Remarks of Senator John Kerry
Kick Off of Journey to Boston on Americaís Freedom Trail
Aurora, CO
Friday, July 23, 2004
(As Prepared for Delivery)
 
Today, weíre setting off on a journey that begins here at my birthplace and will end in Boston at Americaís birthplace.  The next time Iím back this way itíll be official: Iíll be your nominee for president of the United States.
 
From there, weíre off to the White House and to an America thatís stronger at home and respected in the world. An America where the values of family, faith, and service arenít just words on a page, theyíre the values we live by and the choices we make.
 
Iím so glad to be joined here this morning by my family, Teresa, Alex, Vanessa, Chris, and Andre Ė and to be standing with the next Vice President of the United States, John Edwards and his wonderful wife Elizabeth!
 
For the last two weeks, Iíve been lucky to have two Edwards on board helping make decisions, planning campaign stops, giving political advice Ė from both a male and female perspective.  But enough about Jack and Emma Claire!
 
I also want to take a minute to recognize all the veterans that came out this afternoon. Thank you for your service and for being here today.  I canít think of a better band of brothers to help me out on this campaign!
 
Now, weíre starting with you Colorado!  But when we leave here today, weíre heading east, blazing Americaís freedom trail all the way to Boston.  Tomorrow weíre heading to Iowa to thank the voters who gave me a hearing when few thought I had a chance. Then itís off to Ohio and Florida, where weíre going to see that this time around not only will every vote count, but every single vote will be counted.
 
And then weíre going to a Virginia naval base to show our unwavering support for an America with the strongest military in the world Ö for an America thatís respected and not just feared Ö and for all the American soldiers standing a post around the world.   Then itís off to Philadelphia where we first declared our independence. And then to Boston, where weíre going to make another revolutionary stand for America.
 
But for me, itís only right to start this journey at the place that gave me my start.  As you can imagine, this city holds a special place in my heart.  When my father was a pilot in World War II, I was born at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, not too far from where we are today.  Back then, you could actually look out the window of the hospital and see the dome of the capitol building.  Now, Iím not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? Yup, ladies and gentlemen, you got it.  Iím not making this up. I was born in the West Wing!
 
The word Aurora literally means ďdawn.Ē  And just spending a few minutes here in Colorado, itís easy to tell why the sun is always rising on Aurora.  When America moved west, the town quickly became known as the Gateway to the Rockies, and not because Colfax ran from East Aurora through the foothills.  It was the people in Aurora that made the difference. Their deep faith, their strong sense of community, and their hopeful confidence that Americaís best days were still ahead.  I guess itís no surprise that some people said that Aurora had the longest Main Street in America.
 
In many ways, Aurora today is living proof of the limitless possibilities of progress.  Fitzsimmons is now a cutting-edge medical facility for treatment, research, and teaching. Since World War II, this small town of 3,000 has become a thriving city of 300,000.  Yet the people here in Aurora have never lost their Main Street values and their boundless sense of optimism.  I donít know, maybe itís something in the drinking water, but I can tell you, even though I only spent a little time here, Iíve always been proud that I have some roots in the West.
 
I remember my father telling me stories about his time here and about his years in the Army Air Corps.  He helped me understand at an early age that we are all put on this earth for something greater than ourselves Ė and thatís something my mother taught me, too.  She led me when I was a Cub Scout and was proud of her years as a Girl Scout leader.
 
Through the power of their example, they both taught me that the most fundamental values in life is service to others.  During the war, my mother wrote to my father, ďYou have no idea of the ways in which one can be useful right now.  Thereís something for everyone to do.Ē  My motherís words ring just as true today as they did fifty years ago.  Thereís something for everyone to do, thereís so much work to be done.  Thatís why Iím here.  Thatís why Iím running for president.  And thatís why in six days Iím going to take your hopes and dreams with me to Boston and weíre going to build a stronger America.
 
So many Americans today are living up to the responsibility of service Ė when they swear a Scout oath, help out in a hospital or homeless shelter, or tutor in a local school.   Others are on the front lines, whether thatís in our military overseas, or in our police or fire departments here at home.
 
People like Ann Deas from Denver whoís here with us this morning.  Ann volunteers at the Childrenís Hospital downtown, where she cheers up sick kids.  And people like David King, who signed up for AmeriCorps as a teacher in a hard-pressed neighborhood because he wanted to give something back to his country.  David knows that his students arenít asking for any
guarantees in life Ė they're only asking for the tools they need to fulfill their own potential.  The work that both Ann and David do shows that each of us has the potential to make the world just a little bit better.
 
Believe it or not, in the last week alone, more than 20,000 Americans like them have written into our campaign to tell us their own stories of service.  Each of them is making a difference in their communities and each of them is making our country stronger.
 
