America Speechless; President Barack Obama Speaks



Presidential Inauguration 2009 – President Obama’s Full Inaugural Address – Part 1 of 3

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord..”

~ President Barack H. Obama [Inauguration Speech January 20, 2009]

There are no words to express what today means to many, to any, to you, or to me.  I cannot know what others think, or how they feel.  I have faith that each of us experiences every moment in a manner that is uniquely ours.  I do not presume to be able to articulate for others.  I barely know what is true for me on this historic occasion.  As Americans collectively stood speechless, President Barack Obama spoke.  The text of his oration overwhelmed millions.

Yet, there is more to consider than merely the United States.  Planet-wide, we are connected.  If each of us chooses, we can join forces, and walk hand-in-hand.  Fondness can flourish if only we ponder the acumen of a poet.  Elizabeth Alexander, bard of beautiful verse, enunciated welcome wisdom, on this historic occasion.  She gave voice to the lessons of love.  With profound insight she reminded the world of the need to be conscious of our connectedness.  (While I had hoped to offer her ode immediately after she shared such sweet sentiments, for now, the focus is on Barack Hussein Obama and his message.)

Eloquent and powerful prose proclaimed by the forty-fourth President of the United States, for now, is all that might be said, with the exception of one thought.  I thank you President Obama, wife Michelle, daughters Malia, and Sasha for your commitment to this country and the world.  I appreciate your shared willingness to serve and secure a prosperous path for the entire world.  I am grateful Ms Robinson for the warmth you bring to the White House.  You have taught the children, yours, your daughter’s, and as a model, every parent well.  Americans, I cannot tell you how much I value you all, everyone.

Please peruse the text of Barack Obama’s speech.  Ponder, and perchance, feel the pride of a nation too long divided, which on January 20, 2009 came together to celebrate a future most never imagined.


Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

References for a new reality . . .

“I Have a Dream”



Martin Luther King “I have a dream

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, while not the actual anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s birth date, is the occasion on which we commemorate the man who reminded all of us of our greatness.  Reverend King reflected; we are human beings.  When we are united, we can, and will accomplish grand feats.  We can overcome injustice, hatred, and abuses of a perceived power.  As a country, we need not continue on the path of prejudice.  A dream of opportunity for all can be realized if we work to right the wrongs of the past that, at the time of his speech, and today, still live.  In front of hundreds of thousands, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior cried out for an ethical, economic, and emotional equity.

The revered Reverend recounted a history that in nineteen hundred and sixty three haunted humanity.  In a nation founded on liberty and justice for all, for centuries, men, women, and children rose up on the back of slaves.  He recalled the Emancipation Proclamation, that was intended to set Black people free.  As Doctor King stood in the symbolic shadow of a President he characterized as a great American, Abraham Lincoln he reflected on the doctrine meant to end the discrimination that allows for such captivity.  There in Washington District of Columbia, on that hot August day, Martin Luther King spoke of his dream, and a promise not yet fulfilled.

The pledge, a former President committed to, was then, five score years after it was avowed, not honored.  Late in the twentieth century, Reverend King had seen in the streets of Alabama, understood, on the curvaceous slopes of California, on the red hills of Georgia, on every mound and molehill of Mississippi, in the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, and on mighty mountains of New York, freedom had not rung for Black Americans.

Hence, this son, grandson of a Pastor knew; he, his Black brothers, sisters,  and all people could no longer remain silent,  Doctor King worked towards an end to segregation.  He endeavored to achieve enactments of Civil Rights laws.  He helped create a coalition of conscience.  The Reverend inspired many.  Yet, he felt a need to do more.  He had a dream.

On this summer day, unexpectedly, and advised against such high-minded rhetoric  Martin Luther King could not restrain himself.  He felt “the fierce urgency of now.”  Thus, he mounted the platform, built on the backs of his ancestors, slaves, and revealed a reality that for too long was not mentioned publicly.  The Reverend stood strong and spoke for the sons of former slaves, and their son, all of whom were stationed, by virtue of their race in an invisible bondage.  King proclaimed what these men, women, and children could not say; yet, what all knew to be true.  Racial discrimination, in the land of the free and home of the brave, flourished.  

On August 28, 1963, after years of nonviolent protest, ample requests for racial equality, a cessation to prejudice, “Martin,” as those close to him called him, addressed an audience of many colors.  He acknowledged, the veracity, that we, as people, are one.  Humans, every one, are joined to the other.  As he looked out onto the Washington Mall, Civil Rights leader King recognized that some, whose skin was not dark, who may not have experienced the bigotry their brethren had, still understood the dream as he did.  

We must work together.  On that afternoon, many persons whose complexion was pink and pale, expressed they were willing.  “(W)hite brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.  They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Yet, now, two score and three years anon, as a nation, we have yet to fully honor the promissory note Abraham Lincoln bestowed upon our Black brothers and sisters.  The check Martin Luther King Junior referred to as “bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds” is not secured.  

Granted we have made progress, slight and slow.  There is still much to be done.  Tomorrow, we hope to see a beginning.  The first Black President will be sworn into office.  An African-American family will reside in the White House.  The Obama’s inspired Americans who yearn to believe that “Yes we can!”

Yet, let us not forget, one Black man, and his relations cannot, and will not, fulfill Martin Luther King’s dream.  If all men are to reach the Mountain Top, we must climb together, in every moment.  Obstacles cannot be forded by the eloquent words of our founders.  Nor could Doctor King conquer the invisible inequity that permeated a prejudice populace then.  Today, Barack Obama will not have the power to prohibit intolerance; nor can he do more than advocate for acceptance.

Change does not come from external forces.  Only we can choose to believe, as Doctor Martin Luther King did.  “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.  This is our hope,” his, yours, and mine.

Let us make our dreams come true.  Let freedom ring!  “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last!  thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Please peruse the full text of this momentous, memorable speech.  Let the words wash over you.  Breathe them in.  Let us begin to fulfill a dream too long denied.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

I Have a Dream





Obama’s Hopeful Economic Speech

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I have a dream.  I dream of a day when Americans will separate themselves from a difficult past.  I dream of a time when partisan politics will not divide us.  In my dream, I see a nation united; one in which Black children, white, Brown, yellow, and red offspring, people of any race, color, or creed will rise above their own imagined limits.  It is more than my hope, it is my vision that together, we as a nation can give birth to what others think unbelievable.  I have faith that my fellow man and I can give birth to what was not thought possible.  

