In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this country to escape religious intolerance. They were also looking for freedom from political turmoil, warfare, poverty, famine and disease. They were looking for a new beginning, a new hope in a new land.
While they endured unimaginable hardships, their courage, determination, and hard work made them stronger because they were unified in purpose.
For more than 250 years, we have faced many of those same hardships: political turmoil, warfare, poverty, disease, corruption, crises of conscience.
We struggled with fear. We struggled for answers. Through it all, we worked with each other, supported one another.
The leaders who spoke to past generations, roused the people, inspired them, and each leader that followed demonstrated that same commitment to our future as a nation.
“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” ― Washington
“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 our nature.” ― Lincoln
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ― FDR
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” ― Kennedy
As an 7th grade student, I sat and watched a new president, John F. Kennedy, as he called out to us, roused and inspired us.
“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of those problems which divide us.
“…if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor…
“…ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
“Let us begin anew…
Kennedy used words that were inclusive: “We… Together… Us.” He used words that caused us to think about our responsibilities to the country, the future and each other: “let us pledge… summon… endeavor…”
Kennedy’s unifying message to us: “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation…” inspired us to action. “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
The theme that has sustained us through crises and hardships has been hope, hope in our nation, hope in each other. Let us renew that hope. Let both sides create a new endeavor and summon our better angles to overcome the problems that divide us and together, triumph.
I will return January 4.