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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 7, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                           The Oval Office

9:52 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Nice to hear your voice. Are you having a good meeting?

MR. GOLDFARB: It's great, sir, and we're in the middle of it. And everybody is gung-ho, waiting to do the right thing.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, good for you. I thank you for the invitation to come down and address the banquet this evening. And I'm sorry I couldn't come; and I'm very grateful to have this brief chance to speak with you.

Let me begin by saying, on this very special day, that I and all Americans can never forget the services rendered and the sacrifices made by the members of your association. I cherish the occasions that I've had to meet with you and with other members of veteran service organizations; and especially the times that have meant the most to me are the times that we've gathered to honor your efforts in wartime. I look forward to participating in the World War II 50th anniversary commemorations next year.

It was a real honor for me, also, I want to say, to sign the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Proclamation. I can't believe that it took us 53 years to issue the first one; but I'm very glad that we're doing it now.

One other point I wanted to make is that I really appreciate the fact that you, Lee, have sensitized me and the rest of Americans to the fact that we must always recognize the contributions not only of the naval personnel, but of the non-Navy, non-Pearl Harbor people who often are slighted. And I'm glad that your association includes veterans who were stationed throughout the island of Oahu, and not just at Pearl Harbor.

All of you who survived Pearl Harbor, as I'm sure you must know, are a terrific inspiration to all Americans, and a constant reminder that we must remain ever vigilant; that we must never again be unprepared. Just a few days ago, the Secretary of Defense and General Shalikashvili and I made a recommendation to beef up the defense budget in critical areas over the next five years to make sure that we maintain the strongest defense in the world. And that is one of the lessons we have learned from your service and your sacrifice.

Today, let me say again, I join with all the American people in giving thanks to those who served at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and to all the other veterans of World War II for the priceless liberty you have helped us to secure. I thank you for your service in wartime, and I thank you for your continued citizenship and service to our country.

Thank you very much.

MR. GOLDFARB: Thank you, Mr. President, on behalf of all the survivors. Thank you. (Applause.)

END9:55 A.M. EST