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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 29, 1997
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         AT DINNER IN HONOR OF 

The State Floor

8:43 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin the dinner by saying a special word of welcome to all of you.

Frequently in this room, it is my privilege on behalf of the people of the United States to offer a toast to a visiting leader of another nation, or to showcase our culture to the world. Tonight it is my privilege to honor the leaders of that culture -- our artists and scholars, and those who support their work.

Our economy is measured in numbers and statistics, and we got some more good numbers today, and for that I'm very grateful. (Applause.) But, nonetheless, in our childhood, at the end of our lives, and in the most important moments in between, we know that our own enduring worth and the enduring worth of our nation lies in our shared values and our soaring spirit.

Lewis Mumford once wrote, "Love, poetry, disinterested thought, the free use of the imagination -- here are the sustaining values of a living culture." Through the work you do and the lives you lead you are sustaining our living culture, and swelling the chorus of American voices.

I have to note, sadly, as many of you must doubtless know now, that we lost one of those great voices today when Roy Liechtenstein passed away. Two years ago I had the great privilege of giving him the award that I was able to bestow on several of you today. He was especially valuable and treasured by us here in the White House because of his support for our arts and embassies program.

The point I think he would like me to make tonight is that everyone of us, each in our own time, has just a little time, whether we live a short or a long life by conventional standards. Therefore, it falls to everyone of us to make sure that there is a next generation of artists and scholars who have the opportunity to learn and to create, so that the next generation of ideas can take root and grow.

So, tonight, as we celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of the men and women we honor here, let us also rededicate ourselves to that future mission.

Now, I ask you all to join me in raising our glasses in a toast to the 1997 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal recipients. Thank you.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

END 8:45 P.M. EDT