We can restore what was once good, and build what will be better.  Old habits need not challenge us.  These can be the catalyst for deep and authentic change.  We need only begin.

I have a dream.  We will come together to construct the country our forefathers conceived of.  The time for internal strife has passed.  We must join as one to create a culture that cares.  

In a twenty-first century, we must not repeat the errors of the past.  We must recognize there are jobs to expand, an infrastructure to install and strengthen, a fiscal system to fix, a health care structure to heal, and most importantly children to teach well.  

I have a dream.  If we employ thoughtful policies, we will all be empowered.

I aspire to be one among many in a community respectful of our environment.  I yearn to green our homes, and clean our streets.  I trust, if we invest in our infrastructure, stable careers will come.  Jobs will continue into perpetuity if we do as we desire.

I have a dream.  Collectively, we can ensure that we will thrive on a planet, safe and sane.  We can grow enough crops to feed our people, preserve an abundant water supply.  We need not rape the land as we have, and eliminate species carelessly as we do.  We can survive if we come together with intent to do no harm; that is my dream.  Indeed, our physical, emotional and homeland security, depend on what we do now.

I have a dream, that in a country, one known for the best, we can be the best.  We need not remain mired in our differences.  These distinctions can bury us in unnecessary documentation or debate.  Disputes will assure our shared doom.  Diversity, indeed, can bring us together if we choose to unite as one people with one mission, to be strong.

We, as a country, as a people, as individuals, are more alike than dissimilar.  Each of us yearns for economic stability and success, separately, and for all.  Inside us, we understand, if my brother is hungry, I too will suffer.  We need only act on that veracity.

If you doubt this as your truth, please ponder what we have lived in recent years.  We have seen the evidence of our connectedness in the foreclosure crisis.  Most of us have come to acknowledge that my monetary value is dependent on my neighbors.

The fossil fuel predicament furthered the understanding of this truth.  My fellow citizen’s pain is mine, even at the pump.

The health care crisis also offers an apt analogy, and we, as Americans must take this to heart.  If any of us think only of ourselves, and act in accordance, then we will adopt principles that ultimately, bring us down, slowly, one at a time, until the system crumbles.  Thus, is the tale of two cities, the Wall Street and Main Street debacle.  It is time for a shift.  There is a fierce urgency to now.

I have a dream.  One day, we will recognize that the millions without adequate health care deplete our resources.  The persons whose education is inadequate hinder our own state of affairs.

I envision a world in which my brethren believe we are all connected and act as though we are.   I have a dream, that we as a country, will ponder and produce a prophecy once thought impossible.

Our President-Elect.  Barack Obama, also dreams.  He aspires, inspires, and gives us much to contemplate.

Please peruse, the Transcript of the Speech on the Economy delivered today, January 8, 2009.  Share your thoughts for a future fulfilled.


January 8, 2009

Obama’s Speech on the Economy

The following is a transcript of President-Elect Barack Obama’s speech on the economy, as prepared by Federal News Service.

President-Elect Barack Obama: (Cheers, applause.)  Thank you. Everybody be seated. Thank you very much. (Applause continues.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause continues.) Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you so much.

Let me begin by thanking George Mason University for their extraordinary hospitality and to thank all the great friends, the governors, the mayors, who are in attendance here today.

Throughout America’s history, there have been some years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare, and then there are the years that come along once in a generation, the kind that mark a clean break from a troubled past and set a new course for our nation. This is one of those years.

We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly 2 million jobs have been now lost, and on Friday we’re likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a 28-year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.

Now, I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and our standing in the world.

In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.

This crisis did not happen solely by some accident of history or normal turn of the business cycle, and we won’t get out of it by simply waiting for a better day to come or relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past. We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

For years, too many Wall Street executives made imprudent and dangerous decisions, seeking profits with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. Banks made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them, and some borrowers took advantage of cheap credit to take on debt they couldn’t afford. Politicians spent taxpayer money without wisdom or discipline and too often focused on scoring political points instead of problems they were sent here to solve. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets and our government.

Now, the very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it’s not beyond our ability to solve. Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. It will take time, perhaps many years, but we can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity.

We should never forget that our workers are still more productive than any on Earth. Our universities are still the envy of the world. We are still home to the most brilliant minds, the most creative entrepreneurs and the most advanced technology and innovation that history has ever known. And we are still the nation that has overcome great fears and improbable odds.

If we act with the urgency and seriousness that this moment requires, I know that we can do it again. That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jump- start job creation and long-term growth. It’s a plan that represents not just new policy, but a whole new approach to meeting our most urgent challenges. For if we hope to end this crisis, we must end the culture of “anything goes” that helped create it. And this change must begin in Washington. It’s time to trade old habits for a new spirit of responsibility. It is time to finally change the ways of Washington so that we can set a new and better course for America.

There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable. It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short term. But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence in our economy.

It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe.

Only government can break the cycle that are crippling our economy — where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit.

That’s why we need to act boldly and act now to reverse these cycles. That’s why we need to put money in the pockets of the American people, create new jobs, and invest in our future. That’s why we need to restart the flow of credit and restore the rules of the road that will ensure a crisis like this never happens again.

And this plan begins with — this plan must begin today, a plan I am confident will save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next few years. It is not just another public-works program; it’s a plan that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment — the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done. And that’s why we’ll invest in priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century. That’s why the overwhelming majority of the jobs created will be in the private sector, while our plan will save the public sector jobs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and others who provide vital services.

To finally spark the creation of a clean-energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills. In the process, we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced — jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.

To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years all of America’s medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. But it just won’t save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health care system.

To give our children the chance to live out their dreams in a world that’s never been more competitive, we will equip tens of thousands of schools, community colleges and public universities with 21st-century classrooms, labs and libraries. We’ll provide new computers, new technology, and new training for teachers so that students in Chicago and Boston can compete with kids in Beijing for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.

