Remarks of the President at Medal of Freedom Awards Ceremony (8/9/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                   August 9, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                                      The East Room

3:42 P.M. EDT

          THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, welcome to the White
House.  I want to join Hillary in welcoming all those who have been
acknowledged, and all the other family and friends of our honorees today.
And I want to thank her for many things, but especially for the
conversations that we had leading up to this day about people who should be
selected and the reasons there.  Some of them reflect, now that we've been
here eight years and been involved in public life for nearly three decades,
a lot of personal experiences that we have had.  And we had a lot of good
times talking about who should be here today and why.

          More than 60 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt said,
"Freedom cannot be bestowed, it must be achieved."  From the founding of
our nation, it has been the duty of each generation to achieve freedom all
over again; to expand it, to deepen its meaning; to widen the circle of
those who are included as full citizens.

          Today we honor 15 men and women who have done exactly that.  They
have helped America to achieve freedom.  It is my honor, on behalf of a
proud nation, to award each of them the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our
highest civilian honor.  In the words of our Constitution, they have helped
us to secure the blessings of liberty by acts of bravery, conscience and
creativity.  I am grateful for those who are here, and for those who are
being honored who are not here today.

          When Jim Burke was just starting out in business, his boss called
him into the office and told him to shut the door.  He had just made a
mistake and he was convinced he was about to be fired.  Instead, his boss
congratulated him, saying his mistake meant he was making decisions and
taking risks.  Over the years, his willingness to make the tough call in
times of crisis and to put the public interest above all else has placed a
higher premium on candor and corporate citizenship in the business world.

          In an age when many look only to the bottom line, he draws his
values from a deeper well.  Jim took a risk when he became chairman of the
Partnership For A Drug-Free America.  Most people think that's a problem
you can talk about, but not much you can do about.  There are clearly few
challenges tougher and few more vital than teaching our young people about
the dangers of drugs, helping more to avoid them, helping more to overcome
addiction once they have become involved.

          Like every other challenge in his life, he met it head on.  Among
other things, he's raised billions of dollars in private resources to help
do the job.  He has worked closely with administrations, both Democratic
and Republican; with the Office of National Drug Control and Prevention.

          Last year, the teen drug use rate fell substantially, thanks in
no small measure to years and years and years of passionate devotion by Jim
Burke.  Thanks to him, our families are healthier, our communities are
safer, our nation is stronger.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  In the fall of 1951, in the mountains of North
Korea, a young Marine made himself a promise:  whatever he faced in battle,
he would strive to act just as his commander would act.  His commander's
name -- John Chafee.

          Captain Chafee set the standard for bravery, decency and
integrity not only in war, but later in a long and distinguished career,
first as governor of Rhode Island; later, Secretary of the Navy; then in
1976, by election of the people of Rhode Island, a United States senator,
where he would serve with distinction until his death nine months ago.  All
of us who love public service and believe in America still miss him very

          Senator Chafee took on the tough issues, from health care to
child care to, most of all, the environment -- even when it meant that he
had to take on people in his own party.  He proved that politics can be an
honorable profession.  He embodied the decent and vital center that puts
progress in the public interest above partisanship.

          Today, we offer this tribute to the man most people called
Senator, but whose riflemen still proudly called Captain.  His wonderful
wife, Ginny, and his whole family are here on his behalf.  We welcome them

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  In March of 1999, as Slobodan Milosevic unleashed
his army and police on the people of Kosovo, General Wesley Clark, NATO's
Supreme Commander, was given the first military mission of its kind --
directing the forces of a 19-nation alliance to end a brutal campaign of
ethnic cleansing.

          The stakes were monumental.  Almost a million people had been
driven from their homes solely because of their ethnic and religious
backgrounds.  Success would save lives, strengthen NATO, advance the cause
of freedom, democracy and unity in Europe.  Failure would leave much of the
continent awash in a sea of refugees, and end the 20th century on a note of
helpless indignation in the face of evil.

          Wes Clark well understood the perils of the Balkans, for he had
already played a vital role in ending the war in Bosnia and beginning the
long process of building a stable, multiethnic democracy in that country.
He summoned every ounce of his experience and expertise as a strategist, a
soldier and a statesman to wage our campaign in Kosovo.  He prevailed,
miraculously, without the loss of a single combat casualty.

          At the apex of a long and distinguished military career that goes
back to his outstanding performance as a cadet at West Point over 30 years
ago, he was assigned a challenge many experts thought was "mission
impossible."  Instead, thanks to General Clark, we now can declare it
"mission accomplished."

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  As a young officer, Bill Crowe seemed to seize
every opportunity for a non-traditional Navy career.  He took a leave to
earn a master's in education.  He passed up an invitation to join the
nuclear submarine program so he could earn a Ph.D. in politics at
Princeton.  A few years later, when Dr. Crowe found himself named Rear
Admiral Crowe, he was quite surprised.  Only later did he learn that
Admiral Zumwalt that year had ordered all naval promotion boards to
consider -- and I quote -- "iconoclasts."

