PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES
ASK A LAWYER
January 23, 1996
9:14 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 104th Congress,
distinguished guests, my fellow Americans all across our land: Let me
begin tonight by saying to our men and women in uniform around the
world, and especially those helping peace take root in Bosnia and to
their families, I thank you. America is very, very proud of you.
My duty tonight is to report on the state of the Union -- not the state
of our government, but of our American community; and to set forth our
responsibilities, in the words of our Founders, to form a more perfect
The state of the Union is strong. Our economy is the healthiest it has
been in three decades. We have the lowest combined rates of
unemployment and inflation in 27 years. We have completed -- created
nearly 8 million new jobs, over a million of them in basic industries,
like construction and automobiles.
America is selling more cars than Japan for the first time since the
1970s. And for three years in a row, we have had a record number of new
businesses started in our country.
Our leadership in the world is also strong, bringing hope for new peace.
And perhaps most important, we are gaining ground in restoring our
fundamental values. The crime rate, the welfare and food stamp rolls,
the poverty rate and the teen pregnancy rate are all down. And as they
go down, prospects for America's future go up.
We live in an age of possibility. A hundred years ago we moved from
farm to factory. Now we move to an age of technology, information, and
global competition. These changes have opened vast new opportunities
for our people, but they have also presented them with stiff challenges.
While more Americans are living better, too many of our fellow citizens
are working harder just to keep up, and they are rightly concerned about
the security of their families.
We must answer here three fundamental questions: First, how do we make
the American Dream of opportunity for all a reality for all Americans
who are willing to work for it? Second, how do we preserve our old and
enduring values as we move into the future? And, third, how do we meet
these challenges together, as one America?
We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there's
not a program for every problem. We know, and we have worked to give
the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in
Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives
within its means. The era of big government is over. But we cannot go
back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.
Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together
to meet the challenges we face together.
Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both.
I believe our new, smaller government must work in an old-fashioned
American way, together with all of our citizens through state and local
governments, in the workplace, in religious, charitable and civic
associations. Our goal must be to enable all our people to make the
most of their own lives -- with stronger families, more educational
opportunity, economic security, safer streets, a cleaner environment in
a safer world.
To improve the state of our Union, we must ask more of ourselves, we
must expect more of each other, and we must face our challenges
Here, in this place, our responsibility begins with balancing the budget
in a way that is fair to all Americans. There is now broad bipartisan
agreement that permanent deficit spending must come to an end.
I compliment the Republican leadership and the membership for the energy
and determination you have brought to this task of balancing the budget.
And I thank the Democrats for passing the largest deficit reduction plan
in history in 1993, which has already cut the deficit nearly in half in
Since 1993, we have all begun to see the benefits of deficit reduction.
Lower interest rates have made it easier for businesses to borrow and to
invest and to create new jobs. Lower interest rates have brought down
the cost of home mortgages, car payments and credit card rates to
ordinary citizens. Now, it is time to finish the job and balance the
Though differences remain among us which are significant, the combined
total of the proposed savings that are common to both plans is more than
enough, using the numbers from your Congressional Budget Office to
balance the budget in seven years and to provide a modest tax cut.
These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone. But
these cuts do not undermine are fundamental obligations to our parents,
our children, and our future, by endangering Medicare, or Medicaid, or
education, or the environment, or by raising taxes on working families.
I have said before, and let me say again, many good ideas have come out
of our negotiations. I have learned a lot about the way both
Republicans and Democrats view the debate before us. I have learned a
lot about the good ideas have that we could all embrace.
We ought to resolve our remaining differences. I am willing to work to
resolve them. I am ready to meet tomorrow. But I ask you to consider
that we should at least enact these savings that both plans have in
common and give the American people their balanced budget, a tax cut,
lower interest rates, and a brighter future. We should do that now and
make permanent deficits yesterday's legacy.
Now it is time for us to look also to the challenges of today and
tomorrow, beyond the burdens of yesterday. The challenges are
significant. But our nation was built on challenges. America was built
on challenges, not promises. And when we work together to meet them, we
never fail. That is the key to a more perfect Union.
Our individual dreams must be realized by our common efforts.
Tonight I want to speak to you about the challenges we all face as a
people. Our first challenge is to cherish our children and strengthen
America's families. Family is the foundation of American life. If we
have stronger families, we will have a stronger America.
Before I go on, I'd like to take just a moment to thank my own family,
and to thank the person who has taught me more than anyone else over 25
years about the importance of families and children -- a wonderful wife,
a magnificent mother and a great First Lady. Thank you, Hillary.
