United States Senator Russell D. Feingold
"What We Can Do For Our Country"
Sunday, November 11, 2001
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

{Introductions relevant to University of Michigan appearance.}

Well, today is two months to the day, the day: rivaled only by December 7, 1941.

Each of us has our own experience or story to tell about September 11th and the days since. For me, I was in Washington that day, in my apartment, when it became clear the attacks were not just on New York City, but also on Washington. I did something I had never done before, I invited all of my staff members to come over to my apartment which, in many ways, is not as nicely furnished as my dorm room was thirty years ago. We were concerned and we knew we had to get them out of the Hart building. Then, as they moved us out of my apartment building about an hour later and told us we had to go down the street farther away from the U.S. Capitol, we could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon. Then a few days later, I went to view the Pentagon site itself, and then, a few weeks after that, a visit to ground zero in New York. And it's true, it's hard to comprehend it even after you've seen it, but it is indescribable, unbelievable. Then, On October 15th, I was in Wisconsin, and I got a call from my office. Of course my office and Senator Daschle's are right next door to each other. Twenty-eight of my staff members are in the closest proximity to the anthrax attack.

So, I've been out of my office for a month. Even a couple of weeks ago they checked my apartment building for anthrax one night as well. I was out of both office and lodging at the same time! But of course, I can kid around about this a little bit because we are the lucky ones. We're all alive and well and so many are not.

For me, what was especially chilling, though, was that it just so happened that a few short weeks in August before this disaster, I had the chance to go to Hawaii for the first time in my life and I got a tour of Pearl Harbor from the Admiral. Of course, I always knew about that event, but I never quite felt it until that day. What I remember more then anything else was the movie they showed before the tour of the Harbor. The film showed a group of young sailors who had been a part of a glee club that had been in a competition the night before at a beautiful Hawaiian hotel. And they won the glee club competition. Their reward: to sleep in the next morning on the ship, the USS Arizona, where they went to their deaths. Still, the events of December 7, 1941 seemed incredible to me, they seemed of another, very different, time. But, on September 11, they all became very real. Surprisingly, when I saw the second tower hit, on September 11, 2001, my first thought was of those young men from the Pearl Harbor glee club, so many years ago.

And it is in that spirit that I speak to another younger generation when we remember the veterans of previous generations on this Veterans Day. As you know, we sometimes give a parade but we don't always follow through, especially when it comes to healthcare for our veterans. We too often are too slow to admit the effects of war, as with Vietnam and the effects of agent orange. Many of our Veterans don't even get their benefits and don't know about their benefits. So the first thing I suggest that we can do for our country is to say "thank you" on this Veterans Day; but not leave it at that for these veterans today who are in harm's way, and their families in this conflict, and for those from WWII, and Korea, and Vietnam, and the Gulf War, and for all the others. We must remember, but we must also ensure adequate healthcare and adequate housing. And we must listen to their lessons and warnings about the costs of war. Indeed, as we express gratitude to prior generations of veterans, I can tell you that so many of my thoughts and feelings since September 11th have been about generations that I have met, and watched, and learned from, including, and especially recently: you. This is why I am so pleased and honored to be here tonight.

Now, one of the most famous calls to a generation, and an enormous inspiration to my generation, were John F. Kennedy's famous words in his 1961 inaugural address. I assume you all know this: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." I was only seven years old but I can remember seeing this live from my second grade class. It was a call to public service that was full of optimism. And that optimism and hope came through, despite the fact that it was a period of significant fear given the dominance of the Cold War, and our very real belief in the threat of nuclear destruction of our own country, and of the whole world.

Naturally, every generation speaks of its trials and inspirations. My parents talked about the Great Depression and the New Deal. The World War II Generation, now known as the "greatest generation," spoke of both the war and post war recovery. We, of the baby boom generation take some pride in the flowering of the civil rights movement, and the beginnings of the modern environmental and women's movements, and for some of us, the protests we were involved in against the war in Vietnam.

Yet, as we in my generation get older, and Bob Dylan's turning 60, and your teenagers start pointing out that some of your references "make no sense," then we begin to realize what we did not adequately understand or anticipate or prepare for. Some of us baby-boomers who, of course, have much work left to do, are feeling some of those doubts. And many of us feel we must to turn to you -- for ourselves, for our own kids, for our grandchildren, for our neighbors, and for you, and for the future of the nation and this world. Which is why the title of my talk is: "What we can do for our country."