To build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America. Yes, we’ll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects, but we’ll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy. That means updating the way we get our electricity by starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation. It means expanding broadband lines across America so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world. And it means investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.

And finally, this recovery and reinvestment plan will provide immediate relief to states, workers and families who are bearing the brunt of this recession. To get people spending again, 95 percent of working families will receive a thousand-dollar tax cut, the first stage of a middle-class tax cut that I promised during the campaign and will include in our next budget. To help Americans who have lost their jobs and can’t find new ones, we’ll continue the bipartisan extension of unemployment insurance and health-care coverage to help them through this crisis. Government at every level will have to tighten its belt, but we’ll help struggling states avoid harmful budget cuts, as long as they take responsibility and use the money to maintain essential services like police, fire, education and health care.

Now, I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. Our government has already spent a good deal of money, but we haven’t yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. And that’s why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won’t just throw money at our problems; we’ll invest in what works. The true test of the policies we’ll pursue won’t be whether they’re Democratic or Republican ideas, whether they’re conservative or liberal ideas, but whether they create jobs, grow our economy, and put the American Dream within reach of the American people.

Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made transparently, and informed by independent experts wherever possible. Every American will be able to hold Washington accountable for these decisions by going online to see how and where their taxpayer dollars are being spent. And as I announced yesterday, we will launch an unprecedented effort to eliminate unwise and unnecessary spending that has never been more unaffordable for our nation and our children’s future than it is right now.

We have to make tough choices and smart investments today so that as the economy recovers, the deficits start coming down. We cannot have a solid recovery if our people and our businesses don’t have confidence that we’re getting our fiscal house in order. And that’s why our goal is not to create a slew of new government programs, but a foundation for long-term economic growth.

That also means an economic recovery plan that is free from earmarks and pet projects. I understand that every member of Congress has ideas about how to spend money, and many of these projects are worthy. They benefit local communities. But this emergency legislation must not be the vehicle for those aspirations. This must be a time when leaders in both parties put the urgent needs of our nation above our own narrow interests.

Now, this recovery plan alone will not solve all the problems that led us into this crisis. We must also work with the same sense of urgency to stabilize and repair the financial system we all depend on. That means using our full arsenal of tools to get credit flowing again to families and business, while restoring confidence in our markets. It means launching a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis so that we can keep responsible families in their homes.

It means preventing the catastrophic failure of financial institutions whose collapse could endanger the entire economy, but only with maximum protections for taxpayers and a clear understanding that government support for any company is an extraordinary action that must come with significant restrictions on the firms that receive support. And it means reforming a weak and outdated regulatory system so that we can better withstand financial shocks and better protect consumers, investors and businesses from the reckless greed and risk- taking that must never endanger our prosperity again.

No longer can we allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks. No longer can we allow special interests to put their thumbs on the economic scales. No longer can we allow the unscrupulous lending and borrowing that leads only to destructive cycles of bubble and bust.

It is time to set a new course for this economy, and that change must begin now. We should have an open and honest discussion about this recovery plan in the days ahead, but I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs; more families will lose their savings; more dreams will be deferred and denied; and our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That is not the country I know. It is not a future I accept as president of the United States. A world that depends on the strength of our economy is now watching and waiting for America to lead once more, and that is what we will do.

It will not come easy or happen overnight, and it is altogether likely that things may get worse before they get better. But that is all the more reason for Congress to act without delay. I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning.

And that is why the time has come to build a 21st-century economy in which hard work and responsibility are once again rewarded. That’s why I’m asking Congress to work with me and my team day and night, on weekends if necessary, to get the plan passed in the next few weeks. That’s why I’m calling on all Americans — Democrats and Republicans and independents — to put — to put good ideas ahead of the old ideological battles, a sense of common purpose above the same narrow partisanship, and insist that the first question each of us asks isn’t “What’s good for me?” but “What’s good for the country my children will inherit?”

More than any program or policy, it is this spirit that will enable us to confront these challenges with the same spirit that has led previous generations to face down war and depression and fear itself. And if we do — if we are able to summon that spirit again; if are able to look out for one another and listen to one another, and do our part for our nation and for posterity — then I have no doubt that, years from now, we will look back on 2009 as one of those years that marked another new and hopeful beginning for the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)

Reference a referendum on change we can believe in . . .

Yes Eddie, There is a country that can!





Watch CBS Videos Online

Obama’s Victory Speech

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It was the Friday before Election Day 2008.  The sun was low in the sky.  My spirits were also near to the ground.  As the days focused on “change,” turned to months, and near two years, I had begun to lose hope.  Too much time had passed.  The Bush Administration overturned too many laws.  In the recent past, the country had transgressed back into the future.  Others were blissful, certain a better world would come.  I was not confident.  Near an hour before, Eddie, a young man who has lived on Earth for less than a quarter of a century, said he may not vote.  He did not have faith that we, or he, were the change a country could believe in.  for Eddie, “Yes we can” equated to “No he would not.”

Eddie had lost the ability to dream.  As was true for too many Americans, the vision of what could be seemed but an illusion.  For some citizens who, decades earlier, had hoped the country could change, life had become a nightmare.  While this fine fellow may not have experienced a similar sense of dire desperation he did not aspire to do more than he had done.

Twenty-six months earlier, I accidentally discovered Eddie had never participated in an election.  On another occasion, moments after I cast a ballot during a primary campaign, I encountered the knowledgeable fellow. Then, oh so long ago, I learned Eddie had not registered to vote, ever.  When I asked him of his vote in 2006, he admitted, he did not even know an election was held.

I was fascinated, or was I frustrated.  I know not.  I am only certain that more than a year later, when I realized Eddie had submitted his application and received his voter registration card, I was overjoyed.

At that time, Eddie said he only chose to commit to possibly participate in the election process when his college Professor promised he would receive class credit if he registered.  The scholar truly did not expect to feel a deep desire to cast a ballot anytime soon.  Eddie barely paid attention to what went on beyond his personal play.  Parties filled his frame.  Politics, not so much.