          Bill Crowe has always been an innovative and independent thinker.
He was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs with a mandate to promote
greater cooperation among the Armed Forces, along with the power to reshape
their respective roles and missions.  He used that power to build a
military more agile and efficient for the global age.

          From that chairmanship to his ambassadorship at the Court of St.
James in our administration, Bill Crowe has been the right leader for
changing times.  Even more, he has, himself, helped to change the times, to
enhance our strength, advance the peace, and quicken the march of freedom.
He is an iconoclast, but an immensely patriotic one.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  Her namesake is Marian Anderson, one of the
greatest American singers of all time.  The power and range of this
Marian's voice is even greater.  It brought Robert Kennedy to Mississippi,
helped to organize the Poor People's Campaign, inspired Hillary and
thousands of other citizens, young and old, to join her through the years
in the crusade that has become known as the Children's Defense Fund, the
base from which she has changed the future for millions of America's
children, by grassroots actions and successful lobbying in Congress, for
health care, child care, education and so much more.

          Marian Wright Edelman has lived a life of giving.  In the
process, she has built a family of distinguished citizen givers.  She is a
tireless advocate, a driving force, a crusader of conscience.  Like her
namesake, Marian's voice is always strong and true, singing that we are all
children of God and, therefore, must protect all our children.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  The first thing you notice about John Kenneth
Galbraith is neither his wit, nor his intellect -- those are the second and
third things.  First, you notice his height -- (laughter) -- which, like
his passion for public service, is a legacy of his father.  The elder
Galbraith once told him, "We are obliged because of our enormous size to
alter the world to our specifications."  (Laughter.)

          That is just what Professor Galbraith has spent a lifetime doing.
From the lecture halls of Harvard to wartime Washington to a diplomatic
post in India, he has altered our world, making it better, nobler, more

          It is ironic that John Kenneth Galbraith actually coined the term
"conventional wisdom," since he spent his entire life challenging it.
(Laughter.)  He once said he always suspected President Kennedy sent him to
India just to be free of his political advice and policy ideas.
(Laughter.)  Actually, President Kennedy drew a lot from those ideas, as
have generations of American leaders and thinkers ever since.

          Professor Galbraith writes with such eloquence and clarity that
his ideas are accessible to all of us, helping us not just to understand
the economy, but also to remember that it is the providence of more than a
privileged few.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  Monsignor George Higgins believes in the dignity
of work, and he's not shy about fighting for it.  For more than 60 years
now, he has organized, marched, prayed and bled for the social and economic
justice of working Americans.

          He spoke a fundamental truth when he said, work is an important
way in which we exercise our humanity.  In return, society offers us not
only our daily bread, but a sense that we, ourselves, are honored for the
contributions we make.

          Today we honor Monsignor Higgins for his work, for defending the
right of working Americans to organize in factories, foundries and fields,
and to better their own lives through collective action.  His faith and his
courage has strengthened not only our nation's labor unions, but our
American union.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:                 You are now about to witness one
of the best things about this ceremony -- for a change, I don't have to
follow Jesse Jackson.  (Laughter.)  But the truth is, America has followed
Reverend Jackson, as he marched with Dr. King, walked the picket lines, ran
for our nation's highest office, instilling hope and inspiring millions,
beginning with his own remarkable family.

          From the streets of Watts to the hollows of Appalachia, as my
Special Envoy to Africa, and the leader of Rainbow PUSH, he has walked the
walk of freedom.  When I think of Rainbow PUSH, I think of two things --
rainbow means we've all got a place at the table; push is what Jesse does
when he thinks I'm not doing right.  (Laughter.)

          He has used his legendary prowess at persuading people to do
things they are otherwise disinclined to do to free innocents imprisoned
around the world, including American servicemen from the Middle East to the
Balkans.  With his Wall Street Project, he is forging the next frontier of
freedom -- economic freedom -- reminding us that when we limit
opportunities for some Americans, we limit possibilities for all Americans.

          His work for years has been an inspiration to the New Markets
Initiative that I have undertaken, along with the Republican and Democratic
leaders of the House and Senate, and when it becomes law it will be in no
small measure the result of the powerful example that he has set year after

          Dr. King said, human progress never rolls on the wheels of
inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts of those willing to be
coworkers with God.  The cause of justice has no greater coworker than
Jesse Jackson.  It's hard to imagine how we could have come as far as we
have without the creative power, the keen intellect, the loving heart, and
the relentless passion of Jesse Louis Jackson.  And God isn't done with him

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  As a Catholic schoolgirl, Millie Jeffrey dodged
the stones of neighborhood bigots and watched the Klansmen march through
town with a burning cross.  As a union organizer in Mississippi, she stood
bravely as company men snapped bullwhips at her feet.  Clearly, they didn't
know whom they were up against.

