[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Well I heard the -- the media estimates on the crowd size. The first one was there's tens of thousands of people here. I think the latest I heard were two. I heard over three hundred thousand and I heard over five hundred thousand. And if that's coming from the media, God only knows how many.
This day is a day that we can search the hearts of America again and it has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with God, everything turning our faith back to the values and the principles that made us great.
We have a choice today. We have a choice. We can either look at our scars, look at the scars of the nation. Let's be honest. If you look at history, America has been both terribly good and terribly bad. It has been both, but we concentrate on the bad instead of learning from the bad, and repairing the bad and then looking to the good that is still out in front of us within our reach.
We have a choice today to either let those scars crush us or redeem us. We are gathered here today in a hallowed spot. Here Abraham Lincoln, a giant of an American, casting a shadow on all of us. We look to a giant for answers. Behind you, in front of me the Washington Monument, alone, tall, straight. If you look at the Washington Monument you might notice its scars, but nobody talks about that. Nobody says look to it now. Nobody says yeah I don't know, but a quarter of the way up it changes color. Did you know that it did?
Look at it. Look at its scars. How did the scar get there? They stopped building it in the Civil War and when the war was over they began again. No one sees the scars of the Washington Memorial, the Washington Monument. We see what it stands for. No one also talks about what's on top, facing east, just two words Laus Deo -- "Praise be to God."
When I was 18 years old, I used to sit in between the second and third column there. I'd come about five o'clock in the morning and I would sit there and I would watch the sun rise over the Capitol. I just did it again with my now, in-college children. I did it this week. This is an amazing place. I told them not a lot had changed except now at the end a salute to the greatest Americans, the greatest American generation, the World War II Memorial at the end of the Reflecting Pool.
Men, women who did what they had to do, not because they wanted to but because they were faced with no choice. You cannot coexist with evil. They did the right thing. They stood against all odds.
The Vietnam Memorial, here, saluting all the grand veterans that we didn't welcome home when they came. We finally welcome them home now. And through these trees, through these trees a haunting memorial of the Korean veterans.
We are -- we are standing, we are standing amongst giants and in between the Reflecting Pool. Why? Is it so we can say wow, look how dirty it is? No, it's not just to reflect the monument. It is intended for us to reflect, to reflect on what that man meant and those men meant and those, and those, and that man meant and the man who stood down on those stairs and gave his life for everyone's right to have a dream, Martin Luther King. That's what the reflection is all about.
We are to reflect on what these great men did. Why did they give their lives? And all of them did. George Washington, he was a general. He fought and fought and fought and fought. And when it was falling apart and they needed the Constitution, they came riding to his front door. And they knocked on his door and he answered it. And they said General, we will not survive. It's falling apart. We need you at the Constitutional Convention. His response was, "Have I not yet done enough for my country?" He closed the door. He reflected, mounted his horse and gave yet another part of his life, because it was the right thing to do.
So, what did these great people give their lives for? They gave it for the American experiment. And that's what this is, an experiment. It's not just a country. It's an idea that man can rule himself. That's the American experiment.
We have a choice to make today. Do we, Americans that live today, surrounded by giants who gave it all, do we today say the experiment cannot work? Man must be ruled by someone?
[Crowd shouts "no"]
It does not end here. It shall not end now. It shall not end in my generation, in your generation. It is up to us.
I came here last Saturday. I wanted to spend some time with my children. I wanted to show them, these great monuments. I went into the Lincoln Memorial and I stood there and I read the Gettysburg Address on one wall and the Second Inaugural Address on the other. I went up and touched the words and lifted my children up so they could touch the words as well.
The words are alive. Our documents, our most famous speeches are American scripture and they are alive today just as any other scripture is. It speaks to us from the past. If I, if I may, if I may share with you the Gettysburg Address and ask you if it doesn't apply to today:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great [civil] war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field....
In the hotel that I'm staying at, I found out, is the hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King finished his speech. But it's also a place where someone else wrote something, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written here in a hotel just down the street because you could see over the buildings at that time. They weren't so high and you could see. And they watched the battle. That's where The Battle Hymn of the Republic, here was written. This is a great battlefield, filled with warriors on each side.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who gave their lives that this nation might live....
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men (and women), living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never be forgotten what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus so far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us here to be dedicated now to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave their last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall have not died in vain. That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this earth.
America is at a crossroad. And we must decide are those words that Abraham Lincoln spoke, and they have no relevance or meaning on us today. America is at a crossroad and today we must decide. Who are we? What is it we believe? We must advance or perish. I choose advance.
