is yours if you're willing to reach for it and work for it. It's the idea that while there are few guarantees in life, you should be able to count on a job that pays the bills; health care for when you need it; a pension for when you retire; an education for your children that will allow them to fulfill their God-given potential. That's the America we believe in. That's the America I know.
This is the country that gave my grandfather a chance to go to college on the GI Bill when he came home from World War II; a country that gave him and my grandmother the chance to buy their first home with a loan from the government.
This is the country that made it possible for my mother – a single parent who had to go on food stamps at one point – to send my sister and me to the best schools in the country on scholarships.
This is the country that allowed my father-in-law – a city worker at a South Side water filtration plant – to provide for his wife and two children on a single salary. This is a man who was diagnosed at age thirty with multiple sclerosis – who relied on a walker to get himself to work. And yet, every day he went, and he labored, and he sent my wife and her brother to one of the best colleges in the nation. It was a job that didn't just give him a paycheck, but a sense of dignity and self-worth. It was an America that didn't just reward wealth, but the work and the workers who created it.
Somewhere along the way, between all the bickering and the influence-peddling and the game-playing of the last few decades, Washington and Wall Street have lost touch with these values. And while I honor John McCain's service to his country, his ideas for America are out of touch with these values. His plans for the future are nothing more than the failed policies of the past. And his plan to win in November appears to come from the very same playbook that his side has used time after time in election after election.
Yes, we know what's coming. We've seen it already. The same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas. The same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy in the hope that the media will play along. The attempts to play on our fears and exploit our differences to turn us against each other for pure political gain – to slice and dice this country into Red States and Blue States; blue-collar and white-collar; white and black, and brown.
This is what they will do – no matter which one of us is the nominee. The question, then, is not what kind of campaign they'll run, it's what kind of campaign we will run. It's what we will do to make this year different. I didn't get into race thinking that I could avoid this kind of politics, but I am running for President because this is the time to end it.
We will end it this time not because I'm perfect – I think by now this campaign has reminded all of us of that. We will end it not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the other side, because that will just lead us down the same path of polarization and gridlock.
We will end it by telling the truth – forcefully, repeatedly, confidently – and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change.
Because that's how we've always changed this country – not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up; when you – the American people – decide that the stakes are too high and the challenges are too great.
The other side can label and name-call all they want, but I trust the American people to recognize that it's not surrender to end the war in Iraq so that we can rebuild our military and go after al Qaeda's leaders. I trust the American people to understand that it's not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but our enemies – like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.
I trust the American people to realize that while we don't need big government, we do need a government that stands up for families who are being tricked out of their homes by Wall Street predators; a government that stands up for the middle-class by giving them a tax break; a government that ensures that no American will ever lose their life savings just because their child gets sick. Security and opportunity; compassion and prosperity aren't liberal values or conservative values – they're American values.
Most of all, I trust the American people's desire to no longer be defined by our differences. Because no matter where I've been in this country – whether it was the corn fields of Iowa or the textile mills of the Carolinas; the streets of San Antonio or the foothills of Georgia – I've found that while we may have different stories, we hold common hopes. We may not look the same or come from the same place, but we want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
That's why I'm in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this moment in history. I believe in our ability to perfect this union because it's the only reason I'm standing here today. And I know the promise of America because I have lived it.
It is the light of opportunity that led my father across an ocean.
It is the founding ideals that the flag draped over my grandfather's coffin stands for – it is life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It's the simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in the shadows of a shuttered steel mill on the South Side of Chicago – that in this country, justice can be won against the greatest of odds; hope can find its way back to the darkest of corners; and when we are told that we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice – yes we can.
So don't ever forget that this election is not about me, or any candidate. Don't ever forget that this campaign is about you – about your hopes, about your dreams, about your struggles, about securing your portion of the American Dream.
Don't ever forget that we have a choice in this country – that we can choose not to be divided; that we can choose not to be afraid; that we can still choose this moment to finally come together and solve the problems we've talked about all those other years in all those other elections.
This time can be different than all the rest. This time we can face down those who say our road is too long; that our climb is too steep; that we can no longer achieve the change that we seek. This is our time to answer the call that so many generations of Americans have answered before – by insisting that by hard work, and by sacrifice, the American Dream will endure. Thank you, and may God Bless the United States of America.