|America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by
ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests
and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these
principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing
these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise
through civility, courage, compassion and character.
America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern
for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect,
fair dealing and forgiveness.
Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because,
in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.
But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not
lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts
of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and
undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline,
the vulnerable will suffer most.
We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or
a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community
over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.
America, at its best, is also courageous.
Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war,
when defending common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose
if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us.
We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead
of passing them on to future generations.
Together, we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy
claim more young lives.
We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from
struggles we have the power to prevent. And we will reduce taxes, to recover
the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working
We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.
We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century
is spared new horrors.
The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America
remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance
of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests.
We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad
faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for
the values that gave our nation birth.
America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience,
we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise.
And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at
risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they
are failures of love.
And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute
for hope and order in our souls.
Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not
strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities. And all of
us are diminished when any are hopeless.
Government has great responsibilities for public safety and public
health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work
of a nation, not just a government.
And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's
touch or a pastor's prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend
our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in
our plans and in our laws.
Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen
to those who do.
And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler
on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.
America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued
To Be Continued...