THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Honolulu, Hawaii) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release August 31, 1995
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT ARRIVAL CEREMONY
Hickam Air Force Base Honolulu, Hawaii
12:17 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Sergeant May, thank you for that introduction, and more importantly, thank you for your service. Governor Cayetano, Senator Inouye, Mayor Harris, General Lorber, Admiral Macke, members of the Armed Service, distinguished guests, honored veterans, Senator Akaka, Congressman Abercrombie, ladies and gentlemen. It is wonderful for our family and for me personally to be back in Hawaii. It is a great honor to be here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
We come to celebrate the courage and determination of the Americans who brought us victory in that war. But as we do, our thoughts and prayers must also be with the men and women of our Armed Forces who are putting their bravery and their professionalism on the line in Bosnia.
I want to restate to you and to all the American people why our forces and their NATO allies are engaged in the military operation there. The massacre of civilians in Sarajevo on Monday, caused by a Bosnian Serb shell was an outrageous act in a terrible war, and a challenge to the commitments which NATO had made to oppose such actions by force if necessary. The United States took the lead in gaining those commitments by NATO, and we must help NATO to keep them.
The NATO bombing campaign and the related artillery campaign against the Bosnian Serb military in which our forces are taking part skillfully is the right response to the savagery in Sarajevo. The campaign will make clear to the Bosnian Serbs that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by continuing to attack Sarajevo and other safe areas and by continuing to slaughter innocent civilians. NATO is delivering that message loud and clear. And I hope all of you are proud of the role that the members of the United States Armed Forces are playing in delivering that message. (Applause.)
The war in Bosnia must end, but not on the battle field, rather at the negotiating table. Just two weeks ago we lost three of our finest American diplomatic representatives in a tragic accident in Bosnia as they were working for a negotiated peace. Today our negotiating team continues its work as well. And in the skies above Bosnia, our pilots and crews and their colleagues from other NATO countries are risking their lives for the same peace. We are proud of those who fly and those who are seeking to negotiate the peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is only fitting that we begin to commemorate this 50th anniversary of the end of World War II here at Hickam Air Force Base, for it was here -- right here -- that the guns of war shattered the peace of our land and drew America into the fight for freedom.
Looking out at the active duty troops who are with us today, representatives of the greatest fighting force in the world, standing watch for freedom all over the world, it is hard to imagine just how far our nation had to come to win World War II. Just before 8:00 o'clock on December the 7th, 1941, when the first wave of enemy bombers swooped down upon our planes, parked wing tip to wing tip on this tarmac, all 231 aircraft at Hickam were either destroyed or damaged. At Pearl Harbor, as all of us know all too well, the pride of the Pacific's fleet lay in ruins.
But just a few hours later, just a few hours later, in the depth of our darkest hour, a handful of Army and Navy planes that were still able to fly took to the skies from Hickam in search of the enemy fleet. The long journey to reclaim freedom for the Pacific and for the world began with that first mission from this very field. And it ended 50 years ago this week when the forces of freedom finally triumphed over tyranny.
In the days ahead, we will commemorate that victory, honor its heroes and remember their sacrifice. But we will also celebrate more than the end of war. We will pay tribute to the triumph of peace. Through war in World War II, our people came together as never before. But after the war, they used their newfound sense of unity and common purpose at home and a sense of mission abroad to build for all of us 50 years of security, prosperity and opportunity.
Today, we turn toward a new century, in a very different set of economic and political and social challenges. We now must draw on the legacy of those who won World War II and built peace and prosperity afterward, to do our job to fulfill the spirit of that most remarkable of American generations.
They understood the duty they owed to one another, to their communities, to their nation and to the world. After they won the war, they advanced the peace, the values, the liberties and the opportunities that they fought and died to win.
Here on this island of peace that knows all too well the horror of war, let us vow to carry forward their legacy. The World War II generation taught us that when the American people find strength in their diversity and unity in a common purpose, when we stop arguing about our differences and start embracing what we have in common, nothing -- nothing -- can stop us. (Applause.)
And so I say to you, if we apply the lessons that the World War II generation handed down to us, to the challenges of the 21st century, nothing will stop us.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. And now, as we proceed with the program, I would like to introduce and call forward for some remarks my friend and colleague, your distinguished Governor, Governor Ben Cayetano. (Applause.)
END 12:25 P.M. (L)