Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us.  That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years.  Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event.  But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way. 

 

That’s why, working with our military leaders, I have proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.  To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.

 

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it.  As they come home, we must serve them as well as they served us.  That includes giving them the care and benefits they have earned – which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President.  And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our Nation.

 

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we are providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets.  Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families.  And tonight, I’m proposing a Veterans Job Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.

 

Which brings me back to where I began.  Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

 

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden.  On it are each of their names.  Some may be Democrats.  Some may be Republicans.  But that doesn’t matter.  Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president. 

 

All that mattered that day was the mission.  No one thought about politics.  No one thought about themselves.  One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission.  It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs.  More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.

 

So it is with America.  Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes.  No one built this country on their own.  This Nation is great because we built it together.  This Nation is great because we worked as a team.  This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs.  And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard.  As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

 

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.