Let me spend a few minutes talking about this new era, about this fight against terrorism, about this post September 11th world, about some ways where I'm certain you could already begin to make a difference.


Domestic Aspects of the Fight Against Terrorism

Let me touch on two aspects of this fight against terrorism, and then a bit about issues salient prior to September 11th that must be revived in the near future as well.

Now, the first aspect about the fight against terrorism is within our own borders. We need your help in striking the right balance between the legitimate needs of law enforcement, on the one hand and the protection of civil liberties and the Bill of Rights on the other.

I can tell you I sure could use some allies on this. As you may know, I was recently the only member of the United States Senate to vote against what is generally called the "antiterrorism bill." It was 98 to 1. But what the bill was actually titled by the time we got to vote on it was the USA Patriot Act. Now, voting against something called that is not exactly what I'd call fun. It's not exactly a politician's idea of a good time.

But the reactions I've received since that time have been interesting. They have been more positive then I expected. Of course, some of the letters and e mails are some of the saltiest I've received to date, which I won't share with you now, perhaps after the speech. Let me just give you two examples, one positive and one negative to give you a flavor of the responses. This is from a gentleman from Madison, Wisconsin. "Dear Senator Feingold, A while ago I wrote you a nasty letter concerning your endorsement of Mr. Ashcroft. I said at the time that you went against my values and lost my future vote. I would like to recant. I think your decision to go against the Patriot Bill was bold and shows your genuine concerns for civil liberties." I like that one. This one is from a George Jetson; address: 100 Spacewalk, Seattle Washington. Mr. Jetson writes "You, despite your claims of supporting the good people of Wisconsin, are a poor example of an American. Just because these sick people haven't attacked your home state. You are in my opinion a fool. You are the type of person, a supposed leader of this great nation that creates an air of complacency that makes me sick. I hope you lose any future elections. In my opinion you are not a man, you are a complete, disgusting, mommy-missing wimp. You are an embarrassment to America," so Mr. Jetson wrote.

But why would I vote against it? It's a time of major crisis. It's about our very lives, all of our lives. It is about self-defense. Didn't you say Senator Feingold that 90% of the bill was ok? All of this is true, but it is also true that the USA Patriot Act upsets the critical balance of power between law enforcement and big government versus civil liberties and our need to protect ourselves. Not only was the process outrageous in which there were almost no amendments and no debate allowed. Let me assure you it wasn't just that. It was the merits of the bill as well.

Two quick examples: the provisions of this bill were not necessarily tailored to the terrorism issue. For example, if you use a computer at work or here at the University and it turns out that you violated one of the rules of the University or an employer, under this bill, the government can then come in to your dean or supervisor and ask to monitor the person who used that computer indefinitely, regardless of any evidence of criminal action, let alone terrorism. One other example I want to share, is sometimes referred to as the "sneak and peek" provision, which is the ability of law enforcement, given by this bill, in much broader circumstances to be able, without giving you notice, to actually come into your house and look around without you knowing it, and not telling you until perhaps much later that they were there. This bill seems to take a very rare practice and makes it standard procedure in violation of our 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

But, Senator Feingold, the bill sunsets in four years, and in four years we could get rid of these provisions. Tell that to the Japanese Americans, Italian Americans, and German Americans who were incarcerated for years in WWII. Tell them its ok to violate the Constitution for four years and then stop. It's not ok. It's not ok Senator Feingold, what about the spirit and the necessity of this time of unity? Well, I submit to you that unity is not the same as unanimity, certainly not in a democracy and especially, especially, when the fundamental protections of the Bill of Rights are at stake. These are the kinds of times when we have made serious mistakes in the past. Our national consciousness still bears the stain and the scars of those events: the Alien and Sedition Acts, the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, as I have mentioned the internment of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans during World War II, the blacklisting of supposed communist sympathizers during the McCarthy era, and the surveillance and harassment of antiwar protesters, including, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Vietnam War. We must not allow these pieces of our past to become prologue. Even in our great land, wartime has sometimes brought us the greatest tests of our Bill of Rights.

