FROM THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
TERESA HEINZ KERRY
BOSTON, MA • JULY 27, 2004
Thank you, I love you, too. Thank you, Christopher.
Your father would be very proud of you and your brothers.
And I love you and I love our family. My name is Teresa Heinz
Kerry. And by now I hope it will come as no surprise that
I have something to say. Tonight, as I have done throughout
this campaign, I would like to speak to you from the heart.
Y a todos los Hispanos, y los Latinos; a tous les Franco
Americains, a tutti Italiani; a toda a familia Portugesa
e Brazileria; and to all the continental Africans living
in this country, and to all the new Americans in our country:
I invite you to join in our conversation, and together with
us work towards the noblest purpose of all: a free, good
and democratic society.
I am grateful — I am so grateful for the opportunity
to stand before you and to say a few words about my husband,
John Kerry, and why I firmly believe he that should be the
next president of the United States.
This is such a powerful moment for me. Like many other Americans,
like many of you, and like even more your parents and grandparents,
I was not born in this country. And as you have seen, I grew
up in East Africa, in Mozambique, in a land that was then
under a dictatorship.
My father, a wonderful, caring man who practiced medicine
for 43 years, and who taught me how to understand disease
and wellness, only got to vote for the first time when he
was 73 years old. That’s what happens in dictatorships.
As a young woman, I attended Witwatersrand University in
Johannesburg, South Africa, which was then not segregated.
But I witnessed the weight of apartheid everywhere around
me. And so, with my fellow students we marched in the streets
of Johannesburg against its extension into higher education.
This was the late 1950s, at the dawn of the civil rights
marches in America.
And as history records, our efforts in South Africa failed
and the Higher Education Apartheid Act passed. Apartheid
tightened its ugly grip, the Sharpsville riots followed,
and Nelson Mandela was arrested and sent to Robin Island.
I learned something then, and I believe it still. There
is a value in taking a stand whether or not anybody may be
noticing it and whether or not it is a risky thing to do.
And if even those who are in danger can raise their lonely
voices, isn’t it more that is required of all of us,
in this land where liberty had her birth?
have a very personal feeling about how special America is,
and I know how precious freedom is. It is a sacred gift,
sanctified by those who have lived it and those who have
died defending it. My right to speak my mind, to have a voice,
to be what some have called ”opinionated,” is
a right I deeply and profoundly cherish. And my only hope
is that, one day soon, women — who have all earned
their right to their opinions — instead of being called
opinionated, will be called smart and well-informed, just
Thank you. Merci.
Tonight I want to remember my mother’s warmth, generosity,
wisdom and hopefulness, and thank her for all the sacrifices
she made on our behalf, like so many other mothers.
And this evening, I want to acknowledge and honor the women
of this world, whose wise voices for much too long have been
excluded and discounted. It is time — it is time for
the world to hear women’s voices, in full and at last.
In the past year, I have been privileged to meet with Americans
all across this land. They voiced many different concerns,
but one they all share was about America’s role in
the world — what we want this great country of ours
to stand for.
To me, one of the best faces America has ever projected
is the face of a Peace Corps volunteer. That face symbolizes
this country: young, curious, brimming with idealism and
hope — and a real, honest compassion. Those young people
convey an idea of America that is all about heart and creativity,
generosity and confidence, a practical, can-do sense and
a big, big smile.
For many generations of people around this globe, that is
what America has represented. A symbol of hope, a beacon
brightly lit by the optimism of its people — people
coming from all over the world. Americans believed that they
could know all there is to know, build all there is to build,
break down any barrier, tear down any wall. We sent men to
the moon, and when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo
to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn, and Hubble to touch
the very edges of the universe in the very dawn of time.
Americans showed the world what can happen when people believe
in amazing possibilities.
And, that, for me, is the spirit of America — the
America you and I are working for in this election. It is
the America that people all across this nation want to restore — from
Iowa to California, from Florida to Michigan, and from Washington
State to my home of Pennsylvania.
It is the America the world wants to see, shining, hopeful
and bright once again. And that is the America that my husband
John Kerry wants to lead. John believes in a bright future.
He believes that we can and will invent the technologies,
new materials and the conservation methods of the future.
He believes that alternative fuels will guarantee that not
only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our
dependence on foreign oil, but also that our economy will
forever become independent of this need.
We can, and we will, create good, competitive and sustainable
jobs while still protecting the air we breathe, the water
we drink and the health of our children, because good environmental
policy is good economics. John believes that we can, and
we will, give every family and every child access to affordable
health care, a good education, and the tools to become self-reliant.
And John believes we must, and we should, recognize the
immense value of the caregivers in our country — those
women and men who nurture and care for children, for elderly
parents, for family members in need. These are the people
who build and support our most valuable assets — our
families. Isn’t it time — isn’t it time
that we began working to give parents more opportunity with
their children, and wouldn’t it be wonderful for parents
to be able to afford a full and good family life?
With John Kerry as president, we can, and we will, protect
our nation’s security without sacrificing our civil
liberties. In short, John believes that we can, and we must,
lead the world — as America, unique among nations,
always should — by showing the face, not of its fears,
but of our hopes.
And John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old-fashioned
way, by putting his life on the line for his country. And
no one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will — and
he will always, always be first in the line of fire.
But he also knows the importance of getting it right. For
him, the names of many friends inscribed in the Vietnam Memorial,
that cold stone, testify to the awful toll exacted by leaders
who mistake stubbornness for strength.
And that is why, as president, my husband will not fear
disagreement or dissent. He believes that our voices — yours
and mine — must be the voices of freedom. And if we
do not speak, neither does she.
In America, the true patriots are those who dare speak truth
to power. And the truth that we must speak now is that America
has responsibilities that it is time for us to accept again.
With John Kerry as president, global climate change and
other threats to the health of our planet will begin to be
reversed. With John Kerry as president, the alliances that
bind the community of nations and that truly make our country
and the world a safer place, will be strengthened once more.
And the Americans John and I have met in the course of this
campaign all want America to provide hopeful leadership again.
They want America to return to its moral bearings. It is
not — it is not a moralistic America they seek, it
is a moral nation that understands and willingly shoulders
its obligations; a moral nation that rejects thoughtless
and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions.
And it is a moral nation that leads through the power of
its ideas and the power of its example.
We can and we should join together to make the most of this
great gift that we have all been given, this gift of freedom,
and this gift of America. In his first inaugural, speaking
to a nation on the eve of war, Abraham Lincoln said, ”We
must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it
must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords
of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot
grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this
broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again
touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of
Today, the better angels of our nature are just waiting
to be summoned. We only require a leader who is willing to
call on them, a leader willing to draw again the mystic chords
of our national memory and remind us of all that we, as a
people, everyday leaders, can do; of all that we as a nation
stand for and of all the immense possibility that still lies
I think I’ve found that guy. And I’m married
to him. John Kerry will give us back our faith in America.
He will restore our faith in ourselves and in the sense of
limitless opportunity that has always been America’s
gift to the world. Together we will lift everyone up. We
have to. It’s possible. And you know what? It’s
the American thing to do.
Goodnight and God bless you.
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