I could talk about the fact that my husband is the first President to provide federal
funding for stem cell research. - He did so in a principled way, allowing science to
explore its potential while respecting the dignity of human life.
I could talk about the record increase in home ownership. Home ownership in America,
especially minority home ownership is at an all time high.
All of these issues are important. But we are living in the midst of the most historic
struggle my generation has ever known. The stakes are so high. So I want to talk about
the issue that I believe is most important for my own daughters, for all our families, and
for our future: George's work to protect our country and defeat terror so that all children
can grow up in a more peaceful world.
As we gather in this hall and around our television sets tonight, Joshua Crane stands
watch aboard the USS John C. Stennis. His brothers Matthew and Nicholas stand watch
near Fallujah. At home in Colorado, their mother Cindy stands watch too - with worry,
and prayer. She told me all three of her sons enlisted after September 11, because they
recognized the threat to our country. Our nation is grateful to all the men and women of
our armed forces who are standing guard on the front lines of freedom.
A Dad whose wife is deployed in Iraq recently wrote about what he is learning as he
struggles to rear his three children alone. "I have ruined at least three loads of laundry,"
he said, "Once you turn everything pink, it stays pink." He goes on: "I have learned what
our soldiers' wives have known for generations: hope and grief and perseverance."
This time of war has been a time of great hardship for our military families. The
President and I want all our men and women in uniform and their wives and husbands,
mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to know we appreciate their sacrifice. We know
it will mean a more peaceful future for our children and grandchildren.
No American President ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn't want to go to
war, but he knew saving the union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn't want to go to
war - but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it. And my husband didn't want to go to
war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it.
I remember some very quiet nights at the dinner table. George was weighing grim
scenarios and ominous intelligence about potentially even more devastating attacks. I
listened many nights as George talked with foreign leaders on the phone, or in our living
room, or at our ranch in Crawford. I remember an intense weekend at Camp David.
George and Prime Minister Tony Blair were discussing the threat from Saddam Hussein.
And I remember sitting in the window of the White House, watching as my husband
walked on the lawn below. I knew he was wrestling with these agonizing decisions that
would have such profound consequence for so many lives and for the future of our world.
And I was there when my husband had to decide. Once again, as in our parents'
generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the
world toward greater security and freedom.
I wasn't born when my father went to World War II. Like so many of our greatest
generation he is gone now, lost to Alzheimer's nine years ago. He served in the US Army
in Europe for almost three years, and helped liberate Nordhausen, one of the
concentration camps. You can imagine his horror at what he found there. The methods of
the terrorists we face today are different - but my father would know this struggle.
Our parents' generation confronted tyranny and liberated millions. As we do the hard
work of confronting today's threat - we can also be proud that 50 million more men,
women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our
After years of being treated as virtual prisoners in their own homes by the Taliban, the
women of Afghanistan are going back to work. After being denied an education, even the
chance to learn to read, -- the little girls in Afghanistan are now in school. Almost every
eligible voter - over ten million Afghan citizens - have registered to vote in this fall's
presidential election. More than 40 percent of them women. And wasn't it wonderful to
watch the Olympics and see that beautiful Afghan sprinter race in long pants and a t-shirt,
exercising her new freedom while respecting the traditions of her country.
I recently met a young Iraqi woman. She is one of the new Iraqi Fulbright scholars. She
survived horrific ordeals, including the gassing of her village by Saddam Hussein. She
told me that when people look at Iraq, what they don't see is that Iraq is a country of 25
million people, each with their own hope.
As we watch the people of Iraq and Afghanistan take the first steps to build free
countries, I am reminded of what Vaclav Havel told me. Vaclav Havel -- playwright,
intellectual, freedom fighter, political prisoner, then President of the Czech Republic --
said "Laura, you know, democracy is hard: it requires the participation of everybody." I
think of how long it took us in our country, even though we were given such a perfect
document by our founders. It took almost 100 years after the founders declared that all
men are created equal for America to abolish slavery-- and not until 84 years ago this
month did American women get the right to vote. Our nation has not always lived up to
its ideals -- yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. They expose our flaws, and
lead us to mend them. We are the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us
and it is each generation's responsibility to continue that work.
These last three years since September 11, have been difficult years in our country's
history, years that have demanded the hope, grief and perseverance that our soldier's
husband wrote about. We've learned some lessons we didn't want to know - that our
country is more vulnerable than we thought, that some people hate us because we stand
for liberty, religious freedom and tolerance. But we have been heartened to discover that
we are also braver than we thought, stronger and more generous.
These have been years of change for our family as well. Our girls went off to college and
graduated, and now they are back home. We are so happy they are campaigning with us
this fall and so proud they will be pursuing their own careers soon. My mother moved out
of my childhood home and into a retirement community. We lost our beloved dog Spotty,
and had our hearts warmed by the antics of Barney.
People ask me all the time whether George has changed. He's a little grayer - and of
course, he has learned and grown as we all have. But he's still the same person I met at a
backyard barbecue in Midland, Texas and married three months later. And you've come
to know many of the same things that I know about him. He'll always tell you what he
really thinks. You can count on him, especially in a crisis. His friends don't change - and
neither do his values. He has boundless energy and enthusiasm for his job, and for life
itself. He treats every person he meets with dignity and respect; the same dignity and
respect he has for the office he holds. And he's a loving man, with a big heart. I've seen
tears as he has hugged families who've lost loved ones. I've seen him return the salute of
soldiers wounded in battle. And then, being George, he's invites them to come visit us at
the White House. And they've come, bringing an infectious spirit of uniquely American
confidence that we are doing the right thing and that our future will be better because of
our actions today.
Many of my generation remember growing up at the height of the Cold War, hiding
under desks during civil defense drills in case the communists attacked us. And now,
when parents ask me, what should we tell our children - I think about those desks. We
need to reassure our children that our police and firemen, and military and intelligence
workers are doing everything possible to keep them safe. We need to remind them that
most people in the world are good. And we need to explain that because of strong
American leadership in the past we don't hide under our desks anymore. Because of
President Bush's leadership and the bravery of our men and women in uniform, I believe
our children will grow up in a world where today's terror alerts have also become a thing
of the past.
These are also years of hope for our country and our people. We have great confidence
in our ability to overcome challenges. We have gained a new appreciation for the many
blessings of America, and been reminded of our responsibilities to the country that we
George and I grew up in West Texas, where the sky seems endless* and so do the
possibilities. He brings that optimism, that sense of promise, that certainty that a better
day is before us to his job every day - and with your help, he'll do so for four more years.
These are times that require an especially strong and determined leader. And I'm proud
that my husband is that kind of leader.
Thank you, God bless you and God bless America.
Newsflash, O'reilly said that all the press get a copy of EVERY speach before it is given.
It was up about an hour ago....
gee I guess I'll have to shell out the bucks for cable and a television so I can learn these things