Granted, Eddie, an extremely curious soul could carry on a conversation when the discussion turned to government or the economy.  However, way back then, he mostly asked questions and listened.  Eddie was polite when I shared story after story about this political event or that.  He could and did converse on the issues.  Mostly, when we talked, life was the topic of import.

Relationships, realities, reflections, and realizations filled our tête-à-têtes.  In time, we grew closer.  I first met Eddie at the recreation center.  I swim daily and he works as a lifeguard.  Hence, we speak with each other often.

I have witnessed, first-hand, growth I could have never imagined in such a short span.  I always accepted Eddie is very smart.  His curiosity is endless.  Eddie is an eager, enthusiastic student of the world.  He absorbs information like few I have ever known.  It is not what I shared that accelerated his evolution.  Eddie avidly exchanges with everyone.

Perchance, that is why, as the Presidential election became more important to his friends and family.  Eddie began become interested himself.  This fine fellow became the person with whom I could speak when I went to the pool.  He knew what I did.  He read.  He watched.  He tuned into television reports and connected on the Internet.  Eddie was engaged in the election.

Then it happened.  On All Hallows Eve, just before I placed my body into the pool, when I asked if Eddie had voted early, Eddie said, I see no reason to take part.  Barack Obama will win or he will not.  It is destiny.  Our fates are predetermined.  “Whatever occurs,” Eddie explained, “is out of our control.”  He shared his religious philosophies and stories from the Bible to further illustrate this thought.

I tried to reason with him.  I expressed my empathy.  I told tales of when or why I too wondered what was providence and what was within our power.  It was obvious to me, my words were of no avail.  Forlorn, I swam.  What else could I do.  No one can convince another to do what he or she does not wish to do.  I resigned myself to what I could not change, the mind of another human being.  I have long known, people choose for themselves.  Each of us has an effect on another.  Still, true transformations come from within.

As I was awash in water, my mind moved.  I did not think I could offer more to Eddie.  I believed there were no words that might be perceived as wisdom.  Indeed, I am no wiser than he.  I was left to be one with my thoughts.  When I emerged from the concrete pond, I approached Eddie again.

I shared my own story, my personal experience, and why this election, every election means so much to me.  I told Eddie a tale I had offered before.  I first became active in politics as a child.  At age eleven or twelve, I marched with my family in what would be my first Civil Rights demonstration.  

Just before my birth, by law, people of color could not attend school with white folks.  Even after African-American children were finally allowed to attend school with Anglos, there were still numerous other restrictions on persons who were charcoal in color.  Some boundaries were visible, many were not.

“In my lifetime,” I affirmed, “Those whose complexion is dark could not enter a restaurant reserved for people pale of face.”  In the few years that I have been on this planet, segregation was allowed to return to America.  The “privilege” to share a classroom was afforded in the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, and was virtually rescinded.  I asked Eddie to consider the future of the daughter he and his bride had recently conceived.

Yes, in two short years Eddie had experienced much change, within himself.  He was no longer the party person he had been.  His interest in his own education had grown.  The thoughtful chap now embraced knowledge more than he had before, and Eddie always was quite brilliant.  A booklover, likely from birth, intellectually Eddie grasped the veracity of government.  “Eddie,” I quietly exclaimed, “the President picks Supreme Court Justices.  The appointments last a lifetime.”  The Roberts Court has imposed edicts that will not be easily erased, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 Et. Al  

“Oh Eddie,” my voice barely audible at this point, the Supreme Court, under George W. Bush has moved the country to the “Right.”  Some, such as I fear, we have journeyed back more than a century.  Some of the current jurors are elderly.  There is reason to believe a few will choose to step down from the bench.  If we, the people, do not cast a ballot for Barack Obama, I fear the Court, will move farther into the private lives of citizens.

I chattered on.  My characteristic calm demeanor a bit less controlled as saltwater streamed from my eyes. “Eddie, for me, race and discrimination acted out against those of color is not the only issue that must call us to the ballot box.”  There is so much more to consider.  Economic, environmental, and education policies.  “Eddie, think of your college loans, those you may have now and the prospects to pay for your later study.”

“Oh my gosh Eddie,, President Bush may not have been the change I or we would believe in, but he trusted he could do as he wanted.”  I reasoned or attempted to articulate every thought I had, to share my personal history, and relate it to Eddie’s own truth.  Change, I mused, will come.  As individuals or as a country, we may not have control of all occurrences.  Nonetheless, as I learned in Elementary School, “Not to make a decision is to decide.”

In my own life I realized, one by one Americans cast a vote. Collectively, we, the people, choose a President.  The nation’s Chief Executive then selects who will rule the Courts, what regulations he will impose, and which laws he will sign.  “Eddie, in my own life, in yours, we have seen how the President can be the change, or the constituency can be what we believe in.”

Throughout my tearful plea, Eddie was pensive.  He gazed into my eyes.  His stare never left my face.  Then, he asked, was I crying.  Initially, I made an excuse.  “It is the chlorine,” I remarked. Then, more honestly, I said “Yes.”  I tried to tell Eddie how much the election means to me.  I shared my sincerest belief.  The power that each of us has as citizens, if only we realize what we can do when we come together as one . . . My words could not express what I yearned to communicate.  Nevertheless, Eddie thanked me.  He said he would sincerely make an effort to get to the polls, to be part of the solution.

I was at a loss.  I feared I had not said what I might have.  Nor were my words as powerful as they could have been.  In truth, tonight when President Elect Barack Obama stated my sentiments, better than I might ever have done, he said to Eddie what I could not though my tears.  I invite reflection.  Please peruse the words of a man who speaks for all Americans.  Ponder the profundity of “Yes we can!”  

In America, government is as this Presidential campaign has been, of, by, and for the people.  Congratulations and thank you Barack Obama, Joe Biden, you, me, America.  Eddie, I am grateful for your empathy and decision to cast a ballot.  I have faith again; hope is alive. We, Eddie, and all Americans are indeed, the change we can believe in.


Transcript

Obama’s Victory Speech

The New York Times

November 4, 2008

The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, as provided by Federal News Service.