Of course, given the enormous anxiety and fears generated by the events of September 11th , it would not have been difficult to anticipate some of these reactions both by our government and by some of our people. And, of course, there is no doubt, that if we lived in a police state it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications. If we lived in a country that allowed government to hold people in jail indefinitely only based on what they write or think or based on mere suspicion that they were up to no good, then, no doubt, no doubt, the government would discover and arrest more terrorists. But, that probably would not be a country in which people would want to live. That would not be a country that we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that country would not be America.

Now, I know striking the balance is not easy, especially now. And I know that perhaps I could be wrong. In fact, during those first few hours after the attacks, I kept remembering a sentence from a case I studied in law school. Not surprisingly, I didn't remember which case it was, who wrote the opinion, or what it was about, but this sentence kept going through my head and these were the words: "While the Constitution protects against the invasion of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact." I took these words as a challenge to my concerns about civil liberties at such a momentous time in our history; that we must be careful not to take civil liberties so literally and allow ourselves to be destroyed.

But upon reviewing the case itself, Kennedy versus Mendoza-Martinez, I found, that Justice Arthur Goldberg had made this statement, but then he ruled in favor of the civil liberties position in the case, which was about draft evasion. He elaborated: "It is fundamental that the great powers of the Congress to conduct war and regulate the Nation's foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances." Justice Goldberg concludes, "In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution."

So this challenge of the balancing of our security and civil liberties, therefore, goes all the way back to our nation's revolutionary generation and all the way to this day, to your generation. It's in your hands. You can, in your careers, in your lives, whether in law, in teaching, in government, or in business, or yes, if you wish, in elected office at all levels, help educate Americans about the role civil liberties play in our system. Help us avoid overreactions and help us avoid gutting the very foundations of our nation.

The International Fight Against Terrorism

Now, let me turn to what one might call the "international fight against terrorism." I'm sure this occurred to you before it did me, and you probably knew it on the morning of September 11, and that is that your generation will be especially charged with protecting all of our lives and our physical safety and that of our children and our grandchildren. Some say there is already an upsurge of new interest in government service in diplomatic careers, in the military, even the CIA, and in federal, and in state, and in local law enforcement. But the task itself, regardless of where or how you take it up, is to face and defeat the ability of anyone to inflict death, massacre, injury, illness, or even just the gnawing sensation of terrorism. What I've said to a few younger people, and this is my gut reaction, its seems like you have to help us sort of "outsmart them," not just be physically or militarily stronger than "them."

But who is "them?" What concerns me the most, what chills me the most, is that "them" is not necessarily clear. Of course it includes Usama bin Laden, and Al Qaeda and other terrorists whether in the Middle East or not, who would exploit ideology or religion or deprivation to accomplish terror. But "them" could be anyone who is willing to use our technology and our systems against us, be it in the Japanese subway, an Israeli pizza parlor, a Palestinian home or a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Now this, of course, suggests a broader topic than I can address tonight. But I would like to touch on what we perhaps can do together to weaken support for terrorism and extremists particularly and around those parts of the world that are much less fortunate than we are.

It has become something of a mantra but it is one that has to be. And that is that the enemy is not Islam. This is not a war against Islam. And it is an insult to Islam, and to the people of any faith to suggest so. No, your generation's international challenge is more complex than that and it is more complex than the rather simplistic dichotomy we in our generation grew up in--the Cold War and the United States versus the Soviet Union. Under your leadership, we must reach out to the one-fifth of humanity that is the Islamic world and we must reach even beyond to the many nations that are in dire straits.

In this new environment, we must understand the necessity of a positive image of our nation so that we may have allies in the fight against terrorism and the many related issues. In the post Cold War world, we must take far more seriously our role in the rest of the world. Both how we are perceived and what we actually do or don't do. More than anything else, this is what changed on September 11. Or, may I state more accurately, on September 11, we finally began to understand the consequences of not having made this realization earlier.

