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    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>
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