THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 23, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND CHANCELLOR KOHL TO THE PEOPLE OF MILWAUKEE Pere Marquette Park Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1:00 P.M. CDT
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Whoa. Thank you, Jasmine, and thank you, J.P. Weren't they great? Those kids were great. Thank you. (Applause.) Governor Thompson, County Executive Ament, Mayor Norquist, Attorney General Doyle. Ladies and gentlemen, Chancellor Kohl and I are delighted to be here. We thank the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin for a wonderful, wonderful welcome.
I want to also say a special word of thanks to the Rufus King High School Marching Band that played our national anthem. (Applause.) And those who performed before us, the Alta Kameraden Band, the choir Moisbach, from Moisbach, Germany, and the Milwaukee High School for the Arts jazz ensemble. Thank you all. (Applause.)
I was asked to say that Senator Feingold and Senator Kohl wanted to be here, but they had to stay in Washington to vote on the budget. Chancellor Kohl is trying to find some way of being related to Senator Kohl -- he thinks he will inherit half of the basketball team if he does. (Laughter.) We are researching the records even as I speak. (Laughter.) Congressman Barrett and Representative Kleczka also had to stay behind because they wanted a chance to vote on an increase in the minimum wage for the people of Milwaukee. (Applause.)
I want to say also a special word of thanks to the people who run the German Immersion School. It's the only public elementary school in our country where the entire curriculum is taught in German. They won a blue ribbon award from the Department of Education and, as you can see, my German is a little rustier than theirs is, but I thought the children were wirklich wunderbar. They were terrific and I believe we should congratulate them. (Applause.)
Just two years ago when Hillary and I were in Germany, Helmut and Hannelore Kohl opened their home to us. World leaders don't often get to visit in each other's homes and I thought that there ought to be something I could to kind of repay his extraordinary hospitality. So I thought he ought to have a chance, after 23 trips to Washington, D.C., to come to a place where he could get some really great bratwurst -- (applause) -- where everywhere he turns around there's a sign with a German name on it, and where he could feel at home in America's most German-American city. So thank you, Milwaukee, for making him feel so welcome. (Applause.)
My fellow Americans, we stand on the verge of the greatest age of possibility in all human history. Because of the advances in technology, the arrival of the Information Age, the end of the Cold War, the emergence of a global society, there are enormous opportunities for people to live in peace and prosperity -- for Americans, for Germans, for people all around the world.
But if we want to seize those opportunities, we must decide that we are going to be united with our friends all around the world, with friends like Germany -- and America has no better friend than Germany -- and we have to decide that amidst all of our diversities in the United States we're going to be united here, too, one nation under God, reaching across the lines of race and region and income to grow and go forward together as one American family. (Applause.)
As I look out on this vast crowd today, I see a picture of America -- all different kinds of people, different races, different religions, bound together by the American creed. And I thank you for that. I want my fellow Americans to know that the United States has no better friend anywhere in the world than Germany, and especially the Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl. I am grateful to him and all of us should be. (Applause.)
And I want the German Chancellor to know that America has no better example of a state committed to reach out to the rest of the world than the state of Wisconsin, a state which is making the new global economy work for its citizens. You know, J.P. Tucker and Jasmine, they reminded me, with their German, that a century ago -- listen to this -- a century ago half a million American children learned German in their elementary schools. New York, which had the second largest population of any city in the world, and Chicago had the eighth largest, and Milwaukee was, even then, the most German city in our nation. There, every third citizen here was born on the other side of the ocean.
So when you hear Jasmine Brantley and J.P. Tucker, remember that they are recapturing a sense of our being involved with other countries, which we once took for granted. A hundred years ago we knew we were a nation of immigrants. And a hundred years later, we dare not forget it. (Applause.)
The German immigrants who helped to build cities across our land, founded our nation's businesses, including some that made Milwaukee famous: Pabst and Blatz and Schlitz. (Applause.) More importantly, they made our communities successful with their strong families and their hard work. But it's important to remember that when the Germans and the other immigrants came here a hundred years ago, they faced new, enormous challenges. They arrived at a time of dramatic change, when our country was just moving from an age of agriculture to an age of industry; when more people, finally, were living in cities than were living in the rural areas; when instead of rising to the sun, they woke to a factory whistle. That was a very different time, the time that our grandparents and our great-grandparents brought to America. But it led to the enormous prosperity that the American people enjoyed in the 20th century.
I ask you to think about this time, at the dawn of another new century, just as we now know a century ago Americans thought about it. Yes, we have a lot of challenges. Yes, we have economic challenges. Yes, we have social challenges. Yes, we have challenges around the world. But this country is stronger economically. It is facing its social problems. It is trying to come together around the basic ideas of work and family and community. And this is a safer world than it was just a few years ago.