Senator Barack Obama: (Cheers, applause.) Hello, Chicago. (Cheers, applause.)

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — (cheers) — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer that — that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (Cheers, applause.)

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. (Cheers, applause.) Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. (Applause.) I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin for all they’ve achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton, and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.)

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady, Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Auma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given to me. I am grateful to them. (Cheers, applause.)

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe — (cheers, applause) — the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best — (cheers) — the best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of America — (cheers, applause) — to my chief strategist, David Axelrod — (cheers, applause) — who has been a partner with me every step of the way, to the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics — (cheers) — you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done. (Cheers, applause.)

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. (Cheers, applause.) It belongs to you. (Cheers.)

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause. (Cheers, applause.) It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy — (cheers) — who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there. (Cheers, applause.)

Audience: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. (Cheers, applause.)

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends — though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too. (Cheers, applause.)

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. (Cheers, applause.) To those — to those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you. (Cheers, applause.) To those who seek peace and security: we support you. (Cheers, applause.) And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals — democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope. (Cheers, applause.)

That’s the true genius of America, that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She is a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. (Cheers, applause.)

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons, because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We shall overcome.” Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: A man touched down on the Moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there’s so much more to do. So tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century, if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

I thank Eddie, Barack, and the American people.  The dream is reborn, and we, as a country, can believe again.  Yes we can!

History Referenced and Realized . . .

Michelle Obama, Americans Are the Change We Can Believe In



Michelle Obama Keynote Address at Democratic National Convention

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

I had the incredible privilege of hearing, seeing, and being with the glorious Michele Obama a few weeks ago.  Near a month earlier, I listened intently to the speech she shared in Miami.  It was in the twilight of the day when Michelle Obama presented just a bit of the story she told the nation this evening.  Although, at that event, the entirety of her narrative was yet to be revealed, I knew then, that this woman was, is wondrous.  I said so when given the chance.

On that auspicious occasion, as Michelle Obama held my hands and looked me in the eyes, I spoke with the mother of Sasha and Malia, the individual I hope will be our First Lady.  I expressed my faith.  This sweet and sensational being, Michelle Obama is the change I can believe in.  She smiled gently.  We each trusted the truth that she and her husband Barack often offer; genuine reformation will not come unless we, the people, all of us, take part in our political system.

Now, in Denver, as she stands on the stage, in front of an audience that reaches further than can be seen from the podium, Michelle Obama related the saga that is yours, mine, and ours.   Again, she touched hearts.  She tenderly shared her tale.  Her life experience is average, American, exceptional, and exemplary.  Michele Obama is as we, the ordinary people, are.  

As a child, she believed.  Without the opportunities afforded to those born into opulence the two achieved beyond what many imagined possible.  

Tonight, we, every citizen of the United States, is asked to accomplish great feats, just as the Obama family has.  Here is our chance, our opportunity.  We can see the prospect of what might be.  The question is, will we embrace it?  Will we, the people pursue our own dreams?  Perchance, we might be inspired.

Change is a challenge.  Most of us chose transformation slowly.  We accept what might be bit by bit.   Our betterment is a progression.  Possibly, tonight we have we have sensed a glimmer of hope.  Might we be encouraged to believe, to achieve, just as I was when I first encountered Michelle Obama.  Might today be the day in which we begin to hold hands, walk with our heads high, confident that we, each of us, can be the change we believe in.

Please peruse the text, the transcript.  The words may be the inspiration you, I, we need.

Michelle Obama’s Remarks at the Democratic Convention

August 26, 2008

Transcript

The following is the text of the remarks by Michelle Obama, the wife of Senator Barack Obama, on Monday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.

As you might imagine, for Barack, running for President is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig. I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At six-foot-six, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too…literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me – he was watching over me.

And he’s been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when – with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change – we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that’s brought us to this moment.

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world – they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future – and all our children’s future – is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter – raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing – even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives – and mine – that the American Dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children – and all children in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he’d been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work – they wanted to contribute. They believed – like you and I believe – that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is – even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves – to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms – people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had – refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history – knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country: People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift – without disappointment, without regret – that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

The young people across America serving our communities – teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters – and sons – can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I’ve tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That’s why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us – no matter what our age or background or walk of life – each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.

It’s a belief Barack shares – a belief at the heart of his life’s work.

It’s what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe – working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care – including mental health care.

That’s why he’s running – to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That’s what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has – by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your background is, or what party – if any – you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us – our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future – is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago.

It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who’s unemployed, but can’t afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister’s health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that’s been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation.

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they – and your sons and daughters – will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country – where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House – we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future – out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment – let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

References . . .

The Audacity to Hope is a Dream From My Father



Barack Obama in Berlin

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

It is the day of my father’s birth, July 24th.  The man who taught me to dream of unity gave me the freedom to aspire.  Leon inspired and inspires me today.  Since earliest childhood, Daddy ensured I saw no walls and created no barriers.  My father, through his actions, helped me to understand the importance of fellowship.  He demonstrated the need to build bridges in federations with those we call foreign.  Whether Daddy spoke of companions or countries, he emphasized the strength of coalitions.  Lee, as others might label him, taught me the value alliances, in every association.  With thanks to Daddy, I have the Audacity to Hope.  Barack Obama also has the courage of conviction.  Illinois Senator, and Presidential hopeful Obama communicated this commitment to a broader community, today, on July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany.

Barack Obama spoke of the belief he holds dear, and the one my father shared with me.  Perchance, Dreams From My Father, and his, were evident in a speech given this afternoon on distant soil. Citizen Obama expressed a belief in the power of partnerships.  He advanced the notion, when we come “together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life, all is finer.  

The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, and potential President of the United States, declared, as a community, large or small, people connected can strive to achieve for the commonweal.  Individually and as a culture, we thrive when we are united.  Divided, we worldwide will fall.  Whether it be in Berlin, or at an American border, when people build walls, society is weakened.

This sentiment resonated within me.  People abroad responded as well.  

Possibly, we all have fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers that help us to acknowledge “the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.”  As the assembly in Germany applauded the words “this is the moment when we must” trust, give hope, come together, “summon that spirit [of promise] anew,” and “renew our resolve,” I choked back tears.  

