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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 10, 1997
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                           DURING TOAST AT THE
                            State Dining Room

8:30 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House. Hillary and I are delighted to have all of you here tonight. This afternoon we had the honor to award 16 men and women and the Harlem Boys Choir our country's highest recognition for achievement in the arts and humanities.

Tonight we come together to salute the honorees again for their profound contributions to our cultural life. At a time when so many forces seem determined to divide us -- not simply here, but all around the world -- the arts and humanities unite us as a people in all of our rich diversity. They give voice to our collective experience and deepen our understandings of ourselves and one another.

At the dawn of a new century in a rapidly changing world, we need our artists, our writers, our thinkers, more than ever to help us find that common thread that is woven through all of our lives, to help give our children the imagination they need to visualize the future they must make and to reach across the lines that divide us.

The people we have honored today have dedicated their lives to this purpose, and I join all Americans in thanking them for their life's work.

I ask all of you now to please join me in a toast to our honorees, and to the United States of America. Hear, hear.

(A toast is offered).

Thank you very much.

END 8:32 P.M. EST