Seventy two years ago, my parent's generation found our Nation plunged into World War.
Theirs was a clear and epic struggle -- a struggle that would determine whether or not "this government of the people, by the people and for the people," would "perish from the earth."
Here, today, at the World War II Memorial, encircled by granite stones of American honor , we pause this morning -- as one Nation -- to pay tribute to our Veterans.
Hear the "Fanfare for the Common Man."
Citizen. Soldier. American.
The little name a mother called once.
Each was asked a question.
At Anzio or Iowa Jima, in the snows of Korea, or the jungles of Viet Nam, in the deserts of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan, in the blood drenched fields of Gettysburg, or in the frozen mud of Valley Forge, freedom asked a question.
"For family, for neighbors, for generations you will never meet, for one Nation under God, how big is your love? "
Our duty this morning is not to lift their service higher.
No personal tribute or failing of ours -- no filibuster or shutdown -- can touch the gift, already ascending, far beyond our earthly reach.
Our duty is not to lift higher, but to dig deeper; to search through the shadows of our current doubts.
To rediscover our own true selves.
To find within us the power greater than the individuals we are.
To seek and touch a stronger truth.
A truth to heal the heart of our Democracy.
A truth that still abides.
A truth that calls us to their "unfinished work."
You see, our parents and grandparents understood well the essence we share as Americans.
It is the truth that lies at the heart of the American Dream.
The stronger we make our country, the more she gives to us; the more she gives to our children and to our grandchildren.
The Veterans we honor today did not serve -- did not fight and die -- so their grandchildren could grow up in a country of less.
They gave to us a larger and stronger country.
A country of more.
A country of more opportunity, more freedom, more justice.
A country that we now have the ability to pass forward to our own grandchildren -- if we chose -- even stronger and better than they gave her to us.
For the country they carried in their hearts was no small or fading thing.
The future they created was far larger than themselves or even their own generation.
The love they freely gave us was an everlasting love, expansive, resounding, and big.
And so must it be with us.
For the on-going, life-giving work of The United States of America is not finished.
The duty to preserve, protect and defend is not the exclusive fate or franchise of one generation -- however great.
It is the freedom of every generation.
It is the responsibility of every generation.
It is the greatness that calls to each of us.
May God bless the souls of all brave men and women -- past, present, and future -- whose love for others proves them worthy to be called, "Americans."