And one reason is, we have enjoyed a remarkable alliance with Germany for 50 long years, achieving unparalleled security and prosperity. And let me say that Helmut Kohl, as the first Chancellor of a free and unified Germany, is a symbol of that success. (Applause.)
With Germany and our other allies in NATO, we are working to let peace take hold in the former Yugoslavia; to give the Muslims, the Croats, and the Serbs the chance to try to come together in the way we Americans are trying to come together; to say to each other, you cannot define your life by who you hate, you must be willing to lay down your hatreds and work together for a better, brighter future. That is the future we have fought for at home. That is the future Germany and the United States are fighting for in Bosnia. (Applause.)
Thanks to the support of Germany and the United States for freedom and for free economic systems in Russia, we have taken a giant step back from the nuclear precipice. We are destroying two-thirds of all the nuclear weapons that existed at the height of the Cold War. And today, for the first time since the dawn of the Nuclear Age, there are no Russian nuclear weapons pointed at the people of the United States or American weapons pointed at the people of Russia. (Applause.)
Thanks to the efforts of the United States and Germany, as much as any other two nations in the world, we are creating a system of global trading opportunities where trade will be not only free, but fair. And I congratulate and thank the Chancellor today for signing an open skies agreement with the United States. We will be the first two great nations to have completely open freedom in the air routes between Germany and the United States. Anybody that wants to come up with a route can do so and the American people can go back and forth more cheaply. And the German people can do so, as well. So, Governor Thompson, maybe a year from now, we can have 100,000 Germans here in Milwaukee instead of just one or two.
And again I want to say to Chancellor Kohl, the people of Wisconsin deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of these changes. Exports from Wisconsin have grown 39 percent over the last three years, faster than the rest of our country -- and the greatest export surge in our history. That is creating a 110,000 jobs in Wisconsin, including 18,000 brand new ones. Unemployment in this state is only 3.7 percent. And, most important, we know that when we can tie jobs to exports they tend to pay better and to provide a better living for the families of the people who are working there.
I want to say, too, that we thank Germany for buying Wisconsin products. Wisconsin companies with names like Harnischfeger and Miller are bringing their products to Germany, the country their founders left more than a century ago. People moved here, sending the stuff back home, the marks come back to America in the form of dollars -- sounds like a pretty good deal to me. (Applause.)
We also want to thank the German investors who have invested their money here and put the people of Wisconsin to work. We thank them again for building a global economy of prosperity and freedom. And, finally, we thank Wisconsin for its willingness to experiment in many areas of our national life that need improvement, to find ways to put people from welfare to work, to lower the crime rate, to deal with the problem of growing the economy while preserving the incredible, beautiful natural environment that the people of Wisconsin enjoy. These are the challenges that all of us have to face in the years ahead.
Let me say again in closing my remarks that it is important that every American know that if you look ahead at the opportunities the world will bring us, we cannot seize those opportunities alone. If want to trade with other nations, it takes two to tango. Germany and the United States are the greatest trading nations in the world and we have to lead the fight for fair and free trade.
If we want to deal with the challenges of terrorism and drug running and weapons smuggling and the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons and global environmental threats where Helmut Kohl has been very outspoken, we cannot do this alone. If you want your children to have a system in which everybody who will work can have an opportunity and a system in which we can solve the new security problems of the 21st century, we cannot do it alone. The United States has to have friends and allies and we have no better friend and ally anywhere in the world than Helmut Kohl of Germany, my friend, and I thank him for being here today. And thank you all. God bless you. (Applause.)
CHANCELLOR KOHL: Mr. President, Dear Bill; Mr. Governor, Mr. Mayor, dear citizens of Milwaukee and dear children. First of all, I would like to thank the two children who welcomed us here for this particularly warm welcome that they have extended to us. And let me tell you, you did a great job. (Applause.) Because I can very well imagine how often they had to train for this event, and I think, well, it worked like a miracle.
So I think I should use this opportunity here to say a particular word of respect to the mother, mothers of the two children, and to the teachers, who I suppose have a lot to do with their success here today. (Applause.)
Let me thank all of you for making this possible, for us being able to be here today on this wonderful day with you. And let me thank you, Mr. Mayor, and you, Mr. Governor, for the particularly warm welcome that you extended to us. And, Bill, thank you also for welcoming us in this particularly warm and gracious way.
First of all, I think a word of thanks is at place. I would like to thank you, the people of America and the citizens of this city, for the assistance and the support that has been given to us, as Germans, throughout these decades. Without the support of the United States we would certainly not have been able to achieve what we have achieved in Germany and for Germany. And without the support and assistance of three great Presidents of the United States of America, we would not have been able to achieve German unity, nor would we have been able to cope with the problems related to this great work of unification of our country. And I would like to pay tribute here, at this point in time, to Presidents Reagan, Bush and, last but not least, President Clinton.