After the Gettysburg Address, go in and read. I invite you today to go in and read The Second Inaugural. Abraham Lincoln found God in the scars of Gettysburg. He was baptized and gave the Second Inaugural. He looked to God and set men free. America -- America awakens again.
It's the same story throughout history, all of mankind's history. Man finds himself in slavery and then someone appears to wake America up. It was George Whitefield in the 1740s, an imperfect man, a man who actually at the same time was preaching individual rights, brought more slavery to this land. But it was his words that inspired an American generation. They were children at the time and they grew in to be John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson.
It happens the same way. It has since the burning bush, Moses, freedom, and then they forget. They wander until they remember that God is the answer. He always has been and then they begin to trust. Do you know what kind of trust there must have been if you were in bondage in ancient Egypt, and you were crying out to the Almighty, send us, send us someone to free us? And a man shows up with a stick. Don't you think they said, "You got to be kidding me?" The all powerful, the Almighty and he sends a man slow of speech with a stick. But look what that stick and that man did.
Have trust in the Lord and recognize that Moses and Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, they were men. They were just like you. They just picked up their stick.
I think I can relate to Martin Luther King out of all of these giants. I can relate to Martin Luther King probably the most because we haven't carved him in marble yet. He's still a man and that's the message. That man makes a difference. What is it that these men have that you don't? What is it Abraham Lincoln, the American Indian, Frederick Douglass, the moonshot, the pioneers, what is it they have that you don't have? The answer is nothing. They are exactly like you. They just did the hard thing. They just decided not to see themselves in any other way other than, oh crap I gotta cross the mountains.
Ask yourself, would you have crossed the mountains? I think I would have been stuck at the first river. And if I would have made it all the way to the Rockies my family would have been right there in Denver, Colorado because I would have gotten there and went, "Oh you've got to be kidding me." They went on. They relied on God and God's grace.
America is great because America is good. But that's not the entire story. She's not just good because she's good. America is only what we choose her to be. We as individuals must be good so America can be great.
America is at crossroad and there is a clear and simple choice. Do we choose to just look at the scars? Do we choose to look back? Or do we do what every great generation has done in America in times of trouble, look ahead? Dream about what we're going to become not worried about what we are. Look forward, look West, look to the heavens, look to God and make your choice.
One of, one of my, one of the phrases that comes to mind a lot is, that which you gaze upon you shall become. What is it we're gazing upon? What is it we look at? Why have we missed gazing upon the Reflecting Pool? What are you gazing on every day? Because that is what you will become. Are we so jaded as a nation? Are we so pessimistic that we no longer believe in the individual and the power of the individual? Do we no longer believe in dreams and the power of one person making a difference?
I testify to you here and now, one man can change the world. And I share with you an equal testimony, that man or woman is you. You make the difference. Do not stand and look to someone else. Look to yourself. Pick up your stick and stand.
Too many Americans are looking to someone else. We must be the people that look inside ourself first and then are a life raft to those around us that need help, and not give them fish but teach them how to fish.
We are a nation -- We are a nation, quite honestly, that is about in as good a shape as I am. And that ain't very good. I was running around here this week on these steps trying to line up everything. I'd get up to the top and I like, okay I've got to sit down for a second. Because we've had a soft life. The poorest among us are still some of the richest in the world. The poorest among us have blessings beyond the wildest imagination of anyone that Mother Theresa visited. And yet we don't recognize it. Instead we've grown tired. We've grown weak. We're dividing ourselves. There is growing hatred in the country.
We must be better than what we've allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us. No matter what anyone may say or do. No matter what anyone smears or lies or throws our way or to any American's way, we must look to God and look to love.
We must defend those that we disagree with, but are honest and have integrity. There are people that were on this stage, and I'm not going, I don't have permission to say who they were. But there were people on this stage that not only took great personal risk but also one in particular, organized for our President, led a prayer breakfast, is a Dem -- is a Democrat. You would think the media will tell you that there was only a bunch of Tea Parties. No, no. That person stood on this stage because of honor and integrity. There's a lot we can disagree on but our values and our principles can unite us. We must discover them again.
Americans have always looked to explore. We went West and then we went up. We're going down into the oceans. The time to explore is changing. For us to explore we must not just explore outer space but we must as Americans explore inner space. We must look inside of ourselves and look at what we truly believe. The Lord will always send a people wake up calls. And he has been sending us wake up call, after wake up call, after wake up call. And it has been through the Republicans and the Democrats. It's all of us, all of us.
He has been sending us wake up calls and you can send two kinds of wake up calls, one through fear like 911. 911 woke us up and we stood shoulder to shoulder for a very short period of time. Politics didn't matter. Color didn't matter. It didn't matter if you were poor or you were rich. We were Americans together. Beyond that we were God's human creation standing together.
