“The cost of freedom is always high,” President John F. Kennedy prophetically told the nation at the height of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. He paid with his own life to defend our freedom. Yes, the price of freedom is high — 1,196,541 Americans have paid with their lives to defend our freedom in all our wars. Today, when our whole nation is paying tribute to them, I also want to express my particular gratitude to these heroes. Their sacrifice for America’s freedom and for its capitalist system gave me hope, as it has made hope a key word in the vocabulary of millions of other men and women like me who have discovered in America the strength to overcome cynicism and despair. It was the hope that America would defeat the Soviet Empire that made that tyranny collapse.
There are millions of other Americans who, like me, started their lives from scratch for the privilege of living in this magnanimous land of freedom. We know that the United States is not a perfect country. But this imperfect America has almost single-handedly kept freedom and democracy alive in the world for the last hundred years. I call upon all my fellow immigrants to observe a minute of silence in the memory of those 1,196,541 Americans who paid with their lives to allow us to be free and to make America the leader of the world.