Dear All,

Here is the speech I had hoped Kerry would deliver at the Soldiers Home. Perhaps when we Save the Lakefront we can forge a grand alliance between the urban ecologists, the historic preservationists, and the veterans of the Great Midwest to

Save the Soldiers Home.

Perhaps the same Grand Alliance can team up to support the NAACP National Convention’s “Rebirth of Freedom” Tribute to Forgotten Veterans of Color, July 9–14.

The Lessons of Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home by John Kerry, Speech Never Delivered in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is becoming home to all of God’s children. It is a lovely city where the waters and citizens from every continent meet. Milwaukee, like life itself, is a terrible beauty, the scene of great tragedies, but also, of great triumphs.

It is humbling and awe-inspiring to meet with you at the Soldiers Home of the Great Midwest, home to the sacred remains of the gallant soldiers and families, who faced the horrors of war, and whose finest aspect informs this gathering today.

I have chosen the Soldiers Home as one of my major Midwest destinations, so that I and we can experience the spirit of these buildings, where healed and died the soldiers who fought the war that ended 10,000 years of slavery in Western civilization.

These are also the buildings and the graves where inhere the spirit of the soldiers who fought the wars that wiped the malignancy of Hitler’s Nazism and Mussolini’s facism from the map of Europe.

And these are the buildings and the graves where will reside the spirit of the Soldiers who have made and will make the ultimate sacrifice, fighting the scourge of terrorist fundamentalisms in these times.

It is at these grounds that I wish to address the issues of war and peace, and the issues of race and religious reconciliation. How can we learn to be good soldiers and citizens in a just war, without learning the lessons of the Soldiers Home? How can we learn to be good citizens in our domestic war against intolerance, injustice, and violence, public and private, institutional and individual, without learning the lessons of the Soldiers Home?

These 43,000 graves and these marvelous buildings that housed those maimed and wounded by the dogs of war, speak clearly to a basic and fundamental principle.

This great country should never go to war because we want to.

We should only go to war because we have to.

These buildings which constituted a nurturing village for our soldiers since the Civil War era, are currently in a disgraceful state of disrepair, largely forgotten these past 15 years. This failure inspires a second principle to guide our collective enterprise: when we make a mistake, when we overlook something of great importance, we must seek out a wise response to our mistake, apologize to those harmed by it, and move on to a brighter and more thoughtful tomorrow. It is quite human to err, to apologize, and to move on, informed by our mistakes. It is quite limiting to our humanity to err, evade, and continue on misguided pathways.

Let us renew these buildings and fill them with new life and new purpose.

Let us renew our foreign and domestic policy. Let America once again embody the charisma of freedom and democracy. No more unilaterial wars! No more rejection of treaties designed to heal our environment. Never again Abu Ghraib!

We will reclaim the Soldiers Home for the generations. We will hear the spirit of these fallen heroes. We will extricate this great nation from a narrative of self-destructive fear.

Let us reclaim the narrative of hope that has served so well this nation’s great contribution to the advance of liberty, community, and justice.

(to be continued)

What say?

Clear sailing,


P.S. Want to chip in and help develop this speech?

(to be continued by the Wisconsin draft Kerry’s Soldiers Home Speech Task Force).

What say?

Clear sailing,


Last edited by g.   Page last modified on January 13, 2005

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