All strong families begin with taking more responsibility for our
children. I've heard Mrs. Gore say that it's hard to be a parent today,
but it's even harder to be a child. So all of us, not just as parents,
but all of us in our other roles -- our media, our schools, our
teachers, our communities, our churches and synagogues, our businesses,
our governments -- all of us have a responsibility to help our children
to make it and to make the most of their lives and their God-given
To the media, I say you should create movies and CDs and television
shows you'd want your own children and grandchildren to enjoy.
I call on Congress to pass the requirement for a V chip in TV sets so
that parents can screen out programs they believe are inappropriate for
their children. When parents control what their young children see,
that is not censorship; that is enabling parents to assume more personal
responsibility for their children's upbringing. And I urge them to do
it. The V chip requirement is part of the important telecommunications
bill now pending in this Congress. It has bipartisan support, and I
urge you to pass it now.
To make the V chip work, I challenge the broadcast industry to do what
movies have done -- to identify your program in ways that help parents
to protect their children. And I invite the leaders of major media
corporations in the entertainment industry to come to the White House
next month to work with us in a positive way on concrete ways to improve
what our children see on television. I am ready to work with you.
I say to those who make and market cigarettes, every year a million
children take up smoking, even though it's against the law. Three
hundred thousand of them will have their lives shortened as a result.
Our administration has taken steps to stop the massive marketing
campaigns that appeal to our children. We are simply saying: Market
your products to adults, if you wish, but draw the line on children.
I say to those who are on welfare, and especially to those who have been
trapped on welfare for a long time: For too long our welfare system has
undermined the values of family and work, instead of supporting them.
The Congress and I are near agreement on sweeping welfare reform. We
agree on time limits, tough work requirements, and the toughest possible
child support enforcement. But I believe we must also provide child
care so that mothers who are required to go to work can do so without
worrying about what is happening to their children.
I challenge this Congress to send me a bipartisan welfare reform bill
that will really move people from welfare to work and do the right thing
by our children. I will sign it immediately.
Let us be candid about this difficult problem. Passing a law, even the
best possible law, is only a first step. The next step is to make it
work. I challenge people on welfare to make the most of this
opportunity for independence. I challenge American businesses to give
people on welfare the chance to move into the work force. I applaud the
work of religious groups and other who care for the poor. More than
anyone else in our society, they know the true difficulty of the task
before us, and they are in a position to help.
Everyone of us should join them. That is the only way we can make real
welfare reform a reality in the lives of the American people.
To strengthen the family we must do everything we can to keep the teen
pregnancy rate going down. I am gratified, as I'm sure all Americans
are, that it has dropped for two years in a row. But we all know it is
still far too high.
Tonight I am pleased to announce that a group of prominent Americans is
responding to that challenge by forming an organization that will
support grass-roots community efforts all across our country in a
national campaign against teen pregnancy. And I challenge all of us and
every American to join their efforts.
I call on American men and women in families to give greater respect to
one another. We must end the deadly scourge of domestic violence in our
country. And I challenge America's families to work harder to stay
together. For families who stay together not only do better
economically, their children do better as well.
In particular, I challenge the fathers of this country to love and care
for their children. If your family has separated, you must pay your
child support. We're doing more than ever to make sure you do, and
we're going to do more, but let's all admit something about that, too:
A check will substitute for a parent's love and guidance. And only you
-- only you can make the decision to help raise your children. No
matter who you are, how low or high your station in life, it is the most
basic human duty of every American to do that job to the best of his or
Our second challenge is to provide Americans with the educational
opportunities we'll all need for this new century. In our schools,
every classroom in America must be connected to the information
superhighway, with computers and good software, and well-trained
teachers. We are working with the telecommunications industry,
educators and parents to connect 20 percent of California's classrooms
by this spring, and every classroom and every library in the entire
United States by the year 2000. I ask Congress to support this
education technology initiative so that we can make sure this national
Every diploma ought to mean something. I challenge every community,
every school and every state to adopt national standards of excellence;
to measure whether schools are meeting those standards; to cut
bureaucratic red tape so that schools and teachers have more flexibility
for grass-roots reform; and to hold them accountable for results.
That's what our Goals 2000 initiative is all about.
I challenge every state to give all parents the right to choose which
public school their children will attend; and to let teachers form new
schools with a charter they can keep only if they do a good job.
I challenge all our schools to teach character education, to teach good
values and good citizenship. And if it means that teenagers will stop
killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should
be able to require their students to wear school uniforms.
