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approaches. The Action Plan was coupled with a challenge to the Congress 
to reauthorize and strengthen the Clean Water Act, but the Congress has 
yet to act on this challenge.
    As we begin the beach-going season, when families are reminded again 
about the importance of clean water to their recreation, their well-
being, and the economy, we remain anxious to work with the Congress on 
strengthening the Clean Water Act. We must not wait for the Congress, 
however, before using our available resources and authority to further 
accelerate the effort to protect America's waters and the health and 
safety of the American public.
    Accordingly, I direct you to take the following additional steps, 
consistent with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Water Action Plan, to 
protect public health and clean water.
    First, I direct the Park Service and other units of the Department 
of the Interior to strengthen water-quality protections at all beaches 
managed by the Department. Improved monitoring should be used wherever 
necessary to enhance the public's right to know that beaches are safe 
for their families and to assist the Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA), States, and Tribes to identify and stop the causes of beach 
    Second, I direct the EPA to work with the States to expedite the 
pace at which they will strengthen their beach and recreational water 
quality standards, so that the public will be able to enjoy the same 
strong level of protection at all the Nation's beaches no later than 
2003. In accordance with the EPA's Beach Action Plan, the EPA should 
promulgate standards in cases where a State does not amend its water 
quality standards to include the EPA-recommended criteria in a timely 
    Third, I direct the EPA to improve protection of public health at 
our Nation's beaches by developing, within 1 year, a strong national 
regulation to prevent the over 40,000 annual sanitary sewer overflows 
from contaminating our Nation's beaches and jeopardizing the health of 
our Nation's families.

[[Page 1005]]

At a minimum, the program must raise the standard for sewage treatment 
to adequately protect public health and provide full information to 
communities about these water quality problems and associated health 
    Fourth, I direct the Department of the Interior and the Department 
of Agriculture to enhance management of Federal lands to increase 
protection of waters on or near Federal lands, and to identify waters on 
or near Federal lands that require special protection. Specifically, a 
proposal for a unified Federal policy on watershed management, developed 
under the Clean Water Action Plan, should be circulated first for 
consultation with States and Indian Tribes, and then published in the 
Federal Register for public comment no later than July 15, 1999.
    Each of these measures should be implemented through a process that 
provides appropriate opportunities for participation and comment by 
States, Tribes, and the affected public.
    This memorandum is not intended to create any right, benefit, or 
trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or 
equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or 
instrumentalities, or any other person.
                                            William J. Clinton

Note: This memorandum was made available by the Office of the Press 
Secretary on May 29 but was embargoed for release until 10:06 a.m.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1005-1008]
Monday, June 7, 1999
Volume 35--Number 22
Pages 1003-1048
Week Ending Friday, June 4, 1999
Remarks at a Memorial Day Ceremony in Arlington, Virginia

May 31, 1999

    Thank you very much, Secretary Cohen, for your remarks, your 
devotion to your country, and your outstanding leadership. Secretary 
West, thank you for your work on behalf of our Nation's veterans. And to 
both of you, thank you for your support of the recent actions in 
Congress to raise the pay of our military personnel and to improve their 
quality of life, to improve the retirement systems of the veterans and 
their readiness.
    General Ivany, thank you for your remarks, your example, and your 
leadership. Colonel Brogan, thank you for your prayers. Superintendent 
Metzler, thank you for doing such a magnificent job of maintaining 
Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of those who are buried here and 
as a tribute to all America stands for. I thank the members of the 
Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs, Congress, the diplomatic corps, the armed 
services who are here. I welcome the veterans and the families of 
veterans and members of the armed services, my fellow citizens.

    I'd like to begin by asking that we all join in expressing our 
thanks to the Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants for doing such a 
fine job here today--[applause]--they deserve it. Thank you.

    Even though the day is bright and warm I ask you to indulge me, to 
spend a few extra moments to think about what it means that we here 
today mark the final Memorial Day of this century. To be sure, it has 
been a century that saw too many white stones added to these gentle 
hills, marking America's sacrifices for freedom for over 100 years, in 
two World Wars and many other conflicts. Again and again, America has 
been tested in the 20th century, coming through it all, down to the 
present day, with even greater blessings of liberty and prosperity, with 
our enduring optimism and steady faith in our common humanity.

    Thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, our Nation has never 
been more secure. Thanks to them, the cold war is now another chapter in 
the history books. Thanks to them, nations that fought two World Wars in 
Europe and in Asia, some of which had battled each other for centuries, 
now cooperate with each other as never before.

