What is the value of words? Sen. Barack Obama defended the value of words recently with a "line" given to him by Gov. Deval Patrick: Dont tell me words dont matter. I have a dreamjust words? We the people hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equaljust words? We have nothing to fear but fear itselfjust words? Just speeches? Sen. Obama often quotes great men, giants of humanity like Martin Luther King, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, men like our nation's founding fathers. Were their words, just words? Oh no, not hardly, these are the words of men, who risked their very lives for the ideals and principles their words represented. Men who faced down tyranny and hatred, faced down muskets and Japanese destroyers in the horror of bloody war and battle, faced down firehoses and billy clubs, with the courage and conviction to not only speak those words but heroically defend the principles they espoused, principles such as freedom and equality. Their words have value and meaning and resonance because of who they were, what they'd risked, what they'd sacrificed, what they'd achieved, and what they fought for. No those men, their words weren't merely eloquent and inspiring. They weren't merely words. Sen. Obama is correct about that. Those men's words were the embodiment of all that is fine and noble in the human species. Their words are as heavy and as solid the as freedom they represented. When John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles In Courage, it wasn't fine merely because of the eloquence of the words, but because of the valor and sacrifices he'd made on behalf of the ideas his words embodied. When Dr. King made speeches, those speeches were anchored with the mighty weight of unflinching courage, in bold defiance of oppression and prejudice. Just putting voice to those words put him in mortal jeapordy, as did the founding fathers' words. These men's words Sen. Obama quotes weren't vague or manipulative or self-serving or hollow, and quoting the words of great men, doesn't make one great, or right, or noble, or worthy by association. Those things must be earned, as they earned them. So yes, words matter, but not merely the words themselves, but the men who speak them matter just as much. Perhaps one day Sen. Obama's words will have earned that stature, but not yet. By Teri B.