Happy Fourth of July
Well, the flags are still lining the streets of the little central
Well, we like to think so. We like to think that we still have some things to be proud of in this country, some things worthy of the sacrifices made, some freedoms and rights worth living or dying for.
So, rather than rail against all the abuses of power, the corruption, the misinformation, the decadence and decay all around us now, I am giving a nod to the Independence Day, and share the words of some memorable patriots over the years. The following are speeches that exemplify the courage and ability and nimbleness of thought rooted in our common heritage of a love for liberty.
Patrick Henry Give me Liberty or Give me Death, 1775
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Thomas Paine's American Crisis, 1776:
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
AIN'T I A WOMAN?
by Sojourner Truth
Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted overover mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me!Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysberg Address, 1863:
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
Votes for Women Speech by Mark Twain
Ladies and Gentlemen - It is a small help that I can afford, but it is just such help that one can give as coming from the heart through the mouth. The report of Mr. Meyer was admirable, and I was as interested in it as you have been. Why, I'm twice as old as he, and I've had so much experience that I would say to him, when he makes his appeal for help: "Don't make it for today or tomorrow, but collect the money on the spot."
We are all creatures of sudden impulse. We must be worked up by steam, as it were. Get them to write their wills now, or it may be too late by-and-by. Fifteen or twenty years ago I had an experience I shall never forget. I got into a church which was crowded by a sweltering and panting multitude. The city missionary of our town -
I remember on that occasion in the
Referring to woman's sphere in life, I'll say that woman is always right. For twenty-five years I've been a woman's rights man. I have always believed, long before my mother died, that, with her gray hairs and admirable intellect, perhaps she knew as much as I did. Perhaps she knew as much about voting as I.
I should like to see the time come when women shall help to make the laws. I should like to see that whiplash, the ballot, in the hands of women. As for this city's government, I don't want to say much, except that it is a shame - a shame; but if I should live twenty-five years longer - and there is no reason why I shouldn't - I think I'll see women handle the ballot. If women had the ballot to-day, the state of things in this town would not exist.
If all the women in this town had a vote today they would elect a mayor at the next election, and they would rise in their might and change the awful state of things now existing here.
Votes for Women Speech by Mark Twain
Sen. Huey P. Long, 1930’s: (a speech – abridged, delivered on the floor of the senate)
President Roosevelt was elected on
Our national debt of today has risen to $28.5 billion. When the World War ended we shuddered in our boots because the national debt had climbed to $26 billion. But we consoled ourselves by saying that the foreign countries owed us $11 billion and that in reality the
Now this big debt would not be so bad if we had something to show for it. If we had ended this depression once and for all we could say that it is worth it all, but at the end of this rainbow of the greatest national debt in all history that must get bigger and bigger, what do we find?
One million more unemployed; S million more families on the dole, and another 5 million trying to get there; the fortunes of the rich becoming bigger and the fortunes of the average and little men getting less and less; the money in the banks nearly all owned by a mere handful of people, and the President of the United States quoted as saying: "Don't touch the rich!"
I begged, I pleaded, and did everything else under the sun for over 2 years to try to get Mr. Roosevelt to keep his word that he gave to us; I hoped against hope that sooner or later he would see the light and come back to his promises on which he was made President. I warned what would happen last year and for this year if he did not keep these promises made to the people.
But going into this third year of
All the time we have pointed to the rising cloud of debt, the increases in unemployment, the gradual slipping away of what money the middle man and the poor man have into the hands of the big masters, all the time we have prayed and shouted, begged and pleaded, and now we hear the message once again from Roosevelt that he cannot touch the big fortunes.
Hope for more through
We must now become awakened! We must know the truth and speak the truth. There is no use to wait 3 more years. It is not
Now, my friends, it makes no difference who is President or who is Senator.
1. That the size of the big man's fortune would be reduced so as to give the masses at the bottom enough to wipe out all poverty; and
2. That the hours of labor would be so reduced that all would share in the work to be done and in consuming the abundance mankind produced.
Hundreds of words were used by Mr. Roosevelt to make these promises to the people, but they were made over and over again. He reiterated these pledges even after he took his oath as President. Summed up, what these promises meant was: "Share our wealth."
When I saw him spending all his time of ease and recreation with the business partners of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with such men as the Astors, etc., maybe I ought to have had better sense than to have believed he would ever break down their big fortunes to give enough to the masses to end poverty--maybe some will think me weak for ever believing it all, but millions of other people were fooled the same as myself. I was like a drowning man grabbing at a straw, I guess. The face and eyes, the hungry forms of mothers and children, the aching hearts of students denied education were before our eyes, and when
So therefore I call upon the men and women of
There are thousands of share-our-wealth societies organized in the
We have nothing more for which we should ask the Lord. He has allowed this land to have too much of everything that humanity needs.