But fear only wakes you up for a very short time. I know that many in this country think that I'm a fear monger. It is not a -- It is not a label that I think applies. I do talk about frightening things, but I don't think the man who saw the ice berg as the Titanic was about to hit it and said, "It's an ice berg," was a fear monger. He was warning the people on the ship.
Waking people up through fear only will awaken them for a very short period of time. As we all found out with 911. Do you not think the apostles while waiting in the Garden of Gethsemane were afraid? Jesus asked them just watch with me for an hour. He prayed and he came back and they were asleep. The enemies were lighting torches and gathering their swords and they said sorry, we'll do better next time. And they didn't. One, two, three -- three times can you not watch with me for one hour? The response is the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
Well, what do we do? They weren't awake. They weren't awake until after the resurrection and then they knew and they never went to sleep again. It wasn't the fear of death. It was the resurrection that kept them awake. We must as a people strengthen our spirit.
I ask you, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Americans. We are all Americans. We all must realize how nice we have it here, despite all of our problems. We must recognize the great things that we have done, while noticing as well so we can learn from the lessons all of the bad things that we have done. Know them so we never repeat the same mistake.
But we must make a choice today. I gave a 40 day challenge on the air, 40 days ago today. I asked you to do three things, faith, hope, and charity. In your own life I ask you pray on your knees. Not just pray but pray on your knees. Recognize your place to the Creator. Recognize that he is our king and he is the one that guides and directs our life and protects us.
I asked not only if you would pray on your knees but pray on your knees with the door open for your children to see. Not only pray with them but let them see their father or their mother humbled by God in prayer. That which they gaze upon, they will become.
The second thing I asked you to do for hope. Tell the truth. Tell the truth and it only matters when you tell the truth and you know it's going to hurt you. You know that it's not going to help your side. Tell the truth. America is crying out for the truth. Tell the truth in your own life and then expect it from others.
And the third, I asked you 40 days ago to do. For charity, connect with your family, your spouse and your children. Give them extra time. Give them extra attention. Charity begins at home first.
My challenge to you today is to make a choice. Does America go forward and the American experience expands or does the experiment fail with us? Make the choice. And then if you answer as I do, look to the top of the Washington Memorial -- the Washington Monument, praise be to God. My favorite line in the Declaration of Independence is "With firm reliance on divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Let that phrase be our guide.
As they put on the top of the Monument, as Thomas Jefferson said if you really want to share the truth embed it, embed it into architecture. The truth is on the walls here. The truth is on the top of the Monument.
But it's also in our founding documents. What is the answer? Do you think they were just using the wrong size font when they said, "We, the people?" Do you think somebody was like hey you got to size that down a bit, it'll not fit on the page? That was code. They knew we would forget.
And at the end of the Declaration of Independence it is our guide out, with firm reliance on divine providence. Step one with firm reliance on divine providence. How? How can you possibly have firm reliance if you don't know what you believe? If you're just doing it because your family has done it. If you're just doing it because it's what we do. If you haven't as Thomas Jefferson said questioned with boldness even the very existence of God, for if there be a God, he must surely rather honest questioning over blindfolded fear.
Blindfolded fear does not lead to an awakening. Questioning with boldness does. Find out what you really, truly believe. It's the only way you can have firm reliance on it. When the storms come up and your ship is being tossed, you've got to rely on something. Do you want it to be an invisible, magic sky God that you think is there? Or do you want to have firm reliance, we will be fine? I choose to know so I can -- so I can depend with firm reliance on God's protection.
To realize your space, if you understand who God is, you will also understand you are one of his children. That has great benefits and unbelievable responsibility. If you find out who God truly is, I warn you. I warn you. If you know who He is, it will be the biggest blessing in your life, but it will also be the biggest curse in your life. Because on some things you will then no longer have a choice because you know what is true, you know who you serve, and you must stand there because you have no other choice. Know who He is and know who you are.
The next part of the phrase is, "We mutually pledge to each other our lives." I've always read that as something the Vietnam vets did. The Korean vets did, for the vets that we honor today. It's not just that. Washington, I told you, gave up his life as he wanted it. He wanted to be a farmer, not a president. He wanted to be a surveyor, not a general. He gave up the life he wanted. If we do this right, we will each come to a point in our life. If we are going to change our country with lasting ramifications, we will each come to a point in our life where we are at the last string or thread and say, "Have I not yet done enough for my country?" And then we will stand up again and get on our horse, because the answer is no. God is not done with you yet and he is not done with man's freedom yet.
