BOSTON – The following is a speech delivered by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, July 29, 2004:
My fellow Americans, good evening. Forty-four years ago, during a time of grave danger, in an election that altered the course of history, I cast my first ballot to help put a courageous senator from Massachusetts in the White House. This fall, I look forward to repeating that experience. I have been privileged to know Senator John Kerry for twenty years. I look forward soon to knowing President John Kerry because in this era of renewed danger, I want a chief executive who has the experience and sound judgment to keep America strong, secure, and safe. I want a president who will lead in the tradition not only of JFK, but also of America's greatest generation- Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. I want a president like John Kerry who will keep faith with our military families because he knows what it is like to wear the uniform and to put his life on the line for country and flag. We all know that throughout history, freedom has been opposed by dictators and aggressors, fascists, and communists. Examples of each still plague the world. But in recent years, we have seen arise a new and evil tide-terrorism. As president, John Kerry will lead America and its allies to defeat and destroy terrorist groups around the world. Our adversaries have nothing to offer their followers except hatred, destruction, and death.
America is a champion of liberty, prosperity, and peace. John Kerry knows that it is not enough just to say that America wants to defeat terror and rid the world of evil. Wanting something is not the same as doing something. You have to have a strategy that works. As president, John Kerry will mobilize the full arsenal of American power including military, intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and the enduring inspiration of democratic ideals. He will respond firmly to the present danger while acting wisely to prevent a future generation of anti-American terrorists from arising and gaining footholds around the world. He will use intelligence to shape policy, not twist intelligence to justify policy. And he will stop the spread of the globe's most dangerous weapons by concentrating on where those weapons are, instead of where they are not. In our confrontation with terror, John Kerry will not seek a truce; he will not expect surrender; and he will not settle for stalemate. His goal will be victory. Under his leadership, we will persist until we prevail.
Now some believe that our country should never take action unless the world agrees. John Kerry believes that America must always explain its purposes and strive to gain the world's support. And he knows that if we want others to help with the dangers that most threaten us we must help with the dangers that most threaten them. But have no doubt, John Kerry will do whatever it takes to defend America whether others approve or not. In a perilous world, it matters that our nominee has never ducked from a fight- or gone missing in battle- or left a buddy behind. He will be ready on day one to serve our nation as commander in chief. As a hero in Vietnam, a prosecutor in court, and a legislator on Capitol Hill, John Kerry has always been a warrior for truth and right. Tonight, he will summon us all to join with him in a new mission, not simply to take back the White House- not only to make America strong at home- but also to restore respect for America around the world.
I was not born in this country. When I was an infant, Nazi stormtroopers marched into my native Czechoslovakia. After the war, my nation was taken over by Communists. So I learned early in life that there is much evil in this world. But I also learned early about a land across the sea where freedom is cherished and freedom's allies helped and defended. At the age of eleven, I sailed like many before me past the Statue of Liberty to experience the gift of growing up in the world's greatest democracy. I love our country. And over the years, I have seen the reasons for that love reinforced countless times in the lives not only of immigrants and refugees, but also those of millions abroad who have been shielded by American troops, aided by American assistance and inspired by American ideals.
I am supporting John Kerry for president because this is the kind of America I believe in. An America whose word is trusted; whose ideals lift people up; whose actions inspire all who cherish liberty; and whose president is truly a uniter not a divider, both abroad and here at home, from sea to shining sea. My fellow Americans, this November, we can alter the course of history by giving John Kerry and John Edwards a mandate to make us one country again-and to return the land we love to its proper place as a beacon of truth and hope for all people.