I challenge our parents to become their children's first teachers. Turn
off the TV. See that the homework is done. And visit your children's
classroom. No program, no teacher, no one else can do that for you.
My fellow Americans, higher education is more important today than ever
before. We've created a new student loan program that's made it easier
to borrow and repay those loans, and we have dramatically cut the
student loan default rate. That's something we should all be proud of
because it was unconscionably high just a few years ago.
Through AmeriCorps, our national service program, this year 25,000 young
people will earn college money by serving their local communities to
improve the lives of their friends and neighbors.
These initiatives are right for America and we should keep them going.
And we should also work hard to open the doors of college even wider. I
challenge Congress to expand work-study and help one million young
Americans work their way through college by the year 2000; to provide a
$1000 merit scholarship for the top five percent of graduates in every
high school in the United States; -- (applause) -- to expand Pell Grant
scholarships for deserving and needy students; and to make up to $10,000
a year of college tuition tax deductible. It's a good idea for America.
Our third challenge is to help every American who is willing to work for
it, achieve economic security in this new age.
People who work hard still need support to get ahead in the new economy.
They need education and training for a lifetime. They need more support
for families raising children. They need retirement security. They
need access to health care. More and more Americans are finding that
the education of their childhood simply doesn't last a lifetime.
So I challenge Congress to consolidate 70 overlapping, antiquated job-
training programs into a simple voucher worth $2,600 for unemployed or
underemployed workers to use as they please for community college
tuition or other training. This is a G.I. Bill for America's workers we
should all be able to agree on.
More and more Americans are working hard without a raise. Congress sets
the minimum wage. Within a year, the minimum wage will fall to a 40-
year low in purchasing power. Four dollars and 25 cents an hour is no
longer a minimum wage, but millions of Americans and their children are
trying to live on it. I challenge you to raise their minimum wage.
In 1993, Congress cut the taxes of 15 million hard-pressed working
families to make sure that no parents who work full-time would have to
raise their children in poverty, and to encourage people to move from
welfare to work. This expanded earned income tax credit is now worth
about $1,800 a year to a family of four living on $20,000. The budget
bill I vetoed would have reversed this achievement and raised taxes on
nearly 8 million of these people. We should not do that. We should not
I also agree that the people who are helped under this initiative are
not all those in our country who are working hard to do a good job
raising their children and at work. I agree that we need a tax credit
for working families with children. That's one of the things most of us
in this Chamber, I hope, can agree on. I know it is strongly supported
by the Republican majority. And it should be part of any final budget
I want to challenge every business that can possibly afford it to
provide pensions for your employees. And I challenge Congress to pass a
proposal recommended by the White House Conference on Small Business
that would make it easier for small businesses and farmers to establish
their own pension plans. That is something we should all agree on.
We should also protect existing pension plans. Two years ago, with
bipartisan support that was almost unanimous on both sides of the aisle,
we moved to protect the pensions of 8 million working people and to
stabilize the pensions of 32 million more. Congress should not now let
companies endanger those workers's pension funds.
I know the proposal to liberalize the ability of employers to take money
out of pension funds for other purposes would raise money for the
treasury. But I believe it is false economy. I vetoed that proposal
last year, and I would have to do so again.
Finally, if our working families are going to succeed in the new
economy, they must be able to buy health insurance policies that they do
not lose when they change jobs or when someone in their family gets
sick. Over the past two years, over one million Americans in working
families have lost their health insurance. We have to do more to make
health care available to every American. And Congress should start by
passing the bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Kennedy and Senator
Kassebaum that would require insurance companies to stop dropping people
when they switch jobs, and stop denying coverage for preexisting
conditions. Let's all do that.
And even as we enact savings in these programs, we must have a common
commitment to preserve the basic protections of Medicare and Medicaid --
not just to the poor, but to people in working families, including
children, people with disabilities, people with AIDS, senior citizens in
In the past three years, we've saved $15 billion just by fighting health
care fraud and abuse. We have all agreed to save much more. We have
all agreed to stabilize the Medicare Trust Fund. But we must not
abandon our fundamental obligations to the people who need Medicare and
Medicaid. America cannot become stronger if they become weaker.
The G.I. Bill for workers, tax relief for education and child rearing,
pension availability and protection, access to health care, preservation
of Medicare and Medicaid -- these things, along with the Family and
Medical Leave Act passed in 1993 -- these things will help responsible,
hard-working American families to make the most of their own lives.