I do not agree with the thought that any of us is, or has an enemy.  Nonetheless, I greatly appreciate the broader concept offered; compassion towards all beings is vital.  The thought expressed frequently in Barack Obama’s address that touched me is, empathy is essential.  I too believe that we must join as one.  As a whole we need to act on our spoken intention.  All individuals say they crave global tranquility.  If each of us embraces the “fierce urgency of now”  much will be achieved.

The time is upon us.  Each of us can choose to act on our hopes and our desires.  I have faith that if we recall, as my Dad taught me, no one person is our leader; no one is, or can be the person in charge, then, we can truly prosper.  (I thank you Daddy for the lesson.  ‘All are equal.  An egalitarian society is essential if humans are to live in harmony.  As you said today Daddy, we each must have an opportunity to shine.)

Today, and every day, the man with a dream is not necessarily a person of any particular gender, race, color, creed, or ethnicity.  He is you, me, my Dad, Barack Obama’s father, and yours.  The person with vision is a woman, a child.  He or she is every being.  If we are ever to end the nightmare of an era bent on destruction, we must join hands, extend our hearts, empathize, and endeavor to be one.

I offer an invitation, an inspirational speech.  May you peruse the text, reflect on the transcript, and live as a person with intent.  May I present, Barack Obama and his speech delivered in Berlin on the date of my Dad’s birth.

Transcript

Obama’s Speech in Berlin

July 24, 2008

The following is the prepared text of Senator Barack Obama in Berlin, Germany, as provided by his presidential campaign.

Senator Barack Obama: Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Source of Inspiration; The Audacity to Hope . . .

Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “We will prevail.”


Virginia Tech Convocation, Professor Nikki Giovanni. YouTube.com

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
Today, the thirty-three fatalities are memorialized. It will not be the first time we honor the passing of these glorious souls; nor will it be the last. The entire world mourns with the Hokies, their families, friends, and all those touched by the loss of lives. Cyberspace communities have come together. Dedicated boards are offered so that each of us might write a word of remembrance.

I present an opportunity to connect with those that we love, who sacrificed their human souls so that we might live and learn.

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.

    A week has passed since the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus was ravaged. However, students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alum maintain, they were not destroyed. They are, nevertheless, devastated. Students received much support from people throughout the nation.

    Throughout the week, students who have remained in Blacksburg have found support in a variety of places on campus and in the larger community, as local vendors and schools from across the country have shown their support in many different ways.

    On Tuesday, at the convocation, President Bush, along with Gov. Tim Kaine, Vice President for student affairs Zenobia Hikes, and distinguished professor Nikki Giovanni, spoke to the crowd that filled Cassell Coliseum, and flowed over into Lane Stadium.

    Bush encouraged the community of mourners by stressing “normalcy” in the community. He added, “Such a day will come.”

    The largest response from the crowd came after Giovanni spoke and performed a dramatic reading. Her poem reminded the crowd that tragedy strikes everyone. After ending with “We are Virginia Tech,” the crowd began a series of cheers, shouting, “Let’s go Hokies.”

    The esteemed Professor enthralled and embraced the crowd.  She spoke the words that guide us all. The Virginia Tech community was her audience and perchance the focus for her words; yet, the message might be considered our human mission.

    Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address
    Delivered April 17, 2007
    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

    We are the Hokies.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    I too do not understand.  I cannot comprehend why difficulties enter our lives.  I know not why we must breathe our last breathe at the hands of a gunman.  Acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS] confuses me.  The idea of war racks my brain.  The reality of brutal battles stresses my soul.  Illness and injury boggle my mind.  Man’s inhumanity to man is incomprehensible.  Nature wreaks havoc and this causes me to wonder.

    Perhaps, I can only trust that the reasons for such tragedies will reveal them selves upon my passing.  Nonetheless, I do believe those associated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are granted great sustenance from those whose physical presence can be seen no more on Earth.

    I have faith that those gunned down are our finest teachers. Their passing may provide us with a path towards greater understanding.

    While in the human form, we cannot fully comprehend why what occurs does. Death does not make sense. When a person takes his or her last breathe before they have had a chance to truly live; it seems so unfair. If a person has experienced much hardship and has been spared in the face of death, we have hope. When we witness such individuals serve many, we are thankful that they are alive. Yet, when the time comes and their days on G-d’s green grass end, it is challenging to grasp.  We may muse, ‘What is the purpose.’ Why would anyone even wish to terminate the live of another.

    I do not know.  I have no answers. With each passing moment, I am more certain I cannot comprehend our existence here on Earth. There is little that makes sense to me.

    Yet, I am comforted by  my experience, observations, and what others share of their circumstances.

    In my life, much has happened that did not seem just or fair. However, I learned from what I once thought awful.  In my own life, much was not as I wished it would be. Tremendous sorrows befall.

    I too mourn the loss of innocent lives that were too short.  I cry for these vibrant individuals; they did not need to die.  Oh, to be cut down in your prime, no matter what the age, is sad beyond belief.  I do not negate the sorrow that Seung-Hui Cho felt. Oh, how his family must be suffering.

    Any life is of infinite value.  I think, although I may not like the actions of many, I must love their being, for oh, but for the grace of G-d go I.

    Please Peruse the References . . .

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.
  • Va. Tech Students Return to Campus, Ny Justin Pope. Associated Press. Time Magazine. April 22, 2007
  • Students receive support from across community, nation. By Collegiate Times Staff. April 23, 2007
  • Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Delivered April 17, 2007
  • rack/wrack Word of the Day.  Random House
  • Senator Barack Obama. The Path For a Presidential Hopeful

    Barack Obama’s Announcment – Part 1  YouTube

    Senator Barack Obama announces his candidacy.  The date is February 10, 2007; it is bitterly cold.  Yet, people turned out to hear this potential President.  They wanted to listen to and look at the man they think is genuine.  I invite you to read the transcript of this speech and then, assess for yourself.  Might Senator Barack Obama be you man, candidate of choice, your President?

