Beck said Americans have a choice between allowing the scars of the past to crush them or to learn from the mistakes and move forward. He pointed to the nearby monuments as examples of Americans who have given their lives to the service of the country, singling out Martin Luther King, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
"So what did these great people give their lives for? They gave it for
the American experiment. And that's what this is, an experiment. It's
not just a country, it's an idea — that man can rule himself. That's the
American experiment," Beck said.
At one point Beck became visibly choked up while describing visiting the
Lincoln Memorial with his children. He also quoted the Gettysburg Address at length and said he has been staying in the same hotel where King completed his "I Have a Dream" speech and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was composed.
"I think I can relate to Martin Luther King probably the most because we haven't carved him in marble yet. He's still a man," Beck said, adding that the only difference between the great leaders memorialized nearby and the crowd was their determination to do the right thing, regardless of difficulty. He also drew analogies to the biblical narrative of Moses and the Israelites.
"Have trust in the Lord, and recognize that Moses and Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were men, they were just like you. They just picked up their stick," he said. "Do not stand and look to someone else. Look to yourself. Pick up your stick and stand."
Beck said too many Americans have been looking to someone else for help with their problems, when instead they should be looking inside of themselves and then extending a hand to the needy around them.
"We are a nation quite honestly that is in about as good a shape as I am. Because we've had a soft life," Beck said. "The poorest among us are still some of the richest in the world. The poorest among us have blessings beyond the wildest imagination of anyone that Mother Theresa visited. And yet we don't recognize it."
Instead, he said Americans have grown tired, weak and increasingly divided.
"There is growing hatred in the country. We must be better than what we've allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us," Beck said. "No matter what anyone may say or do, no matter what anyone smears or lies or throws our way or to any American's way, we must look to God and look to love. We must defend those that we disagree with, but are honest and have integrity."
To succeed, Beck said, Americans must first look to themselves and ensure that they are honest, faithful and charitable in their everyday lives. He emphasized the importance of honesty and faith by relating his own journey, during which he said he hit rock bottom and disgraced himself in every possible way before finding God and turning his life around.
"America is great because America is good. But that isn't the entire story. America is only what we choose her to be. We as individuals must be good so America can be great," he said.