Speech at the start of the whistle stop tour from Philadelphia to Washington
You guys can have a seat if you want... although I won't be long...
First of all I want to thank Pat for her energy and enthusiasm – that is infectious – and for everything that she and her family represents: what's best in America. I also wanna thank our hosts and great friends – I know you've heard from them already – the great governor of Pennsylvania, governor Ed Rendell – where's Ed? – good to see you; the outstanding mayor of Philadelphia Micheal Nutter; the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter; and a guy who is as good of a friend and as standup a guy as I've met in my travels all across the country, Bob Casey.
We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington, and this is fitting because it was here in this city that our American journey began. It was here that a group of farmers, and lawyers, merchants and soldiers gathered to declare their independence and lay claim to a destiny that they were being denied. Now, it was a risky thing, meeting as they did in that summer of 1776; there was no guarantee that their fragile experiment would find success. More than once in those early years did the odds seem insurmountable. More than once did the fishermen, laborers and craftsmen who called themselves an army face the prospect of defeat. And yet they were willing to put all they were and all they had on the line – their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor – for a set of ideals that continue to light the world. That we are equal; that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come not from our laws but from our Maker. And that a government of, by and for the people can endure.
It was these ideals that led us to declare independence and craft our constitution, producing documents that were imperfect but had within then, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made perfect. We're here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began. The trials we face are very different now but they are severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that's faltering, two wars -- one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely -- a planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil. And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What's required is the same perseverence and idealism that our founders displayed. What's required is a new declaration of independence; not just in our nation, but in our own lives. Independence from ideology and small thinking, independence from prejudice and bigotry, independence from selfishness; an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.
That's the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those people who are willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. The belief that Washington was serving the interests of the few and not the many and that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced. But I also believed something else. I believed that our future is our choice and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together, Democrats, Republicans and independents, north, south, east, west, Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native-American, gay and straight, and disabled and not, then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearn for both but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our Union in the process.
This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to leave for Washington on a trip that you made possible, know that I will not be traveling alone. I'll be takin' with me some of the men and women I met along the way. Americans from every corner of this country whose hopes and heartaches were the core of our cause, whose dreams and struggles have become my own. Theirs are the voices I will carry with me every day in the White House. Theirs are the stories I'll be thinking about when we deliver the changes you elected me to make.
When Americans are returning to work and sleeping easier at night knowing their jobs are secure and their children's future are secure, I'll be thinking about people like Mark Dahl, who worried his job at Ford will be the next one cut -- a devastating prospect with a teen... with teenage daughters he has back home. When affordable healthcare is no longer something we hope for but something we can count on, I'll be thinking of working moms like Shandra Jackson, who was diagnosed with an illness and is now burdened with higher medical bills on top of child care for her eleven year-old son. When we're welcoming back our loved ones from a war in Iraq that we've brought to an end, I'll be thinking of our brave servicemen and -women, sacrificing around the world.
I'll... I'll be thinking about veterans like Tony Fisher, who served two tours in Iraq and all of those returning home, who are unable to find a job. These're the stories that will drive me in the days ahead. They are different stories, told by men and women whose journeys may seem separate; and yet, what all of you showed me time and time again is that no matter who we are or what we look like, no matter where we come from or what faith we practice, we are a common.... We are people of common hopes and common dreams. We ask only for what was promised us as Americans, that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.
We recognize that such enormous challenges as we face today will not be solved quickly. There will be false starts and setbacks, there will be frustrations and disappointments... We will be called to show patience even as we act with fierce urgency. But we should never forget that we are the heirs of that first band of patriots. We are the heirs of those who declared independence; ordinary men and women who refused to give up when it all seemed so improbable and who somehow believed that they had the power to make the world anew. That's the spirit that we must reclaim today. For the American Revolution did not end when the British guns fell silent; it was never something to be won only on a battlefield or fulfilled only in our founding documents. It was not simply a struggle to break free from empire and declare independence: the American Revolution was and remains an ongoing struggle in the minds and hearts of the people, to live up to our founding creed.
So starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our Union. Let's build a government that's responsible to the people; let's accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. Let all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but just the beginning. Join me in this effort, join one another in this effort, and together -- mindful of our proud history and hopeful for the future -- let us seek a better world in our time.
Thank you Philadelphia, love you guys. Thank you.