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Teresa Heinz Kerry — Another Freedom Fighter

What has growing up under a dictatorship taught Teresa Heinz Kerry about freedom and democracy?

August 4, 2004

What has growing up under a dictatorship taught Teresa Heinz Kerry about freedom and democracy?

“Freedom” is a favorite topic in U.S. politics — often invoked by President Bush and others. In our Read My Lips feature, we present the views of Teresa Heinz Kerry on this same theme. The wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry talked about freedom and America’s role in the world in her address to the 2004 Democratic Convention.

What makes America so special to you?

“I know how precious freedom is. It is a sacred gift, sanctified by those who have lived it and those who have died defending it."

What lesson did you learn from going to school in South Africa during apartheid?

“There is a value in taking a stand, whether or not anybody may be noticing it — and whether or not it is a risky thing to do.”

What do you perceive as the American spirit?

“Americans showed the world what can happen when people believe in amazing possibilities. And that, for me, is the spirit of America.”

Are there specific examples of this?

“Americans believed that they could know all there is to know, build all there is to build, break down any barrier, tear down any wall. We sent men to the moon. And when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn — and Hubble to touch the very edges of the universe in the very dawn of time.”

Why do you view young Americans’ service in the Peace Corps as so crucial for their country?

“Young people convey an idea of America that is all about heart, creativity, generosity and confidence — a practical, can-do sense and a big, big smile."

Has the United States typically had a positive image in the international community?

“For many generations of people around this globe, America has represented a symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its people — people coming from all over the world.”

Is there a need for change in order to restore America's reputation abroad?

“In America, the true patriots are those who dare speak truth to power. The truth that we must speak now is that America has responsibilities that it is time for us to accept again.”

What must America strive to become?

“It is a moral nation that understands and willingly shoulders its obligations, a moral nation that rejects thoughtless and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions. And it is a moral nation that leads through the power of its ideas and the power of its example.”

This Read My Lips is adapted from a speech that Teresa Heinz Kerry gave introducing her husband John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on July 27, 2004. For the full text of Mrs. Heinz Kerry's speech, please click here.