But employers and employees must do their part, as well, as they are
doing in so many of our finest companies -- working together, putting
the long-term prosperity ahead of the short-term gain. As workers
increase their hours and their productivity, employers should make sure
they get the skills they need and share the benefits of the good years,
as well as the burdens of the bad ones. When companies and workers work
as a team they do better, and so does America.
Our fourth great challenge is to take our streets back from crime and
gangs and drugs. At last we have begun to find a way to reduce crime,
forming community partnerships with local police forces to catch
criminals and prevent crime. This strategy, called community policing,
is clearly working. Violent crime is coming down all across America.
In New York City murders are down 25 percent; in St. Louis, 18 percent;
in Seattle, 32 percent. But we still have a long way to go before our
streets are safe and our people are free from fear.
The Crime Bill of 1994 is critical to the success of community policing.
It provides funds for 100,000 new police in communities of all sizes.
We're already a third of the way there. And I challenge the Congress to
finish the job. Let us stick with a strategy that's working and keep
the crime rate coming down.
Community policing also requires bonds of trust between citizens and
police. I ask all Americans to respect and support our law enforcement
officers. And to our police, I say, our children need you as role
models and heroes. Don't let them down.
The Brady Bill has already stopped 44,000 people with criminal records
from buying guns. The assault weapons ban is keeping 19 kinds of
assault weapons out of the hands of violent gangs. I challenge the
Congress to keep those laws on the books.
Our next step in the fight against crime is to take on gangs the way we
once took on the mob. I'm directing the FBI and other investigative
agencies to target gangs that involve juveniles and violent crime, and
to seek authority to prosecute as adults teenagers who maim and kill
And I challenge local housing authorities and tenant associations:
Criminal gang members and drug dealers are destroying the lives of
decent tenants. From now on, the rule for residents who commit crime
and pedal drugs should be one strike and you're out.
I challenge every state to match federal policy to assure that serious
violent criminals serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
More police and punishment are important, but they're not enough. We
have got to keep more of our young people out of trouble, with
prevention strategies not dictated by Washington, but developed in
communities. I challenge all of our communities, all of our adults, to
give our children futures to say yes to. And I challenge Congress not
to abandon the Crime Bill's support of these grass-roots prevention
Finally, to reduce crime and violence we have to reduce the drug
problem. The challenge begins in our homes, with parents talking to
their children openly and firmly. It embraces our churches and
synagogues, our youth groups and our schools.
I challenge Congress not to cut our support for drug-free schools.
People like the DARE officers are making a real impression on grade
schoolchildren that will give them the strength to say no when the time
Meanwhile, we continue our efforts to cut the flow of drugs into
America. For the last two years, one man in particular has been on the
front lines of that effort. Tonight I am nominating him -- a hero of
the Persian Gulf War and the Commander in Chief of the United States
Military Southern Command -- General Barry McCaffrey, as America's new
General McCaffrey has earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars
fighting for this country. Tonight I ask that he lead our nation's
battle against drugs at home and abroad. To succeed, he needs a force
far larger than he has ever commanded before. He needs all of us.
Every one of us has a role to play on this team.
Thank you, General McCaffrey, for agreeing to serve your country one
Our fifth challenge: to leave our environment safe and clean for the
next generation. Because of a generation of bipartisan effort we do
have cleaner water and air, lead levels in children's blood has been cut
by 70 percent, toxic emissions from factories cut in half. Lake Erie
was dead, and now it's a thriving resource. But 10 million children
under 12 still live within four miles of a toxic waste dump. A third of
us breathe air that endangers our health. And in too many communities
the water is not safe to drink. We still have much to do.
Yet Congress has voted to cut environmental enforcement by 25 percent.
That means more toxic chemicals in our water, more smog in our air, more
pesticides in our food. Lobbyists for polluters have been allowed to
write their own loopholes into bills to weaken laws that protect the
health and safety of our children. Some say that the taxpayer should
pick up the tab for toxic waste and let polluters who can afford to fix
it off the hook. I challenge Congress to reexamine those policies and
to reverse them.
This issue has not been a partisan issue. The most significant
environmental gains in the last 30 years were made under a Democratic
Congress and President Richard Nixon. We can work together. We have to
believe some basic things. Do you believe we can expand the economy
without hurting the environment? I do. Do you believe we can create
more jobs over the long run by cleaning the environment up? I know we
can. That should be our commitment.
