It's rightly said that Americans are a religious people. That's in part because the ''Good News'' was translated by Tyndale, preached by Wesley, lived out in the example of William Booth. At times, Americans are even said to have a Puritan streak. And where might that have come from? Well, we can start with the Puritans.
To this fine heritage, Americans have added a few traits of our own: the good influence of our immigrants, the spirit of the frontier. Yet there remains a bit of England in every American. So much of our national character comes from you, and we're glad for it.
The fellowship of generations is the cause of common beliefs. We believe in open societies, ordered by moral conviction. We believe in private markets, humanized by compassionate government. We believe in economies that reward effort, communities that protect the weak, and the duty of nations to respect the dignity and the rights of all.
And whether one learns these ideals in County Durham or in West Texas, they instill mutual respect, and they inspire a common purpose. More than an alliance of security and commerce, the British and American peoples have an alliance of values. And today this old and tested alliance is very strong.
The deepest beliefs of our nations set the direction of our foreign policy. We value our own civil rights, so we stand for the human rights of others. We affirm the God-given dignity of every person, so we're moved to action by poverty and oppression and famine and disease.
The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings. Together our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in a distant land at this very hour. And America honors the idealism and the bravery of the sons and daughters of Britain.
The last president to stay at Buckingham Palace was an idealist, without question. At a dinner hosted by King George V in 1918, Woodrow Wilson made a pledge. With typical American understatement, he vowed that right and justice would become the predominant and controlling force in the world.
President Wilson had come to Europe with his Fourteen Points for Peace. Many complimented him on this vision, yet some were dubious. Take, for example, the prime minister of France. He complained that God himself had only Ten Commandments. Sounds familiar.
At Wilson's high point of idealism, however, Europe was one short generation from Munich and Auschwitz and the Blitz. Looking back, we see the reasons why. The League of Nations, lacking both credibility and will, collapsed at the first challenge of the dictators. Free nations failed to recognize, much less confront, the aggressive evil in plain sight. And so dictators went about their business, feeding resentments and anti-Semitism, bringing death to innocent people in this city and across the world, and filling the last century with violence and genocide.
Through world war and cold war we learned that idealism, if it is to do any good in this world, requires common purpose and national strength, moral courage, and patience in difficult tasks. And now our generation has need of these qualities.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists left their mark of murder on my country and took the lives of 67 British citizens. With the passing of months and years, it is the natural human desire to resume a quiet life and to put that day behind us, as if waking from a dark dream. The hope that danger has passed is comforting, is understanding -- and it is false.