In some ways, I feel as if your generation was already warning us for several years now with your choices of activism: Your challenge to the American investment in sweat shop economies around the world, your work to expose the downside of globalization and GATT and NAFTA and fast track, not only for American workers but also for the people who are exploited overseas; your concern about international environmental cooperation and valid criticism of the Bush Administration's refusal to even sit at the table of the Kyoto Protocol; and your work on human rights and self determination, against oppression in places, where frankly, American foreign policy has sometimes enabled such oppression like the brutal treatment of the people of East Timor through Indonesian repression. In so many of these areas, you have been warning us about our image and about our conduct and I wish that more of us listened to you earlier, not because it would have prevented September 11, but because we would, as a nation, be in better shape or farther along in our efforts to take on the new international challenge we face; since we surely cannot go it alone.

We do face a severe challenge in some parts of the world in the way our nation is perceived but together we can change this and we must do so for our country and for ourselves. It seems that in too many places we are unfairly viewed as arrogant, self-centered, and obsessed with material wealth and not particularly interested in, or well informed about, other societies or cultures and sometimes it's suggested that we're not as committed to our own values as we pretend.

Here, I offer my own mea culpa. Our generation, me included, we failed to learn even one of the languages of the people of the rest of the world, including, of course, Arabic. My mother, who is 82, she knows five languages, but I didn't listen. Maybe I didn't want to take classes that were too hard or maybe the language classes were offered too early in the morning at Madison. That seemed like a lot of work. But it was a mistake. Let me just give you one example to give you an idea of how powerful learning other languages can be. Tom Friedman of the New York Times wrote recently that, "In April 1988 Saudi Arabia asked the United States to withdraw its newly appointed ambassador, Hume Horan, after only six months. New reports said King Fahd just didn't like the U.S. envoy. What the Saudis didn't like about him, though was that he was the best Arabic speaker in the State Department, and had used his language skills to engage all kinds of Saudis, including the kingdom's conservative religious leaders who were critical of the ruling family. The Saudis didn't want someone so adroit at penetrating their society, so, of course, we withdrew Mr. Horan."

There is both power and respect in knowing another people's languages and you can be the generation, you can be the generation that changes this "ugly American" aspect of our image and reality.

But, of course, this all goes well beyond knowing languages. It's also about our lack of knowledge of other countries' history, and culture, and politics. In 1990, how many American policymakers, let alone the American people, knew much of anything about places with names like, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and even Afghanistan. Yet these are many of the same places that have dominated our public policy and lives for many weeks or months during the past decade. Too often our young men and women have been asked to go to such unknown places to risk and even give their lives.

And today, for example, how many Americans, how many members of Congress can tell you much, if anything, about a small African country called Sierra Leone? I choose this example because I am the Chairman of the African Subcommittee and I know it better. I don't know if you saw this but on November 2, The Washington Post ran a front page article entitled, "Al Qaeda Cash Tied to the Diamond Trade" The story's lead? "The terrorist network led by Usama Bin Laden has reaped millions of dollars in the past three years from the illicit sale of diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone, according to U.S. and European Intelligence officials."

If these allegations are true, its explosive, and it should call attention to a critical point. No place on earth, least of all the vast and complicated and often troubled region of sub-Saharan Africa, can be overlooked in the global fight against terrorism. When President Bush stated on the campaign trail that, "while Africa may be important, it doesn't fit into the national strategic interests, as far as I can see them," he was wrong. He was wrong. There are pressing issues in Africa, from international crime, to terrorist threats, from trade and investment opportunities to global issues like infectious diseases and environmental degradation, that directly affects the safety and prosperity of Americans. It takes sophisticated understanding of the continent to respond to these threats and opportunities, and it will take a broad-based policy of engagement. Now, of course the article was talking about the same diamond trade that's funded the Revolutionary United Front's bloody campaign of atrocities in Sierra Leone, which has left a generation of amputees and orphans in its wake.

Earlier this year I visited Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown and I saw the overwhelming devastation in that country, and I added my voice to the many courageous Sierra Leoneans who have spoken out about the ugly fact that some people are getting rich as a result of this misery. Both long before and after that trip, I've been troubled by the nature of the opportunism that feeds on so many African conflicts. It attracts, not merely the greedy and the ruthless. The networks of arms brokers, fragile governments and precious resources can place whole, often unwitting, societies under the influence of those who would make terror their life's work. This is the reality: sometimes our country has directly meddled in some extremely troubled places in a manner that has tarnished our reputation. It, frankly, reminds the affected peoples of the colonialist abuses of other nations. Ask the people of Congo, ask the people of Angola. We must show all the world that we will learn about other nations and cultures. That we will act in our own interest but not only in our own short term interest but with an understanding that we will all suffer as Americans if we do not take on poverty, if we do not take on the illegal arms trade, if we do not take on the illicit diamond trade, and if we do not take the lead in fighting the spread of devastating infectious diseases, especially the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa but in other parts of the world as well.