We must challenge businesses and communities to take more initiative in
protecting the environment, and we have to make it easier for them to do
it. To businesses this administration is saying: If you can find a
cheaper, more efficient way than government regulations require to meet
tough pollution standards, do it -- as long as you do it right. To
communities we say: We must strengthen community right-to-know laws
requiring polluters to disclose their emissions, but you have to use the
information to work with business to cut pollution. People do have a
right to know that their air and their water are safe.
Our sixth challenge is to maintain America's leadership in the fight for
freedom and peace throughout the world. Because of American leadership,
more people than ever before live free and at peace. And Americans have
known 50 years of prosperity and security.
We owe thanks especially to our veterans of World War II. I would like
to say to Senator Bob Dole and to all others in this Chamber who fought
in World War II, and to all others on both sides of the aisle who have
fought bravely in all our conflicts since: I salute your service and so
do the American people.
All over the world, even after the Cold War, people still look to us and
trust us to help them seek the blessings of peace and freedom. But as
the Cold War fades into memory, voices of isolation say America should
retreat from its responsibilities. I say they are wrong.
The threats we face today as Americans respect no nation's borders.
Think of them: terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction,
organized crime, drug trafficking, ethnic and religious hatred,
aggression by rogue states, environmental degradation. If we fail to
address these threats today, we will suffer the consequences in all our
Of course, we can't be everywhere. Of course, we can't do everything.
But where our interests and our values are at stake, and where we can
make a difference, America must lead. We must not be isolationist. We
must not be the world's policeman. But we can and should be the world's
very best peacemaker.
By keeping our military strong, by using diplomacy where we can and
force where we must, by working with others to share the risk and the
cost of our efforts, America is making a difference for people here and
around the world. For the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age
-- for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age -- there is not
a single Russian missile pointed at America's children.
North Korea has now frozen its dangerous nuclear weapons program. In
Haiti, the dictators are gone, democracy has a new day, the flow of
desperate refugees to our shores has subsided. Through tougher trade
deals for America -- over 80 of them -- we have opened markets abroad,
and now exports are at an all-time high, growing faster than imports and
creating good American jobs.
We stood with those taking risks for peace: In Northern Ireland, where
Catholic and Protestant children now tell their parents, violence must
never return. In the Middle East, where Arabs and Jews who once seemed
destined to fight forever now share knowledge and resources, and even
And we stood up for peace in Bosnia. Remember the skeletal prisoners,
the mass graves, the campaign to rape and torture, the endless lines of
refugees, the threat of a spreading war. All these threats, all these
horrors have now begun to give way to the promise of peace. Now, our
troops and a strong NATO, together with our new partners from Central
Europe and elsewhere, are helping that peace to take hold.
As all of you know, I was just there with a bipartisan congressional
group, and I was so proud not only of what our troops were doing, but of
the pride they evidenced in what they were doing. They knew what
America's mission in this world is, and they were proud to be carrying
Through these efforts, we have enhanced the security of the American
people. But make no mistake about it: important challenges remain.
The START II Treaty with Russia will cut our nuclear stockpiles by
another 25 percent. I urge the Senate to ratify it now. We must end
the race to create new nuclear weapons by signing a truly comprehensive
nuclear test ban treaty this year.
As we remember what happened in the Japanese subway, we can outlaw
poison gas forever if the Senate ratifies the Chemical Weapons
Convention this year. We can intensify the fight against terrorists and
organized criminals at home and abroad if Congress passes the anti-
terrorism legislation I proposed after the Oklahoma City bombing now.
We can help more people move from hatred to hope all across the world in
our own interest if Congress gives us the means to remain the world's
leader for peace.
My fellow Americans, the six challenges I have just discussed are for
all of us. Our seventh challenge is really America's challenge to those
of us in this hallowed hall tonight: to reinvent our government and
make our democracy work for them.
Last year this Congress applied to itself the laws it applies to
everyone else. This Congress banned gifts and meals from lobbyists.
This Congress forced lobbyists to disclose who pays them and what
legislation they are trying to pass or kill. This Congress did that,
and I applaud you for it.
Now I challenge Congress to go further -- to curb special interest
influence in politics by passing the first truly bipartisan campaign
reform bill in a generation. You, Republicans and Democrats alike, can
show the American people that we can limit spending and we can open the
airwaves to all candidates.
I also appeal to Congress to pass the line-item veto you promised the
Our administration is working hard to give the American people a
government that works better and costs less. Thanks to the work of Vice
President Gore, we are eliminating 16,000 pages of unnecessary rules and
regulations, shifting more decision-making out of Washington, back to
states and local communities.