And I should like to thank the millions of American soldiers and their families and relatives who stood together after the Second World War to uphold peace and freedom for our country, together with the soldiers of the German army and our allies. (Applause.)
And I would like to use this opportunity to equally thank those American families who, right after the end of the Second World War and after the collapse of the barbaric regime of the National Socialists, in this hour of need and despair of our nation, helped us.
I should like to thank the American people for making it possible for us in Germany to rebuild our country from the debris and the ashes of the past. I would like to pay tribute here to President Truman and to George Marshall for coming up with the idea of the Marshall Plan and for rebuilding, therefore, our country.
And I would like to pay an equal tribute to those thousands of American families who helped German families survive those years of famine, who sent care packages and who also contributed to the Hoover Foundation's food aid, who contributed to the Quaker aid so as to enable a starving population to survive. (Applause.) And I'm saying this particularly here, in this city, in this state, because it was from here that literally a stream of packages and a whole wealth of assistance reached Germany to assist the people there. (Applause.)
And let me say as a member of my generation, as someone who has a memory of the war and the years after the war, as someone who has a memory of the war and the years after the war, as someone who was 15 years old at the end of the war, how much it meant for us in these times of despair to see, when we sort of gathered at 10:00 in the morning in the schoolyard, an American truck drive onto that schoolyard distributing food and hot soup and helping us to survive these dire straits. And, let me tell you, we have never forgotten this. (Applause.)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, generally speaking, has been for the past 200 years the most important and largest center of people of German ancestry in the United States. And I think it has always been a cradle of German-American culture. So let me take this opportunity here to extend a particular word of greeting to all of you who are of German origin, whose ancestors came from Germany, and let me tell you that your old home country is sending you the best of regard. (Applause.)
Americans of German origin, I think, being well regarded here in the United States of America and, still, at the same time, they retain fond memories of their old home and they have always maintained their bonds with their old home. At the same time, though, they have proved themselves to be Americans through and through, good Americans.
They together contributed, no matter what their origins or their professions were -- whether they were farmers, merchants, businessmen, teachers, men and women of science, soldiers or politicians -- all of them contributed to making the United States of America the great nation that it is today. (Applause.)
And I think President Clinton was right when he just said to me that he thought there was never a time in our relationship where we were so close as people, as two nations, and where our relationship was based on such mutual confidence and where we were working so closely together for our joint future. Jointly, we want to show that we have learned from the experience of the past. We want to go into this future jointly, and we would like to lend a helping hand to all of those who are in need of that.
And I think this is particularly true for the people, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and last but not least, Russia -- these nations that are struggling to throw off the shackles of Communism and go into a future where they can be free, and they need particular assistance.
At the end of the century, we are facing new problems together. Nations have grown closer to each other. That also means that economic problems in one country will inevitably have repercussions on the economic situations in neighboring countries. So that means that we have to learn to act together on a worldwide basis.
And we must learn in a very particular way at this point in time that we shall not be able to forge a happy and bright future for our country if we neglect the yearning of nations -- neighboring nations to achieve the same kind of happiness and prosperity. That means that we have to show ourselves open to the world, that we have to come closer to each other, to approach each other. And that we, all of us, become aware again of the great virtues that we share, and that particularly the American people have upheld throughout the centuries. That is, a sense for humanity and also a willingness and readiness to help others.
Let me say I'm very pleased that there are so many students here among us today, and I would like to spend this particular message to those students: It's a very important thing that one should nurture one's love for one's own home country, but at the same time, remain open to the needs of the rest of the world. And I hope that there will be many among you who will pay us a visit back in Germany, pay visits to the cities and the villages where your ancestors came from. And I trust you shall win from that experience.
We have, in the German-American friendship that we have enjoyed over these past decades, have been given a lot of very positive and very valuable things. And this was a blessing for our peoples, for our two nations. It had not only to do with matters of the mind, it had very much to do with matters of the heart.
Now let me end by addressing these two children, Jasmine and J.P. And in addressing these two children, let me at the same time address all the children of this city, of the state, indeed, of the country. Now you are, I think, now 10 years old. So that means that you will probably live to see the year 2050. And maybe you will remember that you were here on this square with us, and that the President of the United States and the Chancellor of Germany addressed you. And I hope in looking back at that point in your life that you will be able to say that these were 55 years of peace, 55 years of freedom. (Applause.)
And I do hope that you will also be in a position then to say you, who are children today and who will be adults tomorrow, that you, too, have given your share, your contribution to keeping the peace and freedom for all of us; that you can say, I have been assisting those who were in need. And if that is the case, if you can say that, then this 21st century will be a good, a very positive -- and then we will have people living and seeing the turn of the 21st century who are able to say, at last we have learned a lesson from history.
This is something that I wish for the children here in the city and the state and the United States of America, in general, for Germany -- all over the world -- and it's something that I wish for all us: God bless this world with peace. (Applause.)
END 1:30 P.M. CDT