Thatís what Americaís all about.
 
So we all have a responsibility to serve.    We all have to do our part.  But itís up to us to give everyone who can contribute the chance to do so.
 
Right now, for too many Americans, the skyrocketing cost of college is standing between their commitment and their capacity to serve.  As president, I will offer half a million Americans a year an opportunity to give back to our country.  And Iíll do so, by giving four years of college tuition to those who give two years of service to America.  For some, that means teaching kids to read. For others, itís keeping our parks clean or protecting our homeland.
 
Others will serve while theyíre in college, dedicating afternoons and weekends to helping children learn to read and write. And  weíll invest $10 million a year in a Citizen Patriots Fund, to support a new generation of social entrepreneurs who are engaged in new and creative ways to serve America.
 
The Patriots Fund will also help those whoíve served in our military or Peace Corps abroad, serve in their communities when they come home.  I want all Americans to have the same chance to contribute that I did when I returned from Vietnam.
 
National service is an important step to building a stronger America.  But we also have to embrace the other values that bring us together as one America:  faith and family, hard work and responsibility, and opportunity for all.
 
During the course of this campaign, Iíve met young people who want nothing more than to be able to find a job in the place they were raised.
 
Iíve met steelworkers, mineworkers and autoworkers who are now laid off workers and watched their jobs shipped overseas.  They canít afford their health insurance and they donít know where to turn.
 
Iíve spent time with seniors who have worked for a lifetime but canít pay for their medicines and can hardly make ends meet.
 
And Iíve talked with parents full of hope and ambition for their children, but theyíre worried that they wonít be able to afford to send their kids to college.
 
These Americans deserve a chance to have their dreams fulfilled not broken before their eyes.  They deserve leadership that fights as hard for their jobs as they do for their own.
 
Let me tell you what John Edwards and I value.
 
We value good-paying jobs that actually let our families hope for their children, save for their future, and actually get ahead.  An America where the middle class is not being squeezed, but doing better.
 
And thatís why we have an economic plan that will revitalize manufacturing, put America back to work, and create new, good-paying jobs.
 
We value an America that exports products, not jobs Ė and we believe American workers should never have to subsidize the loss of their own job.
 
Thatís why we have a plan to close the tax loopholes that pay companies to ship our jobs overseas.  Instead, we will reward companies that keep good paying jobs where they belong Ė in America.
 
We value American workers and we will give them a fair playing field.  Because if you give American workers a fair playing field, thereís no one in the world that the American worker canít compete against.
 
We value giving all our children a first-rate education, with smaller classes and better paid teachers, and opening the doors of college to all Americans.
 
And thatís why we have a plan to invest in our schools, pay our teachers what they deserve, and cuts the cost of college.
 
We value affordable health care that is a right, not a privilege for every American.  In four years, four million people have lost their health insurance.  Your premiums are up.  Your co-payments are up.  Your deductibles are hitting record levels. We can do better.
 
We have a plan to get the waste, the greed, and the paperwork out of our health care system and save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums.
 
We value an America that is truly free and independent of Mideast oil.
 
We have a plan to invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and the cars of the future, so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
 
And we value a strong military and strong alliances, so no young American is ever put in harmís way because we insisted on going it alone.
 
In our Administration, weíll never go to war because we want to, weíll only go to war because we have to.  And weíll stand by our soldiers when they go off to war and stand by them when they return.
 
These arenít Democratic values.  Theyíre not Republican values.  Theyíre American values. Theyíre the shared values we believe in. And thatís what weíre going to Boston to fight for.  Because if we honor our values, we can build an America thatís stronger at home and respected in the world.
 
My friends, this is the most important election of our lifetime.   Our health care is on the line. Our jobs are on the line.  Our childrenís future is on the line.  Americaís role in the world is on the line.
 
We can provide a new direction for America if we remember that in all the great movements for civil rights and equal rights, the environment and economic justice for all, we have come together as one America to give life to our highest ideals.
 
For the next three months, John Edwards and I are going to work day in and day out, beginning right here in Colorado, with all of you.
 
For the next six days, weíre going to travel to other great places in America to talk about our hopes and vision for our country.  From the small towns in Iowa to the beach towns in Florida Ö from the ships of Virginia to the public squares of Philadelphia, weíre going to blaze Americaís freedom trail.  And, on Thursday, weíre going to wind up in Boston, where the next journey will begin -- the journey that will take us to the White House on November 2nd.
 
My friends, this election is in your hands more than ours.  Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, knock on their doors, enlist in our cause.
 
We can do this.  Weíre the can-do people.  Weíre the optimists. We just need to lift ourselves up, reach for the next dream, and look to the next horizon.  What the people in Colorado have always known is still true: Americaís best days are still ahead of us.
 
Thank you and God bless America.