As we move into the era of balanced budgets and smaller government, we
must work in new ways to enable people to make the most of their own
lives. We are helping America's communities, not with more bureaucracy,
but with more opportunities. Through our successful empowerment zones
and community development banks, we're helping people to find jobs, to
start businesses. And with tax incentives for companies that clean up
abandoned industrial property, we can bring jobs back to places that
desperately, desperately need them.
But there are some areas that the federal government should not leave
and should address and address strongly. One of these areas is the
problem of illegal immigration. After years of neglect, this
administration has taken a strong stand to stiffen the protection of our
borders. We are increasing border controls by 50 percent. We are
increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. And
tonight, I announce I will sign an executive order to deny federal
contracts to businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
Let me be very clear about this: We are still a nation of immigrants;
we should be proud of it. We should honor every legal immigrant here,
working hard to be a good citizen, working hard to become a new citizen.
But we are also a nation of laws.
I want to say a special word now to those who work for our federal
government. Today our federal is 200,000 employees smaller than it was
the day I took office as President.
Our federal government today is the smallest it has been in 30 years,
and it's getting smaller every day. Most of our fellow Americans
probably don't know that. And there's a good reason -- a good reason:
The remaining federal work force is composed of hard-working Americans
who are now working harder and working smarter than ever before to make
sure the quality of our services does not decline.
I'd like to give you one example. His name is Richard Dean. He's a 49
year-old Vietnam veteran who's worked for the Social Security
Administration for 22 years now. Last year he was hard at work in the
Federal Building in Oklahoma City when the blast killed 169 people and
brought the rubble down all around him. He reentered that building four
times. He saved the lives of three women. He's here with us this
evening, and I want to recognize Richard and applaud both his public
service and his extraordinary personal heroism.
But Richard Dean's story doesn't end there. This last November, he was
forced out of his office when the government shut down. And the second
time the government shut down he continued helping Social Security
recipients, but he was working without pay.
On behalf of Richard Dean and his family, and all the other people who
are out there working every day doing a good job for the American
people, I challenge all of you in this Chamber: Never, ever shut the
federal government down again.
On behalf of all Americans, especially those who need their Social
Security payments at the beginning of March, I also challenge the
Congress to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States --
to honor the obligations of this great nation as we have for 220 years;
to rise above partisanship and pass a straightforward extension of the
debt limit and show people America keeps its word.
I know that this evening I have asked a lot of Congress, and even more
from America. But I am confident: When Americans work together in
their homes, their schools, their churches, their synagogues, their
civic groups, their workplace, they can meet any challenge.
I say again, the era of big government is over. But we can't go back to
the era of fending for yourself. We have to go forward to the era of
working together as a community, as a team, as one America, with all of
us reaching across these lines that divide us -- the division, the
discrimination, the rancor -- we have to reach across it to find common
ground. We have got to work together if we want America to work.
I want you to meet two more people tonight who do just that. Lucius
Wright is a teacher in the Jackson, Mississippi, public school system.
A Vietnam veteran, he has created groups to help inner-city children
turn away from gangs and build futures they can believe in. Sergeant
Jennifer Rodgers is a police officer in Oklahoma City. Like Richard
Dean, she helped to pull her fellow citizens out of the rubble and deal
with that awful tragedy. She reminds us that in their response to that
atrocity the people of Oklahoma City lifted all of us with their basic
sense of decency and community.
Lucius Wright and Jennifer Rodgers are special Americans. And I have
the honor to announce tonight that they are the very first of several
thousand Americans who will be chosen to carry the Olympic torch on its
long journey from Los Angeles to the centennial of the modern Olympics
in Atlanta this summer -- not because they are star athletes, but
because they are star citizens, community heroes meeting America's
challenges. They are our real champions.
Please stand up.
Now, each of us must hold high the torch of citizenship in our own
lives. None of us can finish the race alone. We can only achieve our
destiny together -- one hand, one generation, one American connecting to
There have always been things we could to together, dreams we could make
real which we could never have done on our own.
We Americans have forged our identity, our very union, from the very
point of view that we can accommodate every point on the planet, every
different opinion. But we must be bound together by a faith more
powerful than any doctrine that divides us -- by our believe in
progress, our love of liberty, and our relentless search for common
America has always sought and always risen to every challenge. Who
would say that having come so far together, we will not go forward from
here? Who would say that this age of possibility is not for all
Our country is and always has been a great and good nation. But the
best is yet to come if we all do our parts.
Thank you, God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
END 10:15 P.M. EST
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.