Saturday, February 14, 2009

Obama's Speech in Springfield, Honoring Lincoln's Bicentennial.

President Barack Obama delivered this speech in Springfield, Illinois, February 12, 2009.

If you missed it, I recommend you check it out. Skillful, eloquent, moving, unifying. Obama at his best.

Here is the video link courtesy MSNBC and Keith Olbermann.

Here is an excerpt:
I cannot know if I am right. But I suspect that his devotion to union came not from a belief that government always had the answer. It came not from a failure to understand our individual rights and responsibilities. This rugged rail-splitter, born in a log cabin of pioneer stock; who cleared a path through the woods as a boy; who lost a mother and a sister to the rigors of frontier life; who taught himself all he knew – this man, our first Republican President, knew, better than anyone, what it meant to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. He understood that strain of personal liberty and self-reliance at the heart of the American experience.

But he also understood something else. He recognized that while each of us must do our part, work as hard as we can, and be as responsible as we can – in the end, there are certain things we cannot do on our own. There are certain things we can only do together. There are certain things only a union can do.

Only a union could harness the courage of our pioneers to settle the American west, which is why he passed a Homestead Act giving a tract of land to anyone seeking a stake in our growing economy.

Only a union could foster the ingenuity of our farmers, which is why he set up land-grant colleges that taught them how to make the most of their land while giving their children an education that let them dream the American dream.

Only a union could speed our expansion and connect our coasts with a transcontinental railroad, and so, even in the midst of civil war, he built one. He fueled new enterprises with a national currency, spurred innovation, and ignited America’s imagination with a national academy of sciences, believing we must, as he put it, add "the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery…of new and useful things." And on this day, that is also the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth, let us renew that commitment to science and innovation once more

Only a union could serve the hopes of every citizen – to knock down the barriers to opportunity and give each and every person the chance to pursue the American dream. Lincoln understood what Washington understood when he led farmers, craftsmen, and shopkeepers to rise up against an empire. What Roosevelt understood when he lifted us from Depression, built an arsenal of democracy, and created the largest middle-class in history with the GI Bill. It’s what Kennedy understood when he sent us to the moon.

All these presidents recognized that America is – and always has been – more than a band of thirteen colonies, more than a bunch of Yankees and Confederates, more than a collection of Red States and Blue States. We are the United States of America and there isn’t any dream beyond our reach, any obstacle that can stand in our way, when we recognize that our individual liberty is served, not negated, by a recognition of the common good.

The full transcript of the prepared speech is here. (But you'll miss the ad libs, particularly one allusion to the Commerce Secretary fiasco.)

This photo is adapted from one I found on Flickr: Obama Springfield Lincoln 3, posted by Inside Obama 08.

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