    February 10, 2007
    TEXT
    Senator Obama’s Announcement

    Following is the prepared text of Senator Barack Obama’s announcement for president on Saturday in Springfield, Ill., as provided by his campaign:
    Let me begin by saying thanks to all you who’ve traveled, from far and wide, to brave the cold today.

    We all made this journey for a reason. It’s humbling, but in my heart I know you didn’t come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be. In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that’s shut you out, that’s told you to settle, that’s divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what’s possible, building that more perfect union.

    That’s the journey we’re on today. But let me tell you how I came to be here. As most of you know, I am not a native of this great state. I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea – that I might play a small part in building a better America.

    My work took me to some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren’t simply local in nature – that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away; and that when a child turns to violence, there’s a hole in his heart no government could ever fill.

    It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.

    After three years of this work, I went to law school, because I wanted to understand how the law should work for those in need. I became a civil rights lawyer, and taught constitutional law, and after a time, I came to understand that our cherished rights of liberty and equality depend on the active participation of an awakened electorate. It was with these ideas in mind that I arrived in this capital city as a state Senator.

    It was here, in Springfield, where I saw all that is America converge – farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. I made lasting friendships here – friends that I see in the audience today.

    It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable – that it’s possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we’re willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.

    That’s why we were able to reform a death penalty system that was broken. That’s why we were able to give health insurance to children in need. That’s why we made the tax system more fair and just for working families, and that’s why we passed ethics reforms that the cynics said could never, ever be passed.

    It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people – where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America.

    And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

    I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness – a certain audacity – to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.

    The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we’ve changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King’s call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

    Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done. Today we are called once more – and it is time for our generation to answer that call.

    For that is our unyielding faith – that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.

    That’s what Abraham Lincoln understood. He had his doubts. He had his defeats. He had his setbacks. But through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people. It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free. It is because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest, that today we have the chance to face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people – as Americans.

    All of us know what those challenges are today – a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren’t learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We’ve heard them. We’ve talked about them for years.

    What’s stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What’s stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics – the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.

    For the last six years we’ve been told that our mounting debts don’t matter, we’ve been told that the anxiety Americans feel about rising health care costs and stagnant wages are an illusion, we’ve been told that climate change is a hoax, and that tough talk and an ill-conceived war can replace diplomacy, and strategy, and foresight. And when all else fails, when Katrina happens, or the death toll in Iraq mounts, we’ve been told that our crises are somebody else’s fault. We’re distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants.

    And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what’s filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It’s time to turn the page.

    We’ve made some progress already. I was proud to help lead the fight in Congress that led to the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.
    But Washington has a long way to go. And it won’t be easy. That’s why we’ll have to set priorities. We’ll have to make hard choices. And although government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes we need, more money and programs alone will not get us where we need to go. Each of us, in our own lives, will have to accept responsibility – for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening our communities, and sharing some measure of sacrifice. So let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation.

    Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let’s set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let’s recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let’s make college more affordable, and let’s invest in scientific research, and let’s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.

    And as our economy changes, let’s be the generation that ensures our nation’s workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let’s protect the hard-earned benefits their companies have promised. Let’s make it possible for hardworking Americans to save for retirement. And let’s allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country’s middle-class again.

    Let’s be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let’s do this.

    Let’s be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let’s be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president’s first term.

    Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world. Let’s be the generation that makes future generations proud of what we did here.

    Most of all, let’s be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we’ve got. Politics doesn’t have to divide us on this anymore – we can work together to keep our country safe. I’ve worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world’s deadliest, unguarded weapons. We can work together to track terrorists down with a stronger military, we can tighten the net around their finances, and we can improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.

    But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake. Today we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the hearts that have been broken, and the young lives that could have been. America, it’s time to start bringing our troops home. It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war. That’s why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace.

    Finally, there is one other thing that is not too late to get right about this war – and that is the homecoming of the men and women – our veterans – who have sacrificed the most. Let us honor their valor by providing the care they need and rebuilding the military they love. Let us be the generation that begins this work.

    I know there are those who don’t believe we can do all these things. I understand the skepticism. After all, every four years, candidates from both parties make similar promises, and I expect this year will be no different. All of us running for president will travel around the country offering ten-point plans and making grand speeches; all of us will trumpet those qualities we believe make us uniquely qualified to lead the country. But too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.

    That is why this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us – it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. It will take your time, your energy, and your advice – to push us forward when we’re doing right, and to let us know when we’re not. This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.

    By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.
    But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.

    He tells us that there is power in words.

    He tells us that there is power in conviction.

    That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people.

    He tells us that there is power in hope.

    As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: “Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through.”

    That is our purpose here today.

    That’s why I’m in this race.

    Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.

    I want to win that next battle – for justice and opportunity.

    I want to win that next battle – for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all.

    I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.

    And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I’m ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.

    Please share your thoughts.  Does Senator Obama speak to you or for you?

    Please peruse the transcript.  Barack Obama enters the election.  2008 is on the horizon . . .

  • Senator Obama’s Announcement, Text  The New York Times.  February 10, 2007
  • pdf Senator Obama’s Announcement, Text  The New York Times.  February 10, 2007
  • Senator Webb Speaks From the Heart; State of the Union Rebuttal

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The full text, the transcript of the speech is offered at the end of this treatise. 
    You may view the speech in its entirety. The film is divided into two parts; each of these is presented in this post.


    Please view the video Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 2)

    Jim Webb thankfully did speak for the Left and from the heart.  I had my fears for the newly elected Senator does have a hawkish past.  Senator Webb is known to be a warrior and while he has advocated against the fight in Iraq.  His history gave me reason for apprehension.  After all the man was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.  Later he served as Secretary of the Navy.  Jim Webb was a devout Republican, and rarely are those of that political ilk active pacifists as I am. 

    The Webb family has fighting tradition.  Senator Webb’s father was a Marine.  He and his brother each wore the birdie and ball.  Currently, his son, also a Marine, is stationed in Iraq.  Senator Webb graduated from the Naval Academy.  I doubt the curriculum was Liberal Arts.  Martial Arts was likely the agenda.

