INVESCO FIELD AT MILE HIGH, DENVER, COLORADO
9:12 P.M. EDT, THURSDAY, AUGUST 28, 2008
I stand before you tonight not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American. The Eisenhowers came to this great country in the 18th century, settling first amid the hills of Pennsylvania and later on the plains of Kansas. Like many of your ancestors, they built our nation and served it in times of national crisis and war.
I grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where my parents and grandparents, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, chose to live after Ike’s retirement as Supreme Commander, Europe, and as President of the United States. It was also in Gettysburg where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic address.
On the killing fields of Pickett’s Charge our country came of age and assured our nation would survive as one. Yet today the divisions in our country are deep and wide. Our cohesiveness as a nation is strained by multiple crises in finance and credit; energy and health care.
At the same time, we have knowingly saddled our children and grandchildren with a staggering debt. This is a moral failing – not just a financial one.
Overseas, our credibility is at an all time low. We must restore our international leadership position and the leverage that goes with it.
But rather than focus on the critical strategic issues, our national discourse has turned into a petty squabble.
Too many people in power have failed us. Belligerence has become a substitute for strength; stubbornness a substitute for leadership; and impulsive action has replaced measured and thoughtful response.
Once during the Eisenhower administration, Ike was under fire from his critics for moving too slowly in responding to political pressure. After a visit to the Oval Office by Robert Frost, the famous American poet sent the president a note of support. “The strong,” he wrote, “are saying nothing until they see.”
I believe that Barack Obama has the energy, but more importantly, the temperament, to run this country and provide the leadership we need. He knows that we can either advance on the distant hills of hope– or retreat to the garrisons of fear. He can mobilize and inspire all of us to show up for duty. Discipline will be required; as will compromise, flexibility and quiet strength.
The task before our next President will be overwhelming. But no undertaking can be more critical than bringing about a sense of national unity and purpose, built on mutual respect and bi-partisanship.
Unless we squarely face our challenges, as Americans—together– we risk losing the priceless heritage bestowed on us by the sweat and the sacrifice of our forbearers. If we do not pull together, we could lose the America that has been an inspiration to the world.
On December 1, 1862, in his Annual Message to Congress, Abraham Lincoln immortalized this thought when he said: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
Let us respond this November to President Lincoln’s challenge. Let us restore the hope, and bring the change, that our nation so desperately needs.
Yes we can!