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Text Of Barack Obama's Speech To Children For Sept. 8, 2009

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That's why today, I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education — and to do everything you can to meet them.Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book.Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community.Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn.Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn.And along those lines, I hope you'll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it.I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you're not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard.You won't love every subject you study.You won't click with every teacher.Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute.And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That's OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures.JK Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published.Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career.But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life.And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can't let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you.You have to let them show you what to do differently next time.If you get in trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave.If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one's born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work.You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport.You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song.You've got to practice.It's the same with your schoolwork.You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.I do that every day.Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength.It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new.So find an adult you trust — a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor — and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you — don't ever give up on yourself.Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough.It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation.Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon.Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what's your contribution going to be?What problems are you going to solve?What discoveries will you make?What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions.I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn.But you've got to do your part too.So I expect you to get serious this year.I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do.I expect great things from each of you.So don't let us down — don't let your family or your country or yourself down.Make us all proud.I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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Linda Milazzo was a Managing Editor of Opednews until Fall 2014, and a Los Angeles based writer, educator and activist. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development (more...)
 

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