    Senator Webb spoke of his lineage and their loyalty to the country.  However, his words were not aggressively warlike.  The new Senator, Webb stated that service in his family was not politically motivated.  Generations of the Webb family trusted that the leaders of this country were as devoted to the well being of its citizenry as the Webb family was to this nation.  I was pleased when the idea I forever hope to advance, reciprocal reverence was mentioned. 

    Senator Webb touched on this topic tenderly, even while discussing battle.  Jim Webb avowed, he and his family felt certain that in the past, this nation’s leaders demonstrated a “concern for our welfare.”  Sadly, the Senator stated, this Administration does not.  They show no compassion for our soldiers.  Webb declared George W. Bush and his ‘Battalion’ [my word for the combative cronies now occupying the White House] acted “recklessly.”  Senator Webb reflected on the blatant disregard and contempt this President and his Cabinet showed for expert military opinions.  As I listened to this portion of the State of the Union Rebuttal, I was somewhat gratified. 

    I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years.  This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift.  He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home.  When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing.  I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country.  I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam.  My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot.  My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

    Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country.  On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders.  We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

    We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it.  But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

    The President took us into this war recklessly.  He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.  We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

    The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering.  Financially.  The damage to our reputation around the world.  The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.  And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.


    Please view the video Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 1)

    What truly gave me pause was the earlier portion of the Senator’s speech.  It was in his introductory statements that the Jim Webb spoke to me.  I welcomed the words of concern.  However, I thought this portion of the speech was far too short.  It was lacking in specifics, though admittedly, it reflected what was stated within the State of the Union, not much.  Perhaps, because there is little good that can be said of a country in dire straits domestically, little was offered.

    Nevertheless, Senator Webb, citizen Webb spoke of man’s inhumanity to man.  He questioned the State of our Union.  Mister Webb spoke of a country divided.

    Domestic policies loomed large in the mind of this man.  That, for me, was wondrous.  Senator Webb cited the dire need to improve education and health care for all Americans.  He questioned the sincerity of a President that speaks of compassion and yet, has done virtually nothing to restore the vitality of New Orleans.  ‘

    Senator Webb called Mister Bush to task for speaking of energy independence in each of his annual addresses; yet never truly acting on his proclamations.

    Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party.  We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs.  We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

    Jim Webb as I would welcome more than words.  This man of action wishes to see some.  I am with you Jim.  You may recall, I am an activist peacenik.  My assertions are not empty.

    Lastly, as Senator Webb spoke of the home front, he humbly concluded with an economic discussion.  This section of the Rebuttal Speech was perchance my personal favorite.  Mister Webb, civilian Webb offered . . .

    When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.  Some say that things have never been better.  The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits.  But these benefits are not being fairly shared.  When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times, what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times.  In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

    Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.  Medical costs have skyrocketed.  College tuition rates are off the charts.  Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas.  Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

    In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.  Our workers know this, through painful experience.  Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also.  And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

    In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.  Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that, exist on Main Street.  We must recapture that spirit today.

    I never knew that I was such a admirer of former President Andrew Jackson.  Apparently I am!  As the top one percent of the population prospers, and all others fall, I am gratified to know that there is a philosophy, a history, that promotes awareness and sensitivity for all.

    As I reflect on the practices of this present Administration, I marvel.  The State of their Union is solid, for they together climb.  The cashboxes of this clannish Cabinet are full.  These cronies step over bodies, dead and alive.  They care not.  As this country crumbles, consistently the citizens are told in “We’re not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air.”  In conclusion we hear this utterance, “the State of our Union is strong.”  Mister Bush, which is it?

    I think Senator Jim Webb knows.  He spoke of our trials, our tribulations.  It seems Mister President, Senator Webb speaks for the public.  I know not for whom you speak.  I am only certain, it is not I!  I thank you Senator Webb for saying what I would have wanted to say  aloud, in front of a national audience.  Someone must.

    Senator Webb, well done!

    I offer the full transcript of the speech Senator Jim Webb delivered.  May you read the text, review it, reflect upon it, and enjoy!

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007
    Democratic Response of Senator Jim Webb
    To the President’s State of the Union Address

    Good evening.

    I’m Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown – an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.

    It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful.  Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

    Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party.  We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs.  We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

    There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight.  The first relates to how we see the health of our economy – how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans.  The second regards our foreign policy – how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.

    When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.  Some say that things have never been better.  The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits.  But these benefits are not being fairly shared.  When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times, what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times.  In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

    Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.  Medical costs have skyrocketed.  College tuition rates are off the charts.  Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas.  Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

    In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.  Our workers know this, through painful experience.  Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also.  And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

    In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.  Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that, exist on Main Street.  We must recapture that spirit today.

    And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so.  The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow.  We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people.  We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines.  We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.

    With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years.  Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

    I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years.  This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift.  He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home.  When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing.  I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country.  I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam.  My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot.  My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

    Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country.  On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders.  We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

    We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it.  But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

    The President took us into this war recklessly.  He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.  We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

    The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering.  Financially.  The damage to our reputation around the world.  The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.  And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

    The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military.  We need a new direction.  Not one step back from the war against international terrorism.  Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos.  But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

    On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action.

    Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century.  America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines.  The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth.  The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

    Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions.  He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.”  And he did something about it.

    As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate.  “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two.  And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

    These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world.  Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas.  If he does, we will join him.  If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

    Thank you for listening.  And God bless America. 

    Please review the references . . .

  • President Delivers “State of the Union”   Office of the Press Secretary.  January 23, 2007
  • Va.’s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush, Va. Senator Urges Change in Direction for Economy, Iraq War, By Michael D. Shear.  Washington Post. Wednesday, January 24, 2007; Page A12
  • pdf Va.’s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush, Va. Senator Urges Change in Direction for Economy, Iraq War, By Michael D. Shear.  Washington Post. Wednesday, January 24, 2007; Page A12
  • Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address, Delivered by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)  Source: Senate Majority Leader’s Office.  Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 8:50 PM
  • pdf Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address, Delivered by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)  Source: Senate Majority Leader’s Office.  Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 8:50 PM
  • Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 2)  YouTube
  • Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 1)  YouTube