Democrats' Radio Response

The following is a transcript of the Democrats radio response to President Bush's weekly radio address:

Good Morning, I'm U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

As I give this address, I know that the nation is bracing for the effects of Hurricane Rita to hit our nation on the heels of Hurricane Katrina. As we face this new challenge, I want to encourage the American people to remember our strength.

Living in a democracy, at its core, is about the power to choose. Over the last month we have, as a nation, been presented with a choice. Whether we open our hearts and hands to hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans from the Gulf region - or not. Whether we integrate them into our communities and give them hope for a brighter future - or not. It is clear from the way the people of this nation have responded to those in need that we have chosen to help our neighbors rebuild their lives.

I'm especially proud of my home state of Arkansas. Our faith community and state officials have seamlessly banded together to find housing and services for our Gulf coast neighbors in a way that respects their dignity. Individual families have opened up their hearts and homes to those with nowhere else to go. And the donations of money and materials have poured in.

Our state's school system is also preparing to welcome many new students with open arms. I know this outpouring of support is not limited to my state but can be seen in state after state across our great nation. Hurricanes can bring tragedy and destruction on our shores. But in their wake, Americans have traditionally returned to our roots of civic mindedness and selfless public service.

Hurricane Katrina inspired us to value competence, good governance and compassion. Above all, it has reminded us that we are connected in unique and lasting ways that transcend race and class. In the end we are all Americans. And that is our strength. It is a strength that allows us to reach out to those in need, not out of pity or arrogance, but with respect for their humanity and their place in our American family.

The sights and stories of neighbor helping neighbor have also been a testament to our faith. Faith that motivates us to act quickly at the sight of suffering. Faith that motivates us to go not only the first, but also the last mile of the way. Faith that renews in us the sense of community that is the essence of the American spirit.

As I said at the outset, living in a democracy, at its core, is about the power to choose.

We'll get through the devastation of Katrina and Rita because we choose to. We'll be a more unified nation after these hurricanes because we choose to. We'll be a stronger nation because of these hurricanes because we choose to. And long after our Gulf region is rebuilt, we must remember this renewed spirit of selfless service for the less fortunate and work toward making sure that every American has the opportunity to live hopeful lives. In the end, we must let that renewed spirit of selfless service be Katrina and Rita's greatest legacy.

May God bless us as we rebuild our land. May God comfort those of us who are recovering from loss. May God keep us as we move forward with a renewed spirit of service to our nation. God bless each of you and God bless the United States of America.