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pd21jn99 The President's Radio Address...
I would also like to thank the reservists of the 442d for all you do. I know how badly some of you wanted to take your Warthogs over to Serbia. I assure you, you're doing a fine job protecting us, just by being ready to drop everything at a moment's notice. And I want to thank the people who make Whiteman such a fine place to live and work, including the Missouri National Guard. And lastly, I want to pay special tribute to the families who give strength and support to our airmen and women who do such a difficult job. The wives, the husbands, the children of our military personnel are a part [[Page 1087]] of our military team, and they serve our country in a very special way. The statistics of Operation Allied Force tell the story better than I can. There were 30,000 sorties. Two planes were lost, but every single crew member returned safely, an extraordinary testament to your courage and skill. Of course, we cannot forget the two Army airmen we lost while training in Albania, and I hope you will remember them and their families in your prayers, Chief Warrant Officer David Gibbs and Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Reichert. Let me say one other thing that I hope will try to illustrate what this is really about. I'm proud to be in Whiteman today for many reasons. For over half a century, the brave airmen of this base have been crucial to our efforts to build peace and support freedom. We may be far from Europe here in the heartland, and I suppose it's unlikely that Knob Noster will ever be invaded by a foreign power. [Laughter] But you have always been close to the frontlines, and the people in that small community have supported you in being close to the frontlines. The 442d Fighter Wing supported the D-Day landings 55 years ago last Sunday. The 509th Bomber Wing distinguished itself in the Pacific theater. Whiteman was a bastion of strength throughout the cold war. Ten years ago, for example, who would have thought that a former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, would come here to have you sing ``Happy Birthday'' to him? [Laughter] Or that he would have the gall to accuse General Barnidge of singing off-key. [Laughter] In this decade, in the wake of the cold war, our men and women in uniform have played a crucial role, and so have you. And with the B-2, you have been even closer to the frontlines. From Iraq to Haiti to Bosnia to Kosovo, our men and women in uniform have shown dictators they can't shatter their people and threaten their neighbors with impunity. But this is the point I want you to think about. You helped to put the lie to Mr. Milosevic's campaign of ethnic cleansing and killing in two ways, not one. First, and most obviously, you did it with the power of the bombing campaign. But second, you did it with the power of your example. What do I mean by that? His whole justification for power has been to tell the Serbian people that they cannot and should not have to live with the Bosnian Muslims, with the Kosovar Albanian Muslims, with the Croatian Catholics, that the only pure and great people, worthy to be part of Greater Serbia, are those who share their ethnic background and their faith, that their country can only be great when everybody's just like everybody else. Well, look around here. You put the lie to that by the power of your example. And make no mistake about it, it is even more powerful than the power of our bombs. I invite the people of this world today who say that people cannot get along across racial and ethnic and religious lines to have a good look at the United States military, to have a good look at the members of the United States Air Force in this hangar today. We have proved that when people are bound together by shared values, their differences make them stronger and make our community stronger, that everyone has a contribution to make and everyone is a child of God, worthy to be developed to the fullest of his or her own capacity, and that our differences make our lives more interesting, even more fun, as long as we recognize that, fundamentally, what is most important is our common humanity. Make no mistake about it: every day you get up and go to work, every day you work through a difference you're having with somebody who comes from a different part of the country or a different background than you do, every day you learn to live by performing your mission better, working together, you put the lie to the idea that has driven Mr. Milosevic's power and that of every other dictator in this century who tried to get people to hate others because they had a different color skin, because they had a different ethnic background, because they worshiped God in a different way. And make no mistake about it--in a world that is smaller and smaller and smaller, where we are growing closer through the Internet, through links of trade, through shared culture, where people will become more vulnerable to one another through open borders, it is a very important thing for [[Page 1088]] the safety and security of the United States for us to be able to hold up for the whole world the example of our men and women in uniform and say: This is the future we should all seek in the 21st century. Yes, I am very proud of the B-2's. I am proud of the cooperation across the services. I know the Air Force is grateful for the radar jamming provided by Navy and Marine aircraft, the Navy TLAMS fired from ships in the Mediterranean that made the flights safer, the Army and Marine units taking care of the refugees. I'm grateful for all of that cooperation, but fundamentally, I am most grateful for the power of your example. In our military, we have Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latino- Americans, European-Americans of every stripe, including Albanian- Americans and Serbian-Americans. I don't want anybody to get the idea that we have a grudge or bad feelings about the people of Serbia. They were our allies in World War II. They fill many neighborhoods in some of our largest cities. We cheer for them on professional sports teams. Many of us know them as our friends. This is not about a people; this is about a rotten idea that needs to be wiped from the pages of history. That, you have helped to do. And I say to you, we have to keep working on it. If we want to be a force for good around the world, we've got to keep working to be good at home. We've got to keep working to live up to the ideas of our Founders, that we are all created equal, that we have a constant obligation throughout our lives to broaden the circle of opportunity and deepen the meaning of freedom and draw closer together as a national community. These past months were a defining moment for the forces of freedom in our Alliance. This was the longest and most difficult military campaign NATO ever engaged in, in its entire 50 years. Mr. Milosevic, who believed that strength comes from everything being the same, thought that his campaign for Greater Serbia would break the unity of the incredible diversity of the NATO Alliance. He thought open societies with free dissent--where, as you know, everybody in America was free to tell me I was wrong about this from the get-go--he thought that made us weak. But he turned out to be wrong. He turned out to be wrong, yes, because the B-2 is a great aircraft and the people flying the fighters out of Germany and Italy did a brilliant job, and the ships firing the TLAMS were great and because the leaders were strong and tough and they hung together. That's fine, and that had a lot to do with it. But what made all that possible? How did we get to that moment in the first place? Because we had made a decision as a free people to respect the inherent dignity of every person, to give everybody a chance, to learn from people who are different, to be on the same team. Let me tell you, that is something money can't buy and propaganda can't erase, and it is an example that I hope the world will see all the more clearly in the aftermath of your success in Kosovo. Think what would have happened if