Through astonishing stress -- recession, depression, war -- we have kept faith with Washington, Madison and Jefferson.
"A republic, if you can keep it" was the challenge given us by the Founding Fathers. This nation accepted the world's teeming multitudes and transformed itself and ourselves into one people.
Just one example, civil rights, verifies our faith. Less than 30 years ago, President Eisenhower had to use the National Guard to escort young Autherine Lucy to her classroom. Blacks were denied the right to vote, the dignity of equal treatment, their very manhood and womanhood. One hour watching TV today tells the story of freedom better than a thousand words.
But, of course, it is not just blacks who have risen from oppression to dignity. The poor and oppressed of every country, from English Puritans to Vietnamese boat people, have come to America to find prosperity in all its senses, moral as well as financial. The human genius that produced democracy for a few decades in ancient Athens has been reborn -- durable, robust, energetic and compassionate.
What gives me hope? Everything from our recoveries to our triumphs, from the space shuttle to new medical breakthroughs. We are, and will remain, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.