Transcript of George W. Bush's Acceptance Speech

Government cannot do this work. It can feed the body, but it cannot reach the soul. Yet government can take the side of these groups, helping the helper, encouraging the inspired.

My administration will give taxpayers new incentives to donate to charity, encourage after-school programs that build character, and support mentoring groups that shape and save young lives.

We must give our children a spirit of moral courage, because their character is our destiny.

We must tell them, with clarity and confidence, that drugs and alcohol can destroy you, and bigotry disfigures the heart.

Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and abstinence from afterthoughts to urgent goals.

We must help protect our children, in our schools and streets, by finally and strictly enforcing our nation’s gun laws. Most of all, we must teach our children the values that defeat violence.

I will lead our nation toward a culture that values life — the life of the elderly and the sick, the life of the young, and the life of the unborn.

I know good people disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption and parental notification, and when Congress sends me a bill against partial-birth abortion, I will sign it into law.

Behind every goal I have talked about tonight is a great hope for our country.

A hundred years from now, this must not be remembered as an age rich in possessions and poor in ideals.

Instead, we must usher in an era of responsibility.

My generation tested limits — and our country, in some ways, is better for it.

Women are now treated more equally. Racial progress has been steady, if still too slow. We are learning to protect the natural world around us.

We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back.

At times, we lost our way. But we are coming home.

So many of us held our first child, and saw a better self reflected in her eyes.

And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol of an even greater love, and have been touched by faith.

We have discovered that who we are is more important than what we have.

And we know we must renew our values to restore our country. This is the vision of America’s founders.

They never saw our nation’s greatness in rising wealth or advancing armies, but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage and self-denial.

Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was “to occupy the land with character.”

And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal … to occupy the land with character.

In a responsibility era, each of us has important tasks — work that only we can do.

Each of us is responsible … to love and guide our children, and help a neighbor in need.

Synagogues, churches and mosques are responsible … not only to worship but to serve. Corporations are responsible … to treat their workers fairly, and leave the air and waters clean.

Our nation’s leaders are responsible … to confront problems, not pass them on to others.

And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, a president himself must be responsible.

And so, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

I believe the presidency — the final point of decision in the American government — was made for great purposes.

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