THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 8, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE OMAHA COMMUNITY
Offutt Air Force Base
2:10 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. One of my critics
once said it would be a cold day when I came to Nebraska. (Laughter.) But
I think I got a pretty warm welcome here today and I thank you very, very
I want to thank all of those who welcomed me, but especially, thank
you, Brigadier General Power; thank you, Admiral Mies. I thank the
officers and enlisted personnel here.
I want to thank Senator Bob Kerrey for being, first, my colleague --
we were governors together -- and we have been friends for a long time and
he has superbly served the people of Nebraska and the United States in the
Senate. I know you'll miss him and I thank him. (Applause.)
I also want to congratulate his successor, with whom I also served as
governor. Thank you very much for running and serving, Senator-elect Ben
Nelson and Mrs. Nelson; thank you very much. (Applause.)
I brought with me today former Nebraska Congressman Peter Hoagland,
and I thank him -- (applause) -- Secretary of State Moore; Mayor Daub;
Acting Mayor Sorensen of Bellevue and the other elected officials who are
You know, earlier today I went to Kearney, to speak at the University
of Nebraska there, to the young people about an American foreign policy for
the 21st century. And I made a pretty simple argument -- that the world is
getting smaller and smaller, that people and goods and ideas and
information are crossing national borders more freely and faster than ever
before; and that, therefore, it was quite necessary, even here in the
heartland of America, that every citizen of our country care about what
goes on beyond our borders and support the next President and the next
Congress across party lines in making the kinds of decisions that will make
America safer and more prosperous and a better partner in an interdependent
Now, one of the things that I wanted to do in coming here is to say
that none of that would be possible if our foreign policy was not backed by
the finest military in the entire world. (Applause.)
I was told a couple of weeks ago, you know, since I'm a short-termer,
as you might say -- (laughter) -- all the statisticians are coming up to me
and saying, well, did you know this, did you know that, did you know the
other thing? And I was told a couple of weeks ago by one of the people who
is supposed to look at all the White House records that I have now visited
more military units than any President in the history of the country.
Having said that, I do not believe my service in that regard would
have been complete if I hadn't come to Offutt Air Force Base -- (applause)
-- to see the people of the Fighting 55th and the Strategic Command. Many
of those serving in the 55th couldn't be with us today. You heard the
General say the sun never sets on the 55th; they are now serving on this
day from Okinawa to Mildenhall to Saudi Arabia, keeping a watchful eye so
the rest of us can be secure.
For decades now, for a full decade in the Persian Gulf, the 55th has
helped check the ambitions of Saddam Hussein and guard peace in the region.
In Bosnia, in Kosovo, you risk your lives to help stop genocide. The days
of winter may be short here, but it is really true that the sun never sets
on you and your work.
I also want to honor the men and women of the Strategic Command. For
every minute of every day during the past 50 years, you and your
predecessors at the Strategic Air Command have never let down our guard.
The Cold War may be over, but we still need you. You are the cornerstone
of our deterrence and our security.
I also want to recognize the other units who serve here: The Defense
Finance and Accounting Service, out of Omaha. (Applause.) The U.S. Air
Force Heartland of America Band. (Applause.) The 311th Airlift Flight,
the 343rd Air Force Recruiting Squadron, and the U.S. Air Force Weather
Agency. (Applause.) Would someone please ask them to turn up the heat a
little bit? (Laughter.)
Let me just say one other thing. These last eight years have been a
great honor for me. And it has been a joy to serve. But the one thing
that I will leave office feeling more strongly than I did even on the day I
took the Oath of Office, almost eight years ago, is that the true greatness
of America resides not in its leaders, but in its citizens. And, yes, it's
important who wins; and, yes, it's important that we all believe that the
system is truly democratic and fair. But our system is premised on the
hard work, the innovation, the values and the devotion to freedom of our
citizens. And especially, of course, those who serve us in uniform.
America is a different and better place than it was eight years ago.
(Applause.) We've had all kinds of economic progress, but a lot of social
progress, as well. And I would just like to say to you that as you look
ahead in this new century, we will become more and more interdependent on
each other and on people beyond our borders. It will become more and more
important, therefore, that every person has a chance, that every person
carries his or her own load, and that we always remember we do better when
we work together.
We have a great future out there. But we've got some challenges. If
you look at where we are now compared to where we were eight years ago,
we're here because, as a people, we worked hard, we worked more closely
together, we thought about the future and we decided to pay the price for
that future. That's why we're still around here after over 224 years.
So you stay with it. Stay with it here at Offutt, stay with it here
in Nebraska. Keep looking toward tomorrow. And remember that I may have
been late, but I sure was glad when I got here.
Thank you, and God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 2:15 P.M. CST