Tammy Duckworth

Remarks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention - Jul. 28, 2016

Tammy Duckworth
July 28, 2016— Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2016 Democratic National Convention
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Twelve years ago, I was copiloting a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq. A rocket-propelled grenade ripped through our cockpit, and I am only here tonight because of the miracles that followed.

Some I can explain, like the bravery of my crew, determined not to leave me behind.

Some I can't, like the shrapnel from the explosion passing through the spinning rotor blades without destroying them, allowing us to land.

What I do know is that I started that day doing what I loved. I ended it knocked down. Surviving only because my buddies refused to leave me and wouldn't stop, even as they struggled to carry my body, with its missing limbs.

Eleven days later, I woke up with a debt I can never repay.

And I still wake up every morning trying to be worthy of them and their struggle, of this miraculous second chance.

My family and I had been knocked down before.

My dad, a proud Marine, lost his job in his 50s.

For a little time, my dad did odd jobs. My mom took in sewing. I got a minimum-wage job. We relied on food stamps to help us get by.

The summer before I started college, my parents walked everywhere instead of taking the bus.

Once a week, they would hand over that saved up bus money - $10 — to the university housing office, a deposit so I could move into the dorms in the fall.

Thanks to Pell grants, work study, affordable student loans, and lots of waitressing, I fulfilled my dream of college.

I worked hard, but I had a lot of help from my community and my country.

And my story is not unique.

It's a story about why this is the greatest nation on earth — a nation that so many are willing to die defending.

A nation that says if you keep working hard, we won't abandon you.

Of course, in Donald Trump's America, if you get knocked down, you stay down.

By the way, Donald Trump, I didn't put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it. You are not fit to be the commander-in-chief.

My fellow Americans, we can choose a different path.

Ten years after my helicopter was shot down, almost to the day, I got my most important job: I became a mom.

And we named our little girl after Abigail Adams, who urged her husband to "remember the ladies" as he and his colleagues first declared our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—just a few miles from this very spot.

My Abigail already knows that women can fly helicopters in combat.

And in 102 days, when we elect Hillary, my daughter's first memories of a president will be of a woman.

Democrats, tonight, let's go forward with confidence and pride in who we are and what we believe.

We're Democrats because we stand up for the most vulnerable among us.

We embrace the notion that lifting one another up doesn't cost nearly as much as leaving other Americans behind.

We stand up for immigrants and people with disabilities.

And we defend the basic values that have made, and will keep, America the greatest country in the world.

May God bless each and every one of you. May God bless our troops. And always may God bless the United States of America.