Early in the morning of June 6, 1944, General Eisenhower issued his order of the day to the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were setting out on the most dangerous mission in defense of democracy, about to experience history’s ‘longest day.’ He wrote: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”
Today, the eyes of the world will be upon us. The hopes and prayers of those who cherish democracy and those who still yearn for it are looking to America once more. They are looking with excitement and worry to the tens of millions of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who are banding together to vote for honesty, decency, truth, justice, and democracy.
For four years, we have been tested: by division, by conflict, by those who believed they could break our resolve by going lower and lower and lower still. We have been tested by those who did not know our strength or commitment to the democratic norms and principles — and the common decency and goodwill — that have sustained us for more than two centuries.
We have been tested by those who claimed they were defending the idea that America is exceptional yet did everything they could to prove the opposite. Today, ‘We The People’ will have the chance to demonstrate to the world once again that America is indeed exceptional.
We are exceptional because we will not abandon our principles or our ideals. We are an exceptional nation not because we cling stubbornly to a narrow sense of our identity but because we remain open to an inclusive vision of a diverse and pluralistic society. America is exceptional because we choose justice over expediency and because we believe that we are stronger when we stand together.
‘We The People’ — Democrats, Republicans, and independents who together yearn for that America and believe it is not lost — must now come to our country’s rescue in this, its hour of peril. Our fellow Americans and people around the world are watching and praying for our success. Young Americans not yet able to vote are looking to us to save the democracy they stand to inherit.
This will be a long day indeed, and tonight promises to stretch even longer. We may not know the outcome of this election for some days. But what we do know is that those of us who cherish what makes America truly exceptional have worked harder than any believed we could to keep it that way. We confronted challenges greater than we expected. And, over the past four years, we persisted in the face of dangers we never imagined for our nation or the world.
I am confident that, when the dust has cleared, our nation will show the world once again how democracy triumphs. That we will deliver a sharp rebuke to those who would undermine democracy by trying to make us lose faith in it. This time, we go into battle not with arms but with our votes. We will brave neither the crashing of waves nor a barrage of enemy fire but waves of misinformation and a maelstrom of division and despair.
Such a hard-won victory will have been well-earned. It will be a victory not for one party but for one country, not for Democrats but for democracy.
As Joe Biden has said, that victory will be only the beginning of a long and difficult struggle. But if we begin that struggle together, “as one nation, under God, indivisible,” surely we shall overcome. Those of us who were repulsed by the dangers of Donald Trump and the threat he has posed to our democracy will now have to commit to remaining engaged and involved. Because what we have learned from the past four years is that democracy only works — democracy can only survive and succeed — if we all play our part.
The eyes of the world are now upon us. Let our order for this day be to march forward together and show the world once again why American democracy will not only endure but continue to inspire by delivering the justice, freedom, and opportunity it promises.
By the dim light of candles or flashlights under the darkest sky, our soldiers, sailors, and airmen read the final words of General Eisenhower’s letter: “Good luck! And us beseech the blessing of almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
Godspeed, my fellow Americans, as we greet the dawn of this long, new day ahead.