On Gandhi Service Day, October 2, 2008:
It’s a pleasure for me to join today in commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s day of birth, celebrated across America and around the world by service to our neighbors and other good works. Gandhi’s commitment to creating positive change by bringing people together peacefully to demand it resonate as strongly today as they did during his lifetime. Through the power of his example and his own unshakeable spirit, he inspired a people to resist oppression, sparking a revolution that freed a nation from colonial rule. In formulating his strategy to achieve freedom, Gandhi had a choice, and he chose courage over fear.
America faces many choices as we work to address the challenges of our time. We must act from a place of strength and conviction to reclaim the high road and position of moral leadership that has defined the United States at its best.
Gandhi’s significance is universal. Countless people around the world have been touched by his spirit and example — his victory in turn inspired a generation of young Americans to peacefully wipe out a system of overt oppression that had endured for a century, and more recently led to velvet revolutions in Eastern Europe and extinguished apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of their great debt to Gandhi. His portrait hangs in my office to remind me that real change will not come from Washington — it will come when the people, united, bring it to Washington.
This is a pivotal election. This is our time for change. For far too long, we’ve watched as ordinary Americans work harder and harder for less and less. We’ve watched our standing in the world erode as we continue to lose American lives in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged. I need you to stand up and work for change. Let us all rededicate ourselves, every day from now until November 4th, and beyond, to living Gandhi’s call to be the change we wish to see in the world.