And when it comes to HIV/AIDS, our policy must reflect our commitment to stop the single greatest scourge in human history--a pandemic that is killing millions and millions of innocent people. And so our government must not only contribute far more to the global AIDS fund, we must not only stand up to the big pharmaceutical companies that would let children die before allowing cheaper, generic drugs to be sold but we must also reflect our commitment to stop HIV/AIDS as part of our trade policy.

Now, last year I opposed the so-called AGOA bill, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Instead, I wrote the Senate version of a bill introduced in the House by Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., the HOPE Act; an alternative that we thought reflected some of the concerns about AGOA. Why did I oppose AGOA? Because again, it wasn't balanced. It was tilted toward the US and multinational corporate interests and against the trade and other needs of the African nations with whom we would wish to do business. Our bill insisted, on the other hand, that we acknowledge and act on the necessity of including a willingness to aggressively confront the AIDS epidemic and both its human and economic impact on our prospective trading partners. I feel that the alternative of continuing our myopia will give the United States a legacy that we do not need and may not even deserve of being a 21st century form of corporate colonialism in the eyes of so much of the world; and, especially to that portion of humanity whose poverty, ill-health, and desperation present a wide-open window of opportunity for those who would offer extremism and terrorism as the last resort to hopeless people.

For over two hundred years, we have generally been able to take care of ourselves and build this great nation with a striking lack of knowledge about events elsewhere, with some notable exceptions like the two World Wars. But our unique position of being the leading country in the world while being minimally engaged in the rest of the world has ended. It did not end on September 11, that's just the day that we all received the unmistakable message that those days are over. Help us face the facts. Your generation must help us face reality for our own sake.


Finally as you do so, as we do so, as we turn outward to the rest of the world, to the rest of humanity, do not let this become an excuse to drop or delay the unfinished business within our own nation. Now, these topics that I'll mention very briefly would have been at the heart of my speech, which was actually scheduled prior to September 11, had those tragedies not occurred. Tonight I can only briefly mention them, but I guarantee you, this does not reflect a diminished commitment to them. It does not reflect they somehow now have a diminished importance. And it does not reflect a lesser focus on these issues in my eyes, and I hope not in your eyes either.

We must begin to return now, after an understandable delay of two months, to the fights for domestic justice and reform within our nation. Why? Three quick reasons. First, because if we fail to do so, it will weaken us from within. If we ignore these problems to the point of racial, ethnic, religious or economic class tensions, it will make us weaker and less united. Secondly, as I've already discussed, it affects how we are perceived by the rest of the world when we are seeking friends and allies. And third, and I think most importantly, because these principles and values are the birthright of all Americans. I'm not suggesting that these issues should take precedence over fighting the battle against terrorism. They should not. But we can together work harder to continue with some key domestic battles that your generation, in particular, has helped emphasize.
First, the effort to end racial profiling in our nation. This abuse deeply troubles me. This is why I've taken the lead with Michigan Representative John Conyers on legislation to ban racial profiling. Originally, this issue was called driving while black, but then some Latino Americans said, "Hey, what about driving while brown?" Then we found out it wasn't just about driving. What about walking around, or going through the airport? On September 11 we saw immediately, we saw that some of our Arab American and Muslim citizens have had that same experience. On a Northwest Airlines flight, three Arab Americans cleared security, got on a plane and the passengers and the pilot voted them off the plane anyway. The CEO of Northwest Airlines, and I give him great credit for this, actually apologized directly to me for this unfair treatment given to his customers. That is a very dangerous aspect of what's going on. Some say the bill and the effort is dead now. I say it's not. These events will help us all understand there are differences between legitimate law enforcement and racial profiling. It is legitimate law enforcement for a police officer to pull over someone who matches the description of a suspect and is driving a car that the suspect was driving. It is not legitimate law enforcement to have 75% of the people pulled over on the New Jersey turnpike be African American without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. That's racial profiling, that's not law enforcement. And the same thing goes for Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans. Help us pass the Conyers- Feingold Racial Profiling Bill. Do not give in to this idea that we now need this practice in post-September 11th America.

