It is truly an honour to have a second opportunity to address this august body, this great democratic legislature that has been witness to and shaper of so much of
April 7, 1987
the history of freedom. I remember those days, not so very long after the attack on Pearl Harbour had once again united our two nations in a world conflict, when Winston Churchill stood-where I am standing today. Wake Island had fallen just a week before; on Christmas Day, after an heroic defence by Canadian troops, Hong Kong was captured by the Axis; Manila was soon to be swallowed up as well.
But those who might have been expecting a picture of democracy in retreat got something very different from that indomitable spirit. "We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries," he said, "across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy". Churchill was speaking of the members of the British Commonwealth, most specifically of the people of Canada, but I confess we Americans have always flattered ourselves that, though the thought was unspoken, he had us in mind, too.
As two proud and independent peoples there is much that distinguishes us, one from the other, but there is also much that we share: a vast continent, with its common hardships and uncommon beauties, generations of mutual respect and support, and an abiding friendship that grows ever stronger. We are two nations, each built by immigrants, refugees from tyranny and want, pioneers of a new land of liberty. The first settlers of this new world, alone before the majesty of nature, alone before God, must have been thrown back on first principles, must have realized that it was only in their most basic values that they would find the wisdom to endure and the strength to triumph. And so a dedication was formed, as hard as the granite of the Rockies-a dedication to freedom, a commitment to those unalienable human rights and their only possible guarantee, the institutions of democratic government.
A shared history, yes, but more than that: a shared purpose. It must have seemed to Churchill, besieged and isolated as he was in the one corner of Europe still clinging to freedom, that this American continent, and his two great friends and onetime colonies, had been placed here by a wise and prescient God, protected between two vast oceans, to keep freedom safe. In the crisis of the moment Churchill said it was not then time to "-speak of the hopes of the future, or the broader world which lies beyond our struggles and our victory". We must first, he said, "-win that world for our children".
In a very real sense, that is still our imperative today: to win the world for our children, to win it for freedom.