    On the eve of a new millennium we can see clearly how closely the 
sacrifices of our men and women in uniform in the 20th century are 
linked to the yearning for freedom that gave birth to our Nation over 
200 years ago, a yearning based on the then radical premise that we are 
all inherently equal, fully able to govern ourselves and endowed with a 
God-given right to liberty. That is our history, a history that beckons 
us especially on this Memorial Day and especially here at Arlington, the 
most powerful evidence we now

[[Page 1006]]

have that our country has accepted consistently the old adage that much 
is expected from those to whom much is given. From Concord to 
Corregidor, from Korea to Khe Sanh, from Kuwait to Kosovo, our entire 
history is written in this ground.
    As Secretary Cohen said, only 11 days ago a young man from Ohio, 
Chief Warrant Officer David Gibbs, was laid to rest here after his 
helicopter crashed in a training exercise on May 5th in Albania. Chief 
Warrant Officer Kevin Reichert died in the same crash. We honor these 
two brave Americans who gave their lives in service to our Nation's 
highest ideals, joining other, more famous names who did the same. Here 
lie heroes of war, like John Pershing, George Marshall, Omar Bradley, 
President Kennedy; the great explorer Robert Peary; brave astronauts who 
gave their lives to increase our knowledge of the heavens; Medgar Evers, 
who fought for freedom at Normandy on D-day and then fought for freedom 
all over again at the University of Mississippi; familiar names, like 
Joe Louis, Justice Earl Warren, Abner 
Doubleday, Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy: all different, all 
American, all made our presence possible.
    We are the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, but we must 
never forget in the context of human history just how quickly we have 
come to where we are today. Secretary Cohen quoted another famous 
American veteran who is buried here, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He 
fought in the Civil War and went on to serve on the United States 
Supreme Court until he was 93 years old. A young man caught him at the 
age of 90 reading a copy of Plato's ``Republic'' and asked whatever in 
the world he was doing, reading that weighty tome. And he said, ``I am 
doing this to improve my mind.''
    A remarkable man, Justice Holmes. His life shows us how quickly we 
have come here. When he was a boy, he shook hands with a veteran of the 
American Revolution. As a young man he fought in the Civil War, where he 
was visited by President Lincoln. You may know the famous story that the 
President was wearing his trademark stovepipe hat, and he began, because 
he was so tall, to attract fire from the Confederate forces, until 
Holmes shouted, without thinking, these famous words, ``Get down, you 
fool.'' [Laughter] Lincoln replied, ``I'm glad you know how to talk to a 
civilian.'' [Laughter]
    Justice Holmes lived through World War I and the Depression. He 
watched the United States assume the mantle of leadership. And he always 
remembered what he had done as a young man--that war reminds us, and I 
quote, that ``our comfortable routine is no eternal necessity of 
things.'' He understood that our freedom had been and always would be 
bought by men and women ready to protect it, sometimes at great cost and 
    So we did not become a great nation just because the land was 
generous to those who settled it, though it was; just because the people 
who came here worked hard and were clever and resourceful, though surely 
our forebears were. We became a great nation also because every time our 
beliefs and ideals have been threatened, Americans have stepped forward 
to defend them. From our biggest cities to our smallest towns, citizens 
have done what had to be done to advance the dream that began on the 
Fourth of July in 1776--always following Justice Holmes' famous 
admonition that we must be involved in the action and passion of our 
time, for fear of being judged not to have lived.
    So my fellow Americans, if today is a day for history, it is also a 
day to honor those who lie here and in countless other places all across 
the world in marked and unmarked graves, to honor them by looking to the 
future; to rededicate ourselves to another 100 years of our liberty, our 
prosperity, our optimism, and our common humanity.
    Today, there is a new challenge before us in Kosovo. It is a very 
small province in a small country, but it is a big test of what we 
believe in: our commitment to leave to our children a world where people 
are not uprooted and ravaged and slaughtered en masse because of their 
race, their ethnicity, or their religion; our fundamental interest in 
building a lasting peace in an undivided and free Europe, a place which 
saw two World Wars when that dream failed in the 20th century; and our 
interest in preserving our alliance for freedom and peace with our 18 
NATO Allies.

[[Page 1007]]