The second issue is the movement to abolish the death penalty in the United States. I oppose the death penalty in all cases and in 1999, I introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty and I only got one cosponsor, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. We cannot allow the spectacle of constant executions, especially in places like Texas, be swept under the rug simply because we're facing a national crisis. We know that already over ninety individuals who were on death row have been released. And we should shudder to think how many people have been sent to their deaths that were innocent. I fear if we don't keep the focus on the death penalty, many more mistakes will be made. At the minimum, we have to enact the legislation, get a few more cosponsors to pass a national moratorium on the death penalty in all states in this country and at the federal level as well.

Finally, the third issue we've got continue is to fight for genuine campaign finance reform. Let's just say that on September 10, John McCain and I were on the 1-yard line with plenty of time left. We won the battle to finally get the McCain-Feingold bill through the Senate, we had broken the filibuster and passed the bill by a wide margin. Our battle to end unlimited, corrupting soft money contributions by corporations, unions and individuals, was about to be over. In the House of Representatives, we are just seven signatures short of what's called a discharge petition which requires the Speaker to bring the bill up which the President has given indications he may well sign. The good news is, and I want you to know, because I want you to help, is that this bill is very much alive and we have over a year to pass this bill before the 107th Congress ends. We have shown restraint, but the time is coming soon--this year or early next year to finish the job and pass the bill. We've got to finish the job, and we've got to give President Bush the honor of signing the bill. Then it is on to public financing of all elections in this country so we can truly return to a genuine system of one person, one vote.

So I hope we can together insist that we cannot ignore racial profiling, we cannot ignore the putting of innocent people to death, and that we cannot ignore some of the worst political corruption in our history because of our difficult international challenge. This will be an important part of the test for you, for us, and for our country. We must fight against terrorism and we must fight injustice at home-- we must do both, and we must do both well.


Thank you so much. And so, in conclusion, I know that I've still got a lot to do but you've really got a lot to do. And by the look on many of your faces you welcome the challenge. Yes, there is so much we can do for our country. As we do so, we tend to look at generations and their distinctive challenges and contributions. We are one people, but we like to speak in terms of generations. We look to those before us, and those after us with interest, with concern, sometimes with fear, sometimes with amusement, but especially, especially with love. And, in that regard, know that you really do have great power over us who are older than you, a great emotional power.

For me, this power was well expressed by Kweisi Mfume, in February of 2000 when he spoke to the delegates of the NAACP. He said "Look around you, before we leave, the young people you'll see them in the halls, you'll see them in the meeting room, you'll see them in the lounges. And when you look in their eyes, you can almost see, if you look closely enough, see yourself. If you look through their eyes. And that reflection really is you. It's what we looked like and who we were 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, or 40 years ago. We got here because someone looked in our eyes. We didn't understand why they were looking at us closely like that. We didn't understand why tears were welling up in their eyes when they looked at us, but they were looking at us and seeing themselves. And we must challenge ourselves to do that know with young people, because once you do that, you can never look away. Never look away." That's what Kweisi Mfume said and that's what all this talk about generations is about. Know now that older people look to you as their guides. Know that we want to see our better selves in you. I stand before you today to challenge you: Show us what we should be. By what you do for your country, by how you march ahead, by how you seek a newer world, make the tears well up in our eyes, when we look to you.

And if you do, keep alive the will, and the imagination and the courage of our great country. For as President Clinton said quite beautifully at the end of his very long state of the union address last year, his last, and first of our new millennium: "After 224 years, the American revolution continues. We remain a new nation. And as long as our dreams outweigh our memories, America will be forever young. That is our destiny. And this is our moment."

That's what President Bill Clinton said, and this is what I say to you tonight: This is your moment. The torch is being passed to a new generation of Americans. Use your youth while you are still young, use the value of your youth before your youth has been spent. And I'm sure we will be a much richer nation.