So in this
1. The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be reduced so that no one person shall own more than a few million dollars to the person. We would do this by a capital levy tax. On the first million that a man was worth we would not impose any tax. We would say, "All right for your first million dollars, but after you get that rich you will have to start helping the balance of us." So we would not levy any capital levy tax on the first million one owned. But on the second million a man owns we would tax that 1 percent, so that every year the man owned the second million dollars he would be taxed $10,000. On the third million we would impose a tax of 2 percent. On the fourth million we would impose a tax of 4 percent. On the fifth million we would impose a tax of 8 percent. On the sixth million we would impose a tax of 16 percent. On the seventh million we would impose a tax of 32 percent. On the eighth million we would impose a tax of 64 percent; and on all over the eighth million we would impose a tax of 100 percent. What this would mean is that the annual tax would bring the biggest fortune down to three or four million dollars to the person because no one could pay taxes very long in the higher brackets. But $3 to 4 million is enough for any one person and his children and his children's children. We cannot allow one to have more than that because it would not leave enough for the balance to have something.
2. We propose to limit the amount any one man can earn in 1 year or inherit to $1 million to the person.
3. Now, by limiting the size of the fortunes and incomes of the big men we will throw into the Government Treasury the money and property from which we will care for the millions of people who have nothing; and with this money we will provide a home and the comforts of home, with such common conveniences as radio and automobile, for every family in America, free of debt.
4. We guarantee food and clothing and employment for everyone who should work by shortening the hours of labor to thirty hours per week, maybe less, and to eleven months per year, maybe less. We would have the hours shortened just so much as would give work to everybody to produce enough for everybody; and if we were to get them down to where they were too short, then we would lengthen them again. As long as all the people working can produce enough of automobiles, radios, homes, schools, and theaters for everyone to have that kind of comfort and convenience, then let us all have work to do and have that much of heaven on earth.
5. We would provide education at the expense of the States and the United States for every child, not only through grammar school and high school but through to a college and vocational education. We would simply extend the
6. We would give a pension to all persons above 60 years of age in an amount sufficient to support them in comfortable circumstances, excepting those who earn $1,000 per year or who are worth $10,000.
7. Until we could straighten things out--and we can straighten things out in two months under our program--we would grant a moratorium on all debts which people owe that they cannot pay.
And now you have our program, none too big, none too little, but every man a king.
We owe debts in
Our plan would injure no one. It would not stop us from having millionaires--it would increase them tenfold, because so many more people could make a million dollars if they had the chance our plan gives them. Our plan would not break up big concerns. The only difference would be that maybe 10,000 people would own a concern instead of 10 people owning it.
But my friends, unless we do share our wealth, unless we limit the size of the big man so as to give something to the little man, we can never have a happy or free people. God said so! He ordered it.
We have everything our people need. Too much of food, clothes, and houses why not let all have their fill and lie down in the ease and comfort God has given us? Why not? Because a few own everything--the masses own nothing.
…. Let us dry the eyes of those who suffer; let us lift the hearts of the sad. There is plenty. There is more. Why should we not secure laws to do justice--laws that were promised to us--never should we have quibbled over the soldiers' bonus. We need that money circulating among our people. That is why I offered the amendment to pay it last year. I will do so again this year.
Why weep or slumber,
Land of brave and true,
With castles, clothing, and food for all
All belongs to you.
Ev'ry man a king, ev'ry man a king,
For you can be a millionaire;
But there's something belonging to others,
There's enough for all people to share.
When it's sunny June and December, too,
Or in the wintertime or spring,
There'll be peace without end,
Ev'ry neighbor a friend,
With ev'ry man a king.
Washington, D. C.
Kennedy inaugural, 1961:
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation" - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what
Finally, whether you are citizens of
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Mountaintop" speech, 1968:
I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
Robert Kennedy on the assassination of Martin Luther King
I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
And, the speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that propelled Barack Obama into national prominence:
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.
On behalf of the great state of
... crossroads of a nation,
My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in
OBAMA: But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.
While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in
Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after
And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.
OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant
They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous
They're both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.
And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
OBAMA: Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... )
... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of
... a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what 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; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.
OBAMA: And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, I say to you, tonight, we have more work to do... ... more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now they're having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour; more to do for the father I met who was losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her who have the grades, have the drive, have the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.
Now, don't get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get a head. And they want to.
Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.
Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn.
OBAMA: They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.
People don't expect -- people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in
In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.
John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they've defined his life. From his heroic service to
John Kerry believes in an
OBAMA: John Kerry believes in an
John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.
And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.
You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in
OBAMA: And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted -- the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service -- I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he's serving us?
I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.
OBAMA: Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.
John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in
John Kerry believes in
If there's a child on the south side of
If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.
If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work.
OBAMA: It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.
Now 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 anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal
There's not a black
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the
OBAMA: In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in 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 that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.
That's not what I'm talking. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
OBAMA: Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.
I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across
I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.
America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim it's promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.
Thank you very much, everybody.
God bless you.
Well, I guess we know now that the hope that John Kerry would win the election over George Bush didn’t go anywhere, and that the policies of greed and manipulation of the boyz in charge have led us to the brink of economic, political, moral, and planetary collapse….
But, Happy Fourth of July anyway. We still have our ideals. We still make good things happen, and we take care of each other.
I’m up for a hot dog and a nice big slice of watermelon.