"With firm reliance on divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes." What does that mean? It means that there comes a time when one generation must sacrifice for the next. One generation must make the choice to do the right thing, because it is the right thing. So our children can have a chance at a sliver of what we have grown up in, scars and all. This experiment is the only time man has lived a life like this. It's not a coincidence, the world changed as the Age of Enlightenment happened and Americans set man free. It's not a coincidence.
If we want it for our children and our grandchildren, we must pledge our lives and our fortunes. But we already know that instinctively. If anyone has ever had a child who is seriously ill, you know you have stood in that hospital. And you have fallen to your knees and you have said, "Lord, give it to me, give it to me. Let them live. Let them have a shot. I'll take it on." That's who we must be today. We must take it on so our children can have a chance. We must be willing to trade places with our children. Our children will be slaves to a debt, slaves. We must trade places with them.
We must also give to the things that we believe in. I ask you today, I know I did this most of my life. I put 20 dollars in the basket at church and I'd think I was doing pretty good. I kind of almost pop it out so everyone could see yeah, 20 bucks. When the man with the stick and the burning bush spoke about the 20 dollars in the basket, it was ten percent.
I remember -- I remember, I first started thinking about actually tithing, I'm like holy cow, really? And that somehow or another is going to make me happy? Let me tell you something. It is my joy and my honor to tithe ten percent. Please, our nation can only do great works through our churches if they have the means to do it. Charity comes from us. It comes from our churches. It comes from our synagogues. It comes from our houses of worship. Tithe with firm reliance on divine providence. If you have firm reliance, you gladly give ten percent because you know you'll be fine.
And the last part, our sacred honor. It means that you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. It means there are no lies in your life. That is a hard one. But I come to you and tell you as a man whose whole life was a lie. A man who was on the floor in the fetal position because I couldn't do it anymore, because I had wrecked my whole life. I had dishonored myself in every way. I come to tell you now, that the truth shall set you free. The truth shall set you free. Warning, the truth will make you miserable first. But then it will set you free.
Each of us need to do these things if we are to restore our nation. We need to do these things. And when we do, we will know who we are, that each of us makes a difference. That life is short but there is much work to be done. So pick up your stick because the one that leads your life demands it of us.
If we do these things we will heal our nation. We will not only heal our nation but we will do what the greatest American generation did the last century. They will be the shelter for the world because the storm that is coming is not just an American storm, it's a human storm. It's a global storm. And who is it that always runs in at the end to save them? It is always the American. But we are not prepared to be those people yet. We must go to God boot camp and straighten our own lives up so we can -- we can help the people out in the rest of the world and guide them down the stairs and out of the building into safety.
If we can say this to each other and with firm reliance on divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, we will then know that God is not on our side, rather we have put our life in shape so we know we will be on God's side.
But America, there are so many things that we gaze upon, that is easy to pull us off track. We cannot do these things alone. We must do them with a good spouse by our side, good friends by our side, our family being strong, and we must insist that our churches stand for things that we know are true because they are universal and endless in nature. Stand. Take a stand. Our churches, our synagogues, our mosques, we must stand for the things that we know are true.
Two hundred and forty years ago, there was what was called the black robe regiment. England hated the preachers. When they came, the British, they had a real hard time with the preachers. In fact if you were a preacher… Must be a big crowd because they've violated the air space to get a shot of it.
England hated the preachers, in fact if you were a preacher you were most likely to be killed during the American Revolution. Why? Because it was first the preacher that said all men are created equal, that rights come from God, no government, no king. Well we have fallen asleep as a nature -- as a nation and our churches have fallen asleep. This isn't about one church or one faith over another, it is about the eternal principles of God. For two hundred and forty years, they have been absent from the American landscape. The black robe regiment is back again today. These two hundred and forty men and women of all faiths are standing here today.
America it is time to start the heart of this nation again. And put it where it belongs. Our heart with God. Go to your churches, your synagogues, your mosques, anyone that is not preaching hate and division. Anyone that is not teaching to kill another man. But you go to those that are teaching the lasting principles. These two hundred and forty men and women from all faiths represent thousands of clergy that we couldn't fit into this area that are amongst you now. Thousands that have come here to the mall to stand with America and God.
And those thousands that are here represent one hundred and eighty million people. There are thousands that have....[audio interrupted at source at 48:40] But we must not have fear and we must not get lost in politics. I know the media will make that into and in the most crazy thing he said. We are all people that find ourselves in incredible times. We all find ourselves saying you have made a mistake, I have made a mistake. But I come to you as someone that will declare their principles and their values. We can disagree on politics. We can disagree on so much. These men and women here don't agree on fundamentals. They don't agree on everything that every church teaches. What they do agree on is God is the answer.