we hadn't done this. Mr. Milosevic's victory would have been a license for despots around the world to deal with ethnic minorities simply by murdering or expelling them from their land. Whenever people have trouble with people who were different, they say, ``Well, just get rid of them. Kill as many as you want. Nobody will do anything, and if you run them out of your country, the rich countries will take care of them, anyway. Just ethnically cleanse everyplace so you will never have to think about or look at or consider the interest of anybody that's the slightest bit different from you.'' But instead, we end the 20th century and begin a new one with a respect for human rights and human dignity and international law. This is not America's first victory over tyranny, and unfortunately, it probably will not be our last. But it is a moment for all of you to thank God for the opportunity we have had to live in our country and serve our country at this moment in history, to reap the benefits of its opportunities, and to have a chance to move it a little closer to its ideals. As we celebrate the victory, I also ask you to remember this: There are challenges ahead. We still have to win the peace. Those folks have to go home, and they've got to have a roof over their head before it gets too cold to be outside. We've got landmines to take up and businesses to rebuild and a future to make. [[Page 1089]] That work, too, can be dangerous for those who follow in your footsteps in the peacekeeping missions. But it is very much in our interest to help them rebuild, and to draw together--to teach them what we already know--that if they have something to look forward to and something to work for and something to get up in the morning and smile about, it's a lot easier for people with superficial differences to find common interests. And so we have to be a part of that, as well. Whenever I come to Missouri, a State I've always loved, since I grew up to the south, in Arkansas, I think of President Truman, who was the President when I was born and whom my family idolized. Congressman Skelton knew Harry Truman, and I think that we would all admit that Harry Truman knew something about standing up for what he believed in. President Truman would be very, very proud of the Whiteman family today. In the final days of World War II, Harry Truman said, ``It is easier to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than it is to kill the ideas which gave them birth and strength. Victory on the battlefield was essential, but it was not enough. For a good peace, a lasting peace, decent people of the Earth must remain determined to strike down the evil spirit which has hung over the world for the last decade.'' Well, the decent people of the world are determined to rebuild Kosovo and the Balkans. Think about the spirit. If you don't remember anything else I said today, remember this. Your victory was achieved for two reasons: one, the power and skill and courage of our pilots and our crews and the awesome capacity of our planes and our bombs; but two, the power of the example that you set in our military, a stern rebuke, on a daily basis, to ethnic cleansing and a reaffirmation of the moral worth and the sheer joy of working together as equal human beings for a good cause. Thank you, and God bless you. Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. in Building 1117. In his remarks, he referred to Gen. Lester Lyles, USAF, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; Brig. Gen. Leroy Barnidge, Jr., USAF, Wing Commander, 509th Bomb Wing; and President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). This item was not received in time for publication in the appropriate issue. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 1089-1090] Monday, June 21, 1999 Volume 35--Number 24 Pages 1085-1139 Week Ending Friday, June 18, 1999 Proclamation 7203--Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, 1999 June 11, 1999 By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation Thirty years ago this month, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a courageous group of citizens resisted harassment and mistreatment, setting in motion a chain of events that would become known as the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement. Gays and lesbians, their families and friends, celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month; and, earlier this month, the National Park Service added the Stonewall Inn, as well as the nearby park and neighborhood streets surrounding it, to the National Register of Historic Places. I am proud of the measures my Administration has taken to end discrimination against gays and lesbians and ensure that they have the same rights guaranteed to their fellow Americans. Last year, I signed an Executive order that amends Federal equal employment opportunity policy to prohibit discrimination in the Federal civilian work force based on sexual orientation. We have also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the granting of security clearances. As a result of these and other policies, gay and lesbian Americans serve openly and proudly throughout the Federal Government. My Administration is also working with congressional leaders to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit most private employers from firing workers solely because of their sexual orientation. America's diversity is our greatest strength. But, while we have come a long way on our journey toward tolerance, understanding, and mutual respect, we still have a long way to go in our efforts to end discrimination. During the past year, people across our country have been shaken by violent acts that [[Page 1090]] struck at the heart of what it means to be an American and at the values that have always defined us as a Nation. In 1997, the most recent year for which we have statistics, there were more than 8,000 reported hate crimes in our country--almost one an hour. Now is the time for us to take strong and decisive action to end all hate crimes, and I reaffirm my pledge to work with the Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But we cannot achieve true tolerance merely through legislation; we must change hearts and minds as well. Our greatest hope for a just society is to teach our children to respect one another, to appreciate our differences, and to recognize the fundamental values that we hold in common. As part of our efforts to achieve this goal, earlier this spring, I announced that the Departments of Justice and Education will work in partnership with educational and other private sector organizations to reach out to students and teach them that our diversity is a gift. In addition, the Department of Education has issued landmark guidance that explains Federal standards against sexual harassment and prohibits sexual harassment of all students regardless of their sexual orientation; and I have ordered the Education Department's civil rights office to step up its enforcement of anti-discrimination and harassment rules. That effort has resulted in a groundbreaking guide that provides practical guidance to school administrators and teachers for developing a comprehensive approach to protecting all students, including gays and lesbians, from harassment and violence. Since our earliest days as a Nation, Americans have strived to make real the ideals of equality and freedom so eloquently expressed in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We now have a rare opportunity to enter a new century and a new millennium as one country, living those principles, recognizing our common values, and building on our shared strengths. Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do thereby proclaim June 1999 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third. William J. Clinton [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., June 15, 1999] Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on June 16. This item was not received in time for publication in the appropriate issue. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]
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