The final day of the Democratic National Convention began with wonderful lady from Old Pueblo leading the convention into reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It brought the house down, and tears of joy to more than a few set of eyes. Mine included. Because there’s no quit in Gabby Giffords.
Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth addressed the convention. She introduced herself as the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, whose family has worn our nation’s uniform since the American Revolution. She’s also the daughter of a Thai-Chinese mother, an immigrant who joyfully obtained her American citizenship in her fifties. Her husband is an Army officer. Tammy herself was an Army officer, an assault helicopter pilot, working her way up to command a Blackhawk helicopter company. In 2003, her Illinois National Guard unit was mobilized, and she became one of the first Army women to fly combat missions in Iraq. Almost a year into my tour she was wounded. Let her tell you in her own words:
On November 12th, 2004, I was co-piloting my Blackhawk north of Baghdad when we started taking enemy fire. A rocket-propelled grenade hit our helicopter, exploding in my lap, ripping off one leg, crushing the other and tearing my right arm apart. But I kept trying to fly until I passed out. In that moment, my survival and the survival of my entire crew depended on all of us pulling together. And even though they were wounded themselves and insurgents were nearby, they refused to leave a fallen comrade behind. Their heroism is why I’m alive today.
There’s no quit in Tammy Duckworth.
John B. Nathman, retired United States Navy Admiral who served as the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command until May 2007 then gave a rousing speech detailing what the Obama Administration has done for our veterans and men and women in uniform:
And since the day he took office, President Obama has demonstrated that he respects and understands the challenges for those who wear a uniform. For every veteran who comes home wounded, the president invested in the VA and expanded care to more than a half million returning troops who deserve that care. For every family waiting at home, anxious every time the phone rings, the president, the first lady, and Dr. Jill Biden are engaging whole communities to support those families. And for every man and woman coming back to an uncertain future, the president strives to help veterans apply their talents, expand their skills and get good jobs. Last year, he challenged American businesses to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses. He and the first lady got businesses across the private sector to sign on, supported by tax credits for hiring our veterans and wounded warriors. Last month, these same participating businesses reported that they’ve exceeded the goal by 25 percent— ahead of schedule—and now they’re committing to bring on a quarter million more new veteran jobs. And it’s not just about finding jobs today; it’s about giving these men and women the chance to learn the skills for the jobs of tomorrow. That’s why I’m proud that the president is offering veterans the best education benefits since the original GI Bill. This education is something that can and will change their lives, and it guarantees American progress, vitality and growth.
At the end of his speech, veterans from all across the nation joined him on the stage, and the delegates thanked them for their service.
There’s no quit in our veterans and brave men and women in uniform.
And what did Mitt Romney and the Republican Convention have to say about our veterans, our men and women in uniform who serve this country, or about his plan for bringing them home from Afghanistan?
That’s right – absolutely nothing. Not a single word.
And there’s no quit in President Obama.
I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed –- and so have I. I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs. America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder — but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer — but we travel it together. We don’t turn back.
If you turn away now — if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible — well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves.
Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
When asked about Osama bin Laden, Mitt Romney said it wasn’t worth moving heaven and earth just to catch one person. Well Mitt, you don’t have to worry about that. Because President Obama trusted his instincts, trusted our Intelligence capability, and because he trusted the ability of our brave Navy SEAL Special Operation Forces, Osama bin Laden is no longer on this earth. He’s lying at the bottom of the ocean.
Gabby Giffords, Tammy Duckworth, a tribute to our veterans and brave men and women in uniform. And my Conservative/Republican blogger colleague here at Tucson Citizen, Fort Buckley, yesterday called it “the second trimester of Abortionpalooza”. Well, there’s been a lot of name calling in this campaign, too much. When a courageous young woman named Sandra Fluke stood up for her right to have her healthcare choices dictated by her decisions and that of her doctor – not by the decisions of her employer – Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut”. Well, we’ve been telling you that this election represents the starkest choice in a generation. This election represents the starkest contrast in choosing the direction of the country since the 1964 election between LBJ and Barry Goldwater. Do we repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Act and go back a wheeling & dealing Wall Street and banks charging you $45 for a $1 overdraft? Do we repeal the Affordable Care Act and go back to denials of coverage because of preexisting conditions, annual and lifetime caps on what insurance companies will pay when you need to actually use your health insurance? Do we turn our back on the nearly 50 year history of Medicare and turn it into “Vouchercare” and leave our seniors to the mercy of private, for profit insurance companies who would have no incentive to insure and protect them? Do we go back to more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, in hopes trickle down economics might finally work? Or do we move forward under the leadership of President Obama and protect and strengthen our middle class? Choose carefully, chose wisely.
No, there’s no quit in America. We have our ups and downs, but we always get right back up, dust ourselves off, stand tall, and continue to move forward. No one should ever make the mistake of betting against America. Just ask Osama bin Laden.