If today -- If today is just one day -- If you make your way home, this wake up call will fade. If it was just about today. And the critics will be right. That it was meaningless. That you have wasted your time. But if in fact you choose today to change your life and root them in faith, hope, and charity, we will change the world. If we declare that we stand for something. If we do not, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what we said here. It's what we do from here that matters. Take the forty day challenge and change your life. Let your children see it.
Our sacred scriptures of our country, of our faith, we must -- we must seal them in clay pots. We must make sure that they are protected just as the Dead Sea scrolls were. Protect them. But we have our clay pots. They're our children. Teach them these things. I asked you to bring your son or daughter. Stand here. I know -- I know that if you do your job, if you pledge to yourself that you will restore honor in your own life, we will leave freedom better than how we found it. So our children can find the giant inside of them.
Somewhere in this crowd, I know it, I have been looking for the next George Washington. I can't find him. I know he is in this crowd. He may be eight years old but this is the moment. This is the moment that he dedicates his life. That he sees giants around him. And 25 years from now, he will come not to this stair, but to those stairs and he can proclaim, "I have a new dream." That must be our goal to raise the next great monument.
America is at a crossroad. And this is the point of choice. You must choose whether we wallow in our scars. Countries make mistakes. We have made more than our fair share but it is what you do with those mistakes. We choose to wallow in them or we learn from the past and ask for redemption. For tomorrow, yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. But we have today to make a difference. It matters not how low…
It matters not -- it matters not where we are right now. It matters not where we have been. It's what we're doing today that makes the difference. John Newton was a slave ship captain in the 1700s. He was a -- a despicable man. He was a man that was a slave ship captain, need I say more and he didn't see it in front of him. He had eyes but he could not see the horror that he was engaged in, until he was in a storm, and that's usually when people figure it out. He was in a storm on the seas and he fell to his knees and he said, "Lord help us. Help us. Help us. Help us." And he did. But he followed through. He was changed in that storm. He went from a captain of a slave ship to a guy who wrote probably the best song for the bagpipes. He wrote "Amazing Grace". For once he was blind but now he can see. If you are blind yesterday, you were blind ten minutes ago, you're blind ten minutes in the future. See. See what the Lord is putting in front of you now. And we bring out the bagpipes.
[Bagpipes play "Amazing Grace". Crowd sings. Singers from stage join in.]
Trust. Trust divine providence. A year ago I stood with my staff in my office and I told them we need to have an event at the Lincoln Memorial. I'm not quite sure what it is yet and we stood three weeks ago because of security and because we knew the event was getting bigger and bigger and bigger and so did the wonderful National Park Service. Our costs went up dramatically and I had a goal that I wanted to give SOWF and we, there's no way to reach that goal. And I had just come from a fundraiser and I had given my last measure. We were out of everything we could do. We were out of time. And we were short six hundred thousand dollars to meet our goal. We were at three point one million dollars. And I, for the first time started to challenge him a little bit. And I was on the plane and I'll never forget sitting next to my wife, I looked up at the top of that airplane and I said Lord, we don't have anything else left. We don't have anything else left. It's up to you now. In two days without saying a word to anyone, six hundred thousand dollars came in. I am proud to announce thanks to you, as of right now and the money is still coming in, we have raised five and a half million dollars.
In that same meeting, they said to me, Glenn what happens if nobody comes? My response was, we'll stand where the Lord wants us to stand and he'll provide the people if its what's supposed to happen. We are a nation that has terrible, terrible scars. But we must look past them. We must look at the person inside, the country inside. All the potential.
To close tonight with a prayer, I want to introduce you to Dave Roever. He's a Vietnam veteran. He was on a mission and he pulled a phosphorous grenade. It went off in his hand. A phosphorous grenade is five thousand degrees, half the temperature of the sun. His face was horribly scarred. He told me that he actually put his head in his pillow and he screamed, because he didn't want anybody to hear him in the hospital scream and he removed his face from the pillow and then he didn't care who heard him scream because his face was left in the pillow. He's a man that tried to kill himself because he thought my wife will not want me. No one will. What is left of this scarred man? I am happy to say he's turned his life over to God and his wife stood by his side and as he said, kissed him in the one good part of his face and looked him into his one good eye and together they have made their way.
Audio Source: C-SPAN.org
Audio Note: Audio enhanced with noise filters and various effects
Research Note: Transcription by Diane Wiegand
Page Updated: 2/11/17
Copyright Status: Text = Uncertain. Audio = Property of AmericanRhetoric.com. Image (Screenshot) = Fair Use.