The audacity of hope
On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, landof Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it,my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student,born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went toschool in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domesticservant.
But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work andperseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America,which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had comebefore. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town onthe other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farmsthrough most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up forduty, joined Patton's army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmotherraised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war,they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west insearch of opportunity.
And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, bornof two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they sharedan abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me anAfrican name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerantAmerica your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the bestschools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generousAmerica you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are bothpassed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me withpride.
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, awarethat my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowingthat my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all ofthose who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my storyeven possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, notbecause of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or thesize of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up ina declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to heself-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by theirCreator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty andthe pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of itspeople, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children atnight and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can saywhat we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door.That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe orhiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process withoutfear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted - or at least, most ofthe time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values andcommitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuringup, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. Andfellow Americans - Democrats, Republicans, Independents - I say to you tonight:we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Gale□□urg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plantthat's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own childrenfor jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who waslosing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 amonth for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on.More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her,who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money togo to college.
Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, indiners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all theirproblems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Gointo the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don'twant their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into anyinner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can'tteach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can'tachieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets anderadicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No,people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense,deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make surethat every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors ofopportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want thatchoice.
In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man tolead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is JohnKerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice,because they've defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to hisyears as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the UnitedStates Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we'veseen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and hisrecord affirm what is best in us.
John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. Soinstead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he'll offerthem to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an Americawhere all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians inWashington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, sowe aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage offoreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms thathave made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice ourbasic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believesthat in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never he thefirst option.
A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in EastMoline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed,with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraqthe following week. As I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, hisabsolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty andservice, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child.But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was servingus?
前不久，在伊利诺伊州东莫林市的外战老兵俱乐部里，我偶遇一个年轻人，他叫沙莫斯，身高足有 2米，相貌英俊，目光清澈，笑容可掬。他说自己加入了海军陆战队, 一周后就将进驻伊拉克。当我听他讲述入伍的原因时，他讲到了对我们国家和领导人的绝对信赖，对军队的无上忠诚以及自身强烈的责任感，这让我感受到他身上具备的优良品质正是我们对子女的所有期待。然而，当我扪心自问：我们为他所做的一切，是否能与他的付出相当呢?
I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters,husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to theirhometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get bywithout a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limbmissing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefitsbecause they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm'sway, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truthabout why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tendto the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enoughtroops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemiesmust be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knowsthis. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protectthe men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate onemoment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerrybelieves in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us toprosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient inthe American saga.
A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on thesouth side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not mychild. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescriptionand has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer,even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family beingrounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens mycivil liberties. It's that fundamental belief - I am my brother's keeper, I ammy sister's keeper - that makes this country work. It's what allows us topursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single Americanfamily. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us,the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anythinggoes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and aconservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not ablack America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there'sthe United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our countryinto Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States forDemocrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in theBlue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries inthe Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friendsin the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriotswho supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the starsand stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in apolitics of cynicism or a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope.I'm not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance thatthinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the healthcare crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking aboutsomething more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a firesinging freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores;the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; thehope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kidwith a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Theaudacity of hope!
In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; thebelief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. Ibelieve we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with aroad to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to thehomeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence anddespair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can makethe right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!
Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the samepassion I do, the same hopefulness I do - if we do what we must do, then Ihave