July 29, 2004
Gen. Wesley K. Clark's speech to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July 29, 2004
Thank you, my fellow Democrats. I am an American soldier.
Our country was attacked. We are at war. Our nation is at risk, engaged in a life-or- death struggle against terrorists who are seeking nuclear and biological weapons. And as I speak tonight, our armed forces are in combat.
Our freedoms were won in war, and protected by generation after generation of selfless service and sacrifice. From Bunker Hill to Bastogne, from the frozen hills of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam, from Kabul to Baghdad, American men and women in uniform have served with honor; they've given us so much, and they've asked for so little.
Tonight we honor them: our soldiers, our veterans, their families. I want to thank my wife, Gert, my son Wesley, his wife and son and all the military families who stand behind those who serve. Now I ask you to observe with me a moment of silence to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could have the freedom we exercise tonight.
War. I've been there. Heard the thump of enemy mortars. Seen the tracers fly. Bled on the battlefield. Recovered in hospitals. Received and obeyed orders. Sent men and women into battle. Awarded medals, comforted families, attended funerals. And this soldier has news for you: Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the best defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said it best: "Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth."
This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag - our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We saluted this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us.
The safety of our country demands urgent and innovative measures to strengthen our armed forces. The safety of our country demands credible intelligence. The safety of our country demands cooperation with our allies. The safety of our country demands making more friends and fewer enemies. The safety of our country demands an end to the doctrinaire, ineffective policies that currently grip Washington.
Enough is enough! A safe America - a just America - that's what we want, that's what we need. And with John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what we will achieve.
John Kerry has lived the values of service and sacrifice. In the Navy, as a prosecutor, as a Senator. He proved his physical courage under fire. He's proved his moral courage, too. John Kerry fought a war and came home to fight for peace - his combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need in a Commander-in-Chief.
And John Edwards, with his leadership and competence, will be a great member of this command team. John Kerry is a man who - in times of war - can lead as a warrior, and who - in times of peace - will heed the call of scripture to beat swords into plowshares. John Kerry will lead America with strength and wisdom. He has the will to fight, and the moral courage born in battle to pursue and secure a strong peace.
Under John Kerry we will attack and destroy the terrorist threat to America. He'll join the pantheon of great wartime Democrats.
Great Democrats like Woodrow Wilson, who led us to victory in World War I. Great Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who turned back the tide of fascism to win World War II. Great Democrats like John Kennedy, who stood firm and steered us safely through the Cuban Missile Crisis. And great Democrats like Bill Clinton, who confronted ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and with diplomacy - backed by force - brought peace to a shattered land.
My fellow Americans, Democrats are leaders. Democrats are fighters. John Kerry is a leader and fighter and he will be a great Commander-in-Chief.
John Kerry knows that the power of America is our values and ideals. John Kerry knows that our soldiers embody the best of America's values: Service. Sacrifice. Courage. Compassion.
They're serving to build something greater than themselves. They're serving to build something worth fighting for. They're serving to build something worth dying for. They are a company of heroes. Everyone who fights for the best in American life is also a hero: Firefighters. Police officers. Teachers, and so many others.
John Kerry's time to lead this company of heroes has arrived. Right here. Right now. In this town. Tonight, from this place, we set out together to put our country back on track to security, freedom and opportunity. America: Hear this soldier.
Choose a leader whose physical courage, moral values and sound judgment will - with the grace of God and our determined commitment - strengthen our country, protect our liberty, renew our spirit and secure a future for our children that is worthy of our heritage.
Make John Kerry the next president of the United States.
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