    All of us have seen the hundreds of thousands of innocent men and 
women and children driven from their homes, the thousands singled out 
for death along the way. We have heard their stories of rape and 
oppression, of robbery and looting and brutality. And we saw it all 
before, just a few years ago, in Bosnia, for 4 long years, until NATO 
acted, combining with the resistance of Bosnians and Croatians, to bring 
the Dayton peace agreement and to turn the tide of ethnic cleansing 
    How did this all happen? Well, 10 years ago the Berlin Wall fell, 
ending communism's cruel and arbitrary division of Europe, unleashing 
the energies of freedom-loving people there, after two World Wars and 
the cold war, to be united in peace and freedom and prosperity. But that 
same year in Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic became the last holdout against 
a Europe free, united, and at peace, when he stripped away the rights of 
the Kosovars to govern themselves. He then went to war against the 
Croatians and the Bosnians. And in the wake of that, after 4 years, a 
quarter of a million people were dead, 2\1/2\ million people were 
refugees, many of them still have not gone home. There was a stunning 
record of destruction, told not only in lives but in religious, 
cultural, historical, and personal buildings and records destroyed in an 
attempt to erase the existence of a people on their land.
    In Kosovo we see some parallels to World War II, for the Government 
of Serbia, like that of Nazi Germany, rose to power in part by getting 
people to look down on people of a given race and ethnicity, and to 
believe they had no place in their country, and even no right to live. 
But even more troubling, we see some parallels to the rumblings all 
around the world where people continue to fall out with one another and 
think they simply cannot share common ground and a common future with 
people who worship God in a different way or have a slightly different 
    Think about the contrast of that to the military we celebrate today. 
Every morning on Memorial Day, I have a breakfast for leaders of the 
veterans community at the White House. And I stand there with eager 
anticipation as people who have fought or whose relatives have fought 
and often died in our wars come through the line. I noticed them today: 
There were Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans; there were Arab-
Americans and Jewish Americans; there were Catholic Americans and 
Protestant Americans; there were African-Americans, there were Hispanic-
Americans, there were Asian-Americans.
    Just look around here today at the kinds of people who are wearing 
the evidence of their service to our country. We are a stronger country 
because we respect our differences, and we are united by our common 
humanity. Now, we cannot expect everybody to follow our lead, and we 
haven't gotten it entirely right, now. We don't expect everybody to get 
along all the time. But we can say no to ethnic cleansing. We can say no 
to mass slaughter of people because of the way they worship God and 
because of who their parents were. We can say no to that, and we should.
    It is important that you know that in Kosovo the world has said no. 
It's not just the United States or even just our 18 NATO Allies with us. 
People on every continent--Arabs and Israelis are sending assistance, 
Protestants and Catholics from Northern Ireland; Greeks and Turks; 
Africans, Asians, Latin Americans; even those whose own lives have been 
battered by hurricanes and other natural disasters and who have hardly 
anything to give are sending help, because their hearts have been broken 
and their consciences moved by the appalling abuses they have seen.
    Our objectives in Kosovo are clear and consistent with both the 
moral imperative of reversing ethnic cleansing and killing, and our 
overwhelming national interest in a peaceful, undivided Europe which 
will ensure we will not have to send large numbers of young Americans to 
die there in the next century in a war. The objectives are that the 
Kosovars will go home; the Serb forces will withdraw; an international 
force, with NATO at its core, will deploy to protect all the people, 
including the Serb minority, in Kosovo. And afterward, to avoid future 
Bosnias and future Kosovos, we will learn the lesson of the Marshall 
plan and what we did for Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall fell, by

[[Page 1008]]

working with our European Allies to build democracy and prosperity and 
cooperation in southeastern Europe so that there will be stronger forces 
pulling people together than those that are driving them apart.
    I know that many Americans believe that this is not our fight. But 
remember why many of the people are laying in these graves out here--
because of what happened in Europe and because of what was allowed to go 
on too long before people intervened. What we are doing today will save 
lives, including American lives, in the future. And it will give our 
children a better, safer world to live in.
    In this military campaign the United States has borne a large share 
of the burden, as we must, because we have a greater capacity to bear 
that burden. But all Americans should know that we have been strongly 
supported by our European Allies, that when the peacekeeping force goes 
in there, the overwhelming majority of people will be European, and that 
when the reconstruction begins, the overwhelming amount of investment 
will be European. This is something we have done together.
    And I ask you, in the days and nights ahead, to remember our brave 
pilots and crews flying over Serbia, to keep their families in our 
thoughts. I visited with them recently. I know that they risk their 
lives every day, and they even avoid firing back sometimes at people who 
fire at them because they fire from heavily populated areas, and they 
want to avoid killing innocent civilians.
    I ask you to support all possible efforts to relieve the suffering 
of the people of Kosovo. Even those who escape will be struggling with 
what happened to them for a long, long time. And this afternoon, I ask 
all Americans to join with those who have urged us to engage in a moment 
of remembrance at 
3 o'clock eastern daylight time, in honor of those who have given their 
lives for our country.
    I also ask all Americans to honor, along with those who have given 
their lives for our freedom, the living symbol of American valor, our 
veterans and their families, the present members of armed services and 
their families, wherever and however they serve.
    How fitting it is that we are standing against ethnic cleansing with 
our wonderful, myriad, rainbow, multiethnic military in our increasingly 
diverse society that involves both the strength of our differences and 

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