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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 30, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                      AT MEMORIAL DAY BREAKFAST
                           The State Floor

9:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Herschel, for that kind introduction and for the good work that you do for our veterans everyday. Secretary Perry, Postmaster General Runyon, General Shalikashvili and the Chiefs of our military services, General Gordon at the Military District here in Washington. To the other distinguished guests who are here. Let me welcome you here for another happy and honorable Memorial Day.

I'd like to begin, if I might, by asking one person here to stand and be acknowledged. I want to say a special word of thanks to General Mick Kicklighter and the World War II Commemoration Committee for remarkable work they have done in organizing this commemoration and what we are about to do in the coming week. General, please stand up. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)

In just a few moments I will sign two proclamations -- one a prayer for peace on Memorial Day, and the other the declaration of D-Day National Remembrance Day. Before I do that and before Postmaster General Runyon unveils this year's additions to the World War II commemorative stamps, I'd like to say just a word about this occasion.

Fifty years ago our nation and our allies were engaged in a monumental struggle, the outcome of which was far from clear for quite a long while. Americans from all walks of life were called far from their homes and their families. Franklin Roosevelt spoke of their mission on the morning of the 6th of June, D-Day: "Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a might endeavor -- a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. They fight not for the lust of conquest, they fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise and tolerance and goodwill among all God's people."

Today we enjoyed the fruits of that toil. We owe our liberty and our prosperity to the strength and the valor of those who fought in that great struggle. But we also inherit the responsibility of defending that gift. We must be the guardians of the freedom that was delivered to us -- today, by what we do here at home to keep freedom alive and to enhance its meaning, and around the world our men and women in uniform stand guard, guaranteeing and defending that freedom.

I think the veterans of D-Day in World War II who are here must take a great deal of pride in knowing that today's men and women in uniform are the finest, most well-motivated Armed Forces our nation or any nation has ever known. Our highest commitment must be to ensure that they remain so -- best-trained, best-equipped, bestprepared. If they must be in harm's way, they must have the support they need and deserve.

As we observe the 50th anniversary of World War II, we must also pause to remember and to pay tribute to those who did not come home, to honor them for the ultimate sacrifice, to honor their families, their friends, those who love them. Also, we must honor those who are here and those they represent who did come home after service in World War II, and all those who have guarded our security since. Our nation is in your debt. We will never forget your valor, your sacrifices, the daily lives that you have made possible.

Let me say, too, a special word of appreciation to those of you who came through the line today who told me that you, too, were going back to Europe this week to be part of that celebration. I hope when you go back, you will feel the immense pride and gratitude that all Americans feel, for the sacrifice you made, the commitment you made, and for all the days you made possible in the 50 years since. And I hope everyone else who is here being honored today will also share in some of that pride.

We sometimes forget that no democracy in human history has ever lasted as long as the United States of America. It is easy to forget that. It is easy to forget it, but if you measure against all the recorded history of civilization, every day we have is a miracle -- a miracle that you made possible, and we thank you for it. (Applause.)

I'm going to sign a proclamations, and then Mr. Gober and Mr. Runyon are in charge of the rest of the program.


END 9:37 A.M. EDT