Today, as we remember their sacrifice, we remind ourselves of our duty to their memory, to the future they fought for. We owe the honored dead a debt we can never fully repay. We owe them our whole souls. We owe them our full best efforts to perfect the Union for which they died.
We owe them the work of our hands and our hearts, to make real the promise of a nation founded on the proposition that all of us — all of us — all of us are created equal and deserve to be treated that way throughout our lives.
Democracy is more than a form of government. It’s a way of being; it’s a way of seeing the world. Democracy means the rule of the people — the rule of the people. Not the rule of monarchs, not the rule of the moneyed, not the rule of the mighty — literally, the rule of the people.
The lives of billions, from antiquity to our own hour, have been shaped by the battle between aspirations of the many and the greed of the few. Between people’s right to self-determination and the self-seeking of the dictator. Between dreams of democracy and appetites for autocracy, which we’re seeing around the world.
Our troops have fought this battle on fields around the world, but also the battle of our time. And the mission falls to each of us, each and every day. Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world.