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Transcript of Senator Kennedy's speech

The text of Sen. Edward Kennedy's speech Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, as prepared:

Thank you. Thank you, Bob Caro, for that generous introduction. With the continuing support of the people of Massachusetts, I intend to stay in this job until I get the hang of it.

To my fellow delegates and my fellow Democrats, I've waited a very, very long time to say this: Welcome to my hometown!

To Americans everywhere whose aspirations have been kindled anew by this campaign we, who convene here tonight in liberty's cradle, say: Welcome home!

Welcome home for the ideals born in Boston and strengthened by centuries of service and sacrifice. Ideals like freedom and equality and opportunity and fairness and common decency for all -- ideals that all Americans yearn to reclaim.

And make no mistake: Come November, reclaim them we shall by making John Kerry president of the United States.

These fundamental ideals light the fire in each of us to do all we can and then more to see that next January, John Kerry has a nice new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It fills me with pride to have our Democratic Convention in this city this hallowed ground that gave birth to these enduring American ideals. Like my grandfather and my brother before me, I have been privileged to serve this place where every street is history's home: The Old North Church, where lanterns signaled Paul Revere; The Old State House, where John Adams said independence was born; The Golden Steps, where waves of new immigrants entered this new land of liberty and opportunity, including all eight of my own great-grandparents from Ireland.

Here in New England, we love our history, and like all Americans, we learn from it. We breathe it deep, because it sustains us, it guides us, it inspires us.

It was no accident that Massachusetts was founded as a commonwealth, a place where authority belongs not to a single ruler, but to the people themselves, joined together for the common good.

The old system was based on inequality. Loyalty was demanded, never earned. Leaders ruled by fear, by force, by special favors for the few.

Under that old, unequal system, the quality of your connections mattered more than the content of your character. Your voices were not heard. Your concerns did not matter. Your votes did not count.

The colonists knew they could do better, just as we know we can do better today but only if we all work together, only if we all reach out together, only if we all come together for the common good.

Now, it is for us, the patriots of this new century, to do that, to shape our own better future and make it worthy of our past, to choose a leader worthy of our country and that leader is John Kerry.   Continued...

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