          She may be small in stature and humble in manner, but she is very
strong.  She worked for Walter Reuther and counseled the Kennedys,
influencing all with her courage and her unflagging commitment to social
justice.  To meet the need for more women in public office, she started the
National Women's Political Caucus, and sparked the effort to nominate
Geraldine Ferraro 16 years ago.

          For countless women around the world, she remains an inspiration.
Her impact will be felt for generations, and her example never forgotten.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  Nearly 20 years ago, very few researchers even
knew what AIDS was.  Even fewer had the courage to speak out about it.  Dr.
Mathilde Krim was one of the first to grasp its terrible implications.  But
she was not content simply to raise the alarm.  She marshalled others to
establish the American Foundation for AIDS Research, raising awareness,
raising millions for research, and raising the hopes of countless people
bravely confronting this deadly disease.

          Despite some promising scientific breakthroughs, we know the
fight against AIDS is nowhere near won.  As she reminds us, we must not
grow complacent.  She said recently, we're about halfway on a long road.
Thanks to her vision, her ability to inspire, her enduring compassion for
those in need, we now travel that road united and determined to prevail.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  His roots lie deep in the South Dakota soil.  In
small-town farms and the faith of his father, a Methodist pastor.  After
more than a half-century in public life, George McGovern still draws on
those teachings and traditions, and he's still imparts them to the rest of
us by the power of his example, the courage of his convictions, and his
proud legacy of public service.

          Long before he became a congressman or senator or a U.S.
ambassador, he became a hero.  His brave exploits in the skies above Europe
earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross, and more important to him, the
gratitude of the men he brought safely to ground.  Returning home, he
taught history, and then set out to make a little history himself -- first,
winning a seat in Congress, then a few years later creating the Food For
Peace program, one of the great achievements of the Kennedy era.

          By the time he ran for President in 1972, Senator McGovern was
not only a hero in war, but a stalwart voice for peace in Vietnam.  Hillary
and I and several others in this room, including the National Security
Advisor, Mr. Berger, and Eli Segal, who started AmeriCorps and our
welfare-to-work partnership, were honored to embrace his conviction that we
could move our country forward.

          For decades, his conviction never wavered.  Nor has his early
commitment to bringing food to the hungary.  Today he serves as our
Ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and he has
pledged to feed half a billion of the world's ill-fed.

          Senator McGovern and Senator Dole have come together to persuade
me, along with Congressman McGovern and Senator McGovern's Senator, Tom
Daschle, that the United States should lead the world to get one nutritious
meal to every child in every poor country in the world.  And I just
announced a couple of days ago our first $300 million contribution to that
goal.  (Applause.)

          This initiative could not only feed hungry children, but lead to
the enrollment of millions of children not now in school, especially girls
in poor countries.  So, George McGovern's work continues.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  On the wall of his Senate office are two framed
magazine covers.  One says, "Moynihan:  The Conscience of a
Neo-conservative."  The other says:  "Moynihan:  Neo-liberal."  (Laughter.)
I think he suspects that a great deal of his success in life has come as a
result of keeping the rest of us slightly confused.  (Laughter.)  But
whatever label is assigned to him, not a day goes by when Daniel Patrick
Moynihan is not brilliantly, dynamically, uniquely himself.

          He is Hell's Kitchen and the London School of Economics; a sailor
in uniform and a professor in tweeds; a subtle, sophisticated wit, and a
tough, blunt critic of social injustice; a man of ideas, and a man of
action.  By this dazzling collection of qualities, Pat Moynihan has served
and survived four successive presidencies, the only American ever to have
done so.  Most of the people who work for me are glad to have survived one.

          He represented American interests in India.  He has stood up for
our ideals powerfully in the United Nations.  New York sent him to the
Senate in America's bicentennial year, and in the quarter-century since, he
has championed diversity and waged without relent the War on Poverty he
helped to launch.

          I was interested to learn, as Hillary said, that Senator Moynihan
actually helped to create the Medal he is about to receive.  President
Kennedy charged him with that task.  And as the President decreed, the
standard of achievement was set very high, indeed.  I know that every
American will agree that in the four decades since, Senator Moynihan has
exceeded the standards set by every conceivable measure.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  Cruz Reynoso is the son of Mexican immigrants who
spent summers working with his family in the fields of the San Joaquin
Valley.  As a child, he loved reading so much, his elementary school
classmates called him, El Profe    -- the Professor.

          Later, some told him to put aside his dreams of college, saying
bluntly, they will never let you in.  But with faith in himself and the
values of our country, Cruz Reynoso went on to college and to law school,
but never forgot his roots.  He worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission and led the pioneering California Rural Legal Assistance
Program.  In 1976, he was appointed Associate Justice of the California
Court of Appeals, and rose to become the first Latino to serve on the
state's highest court.

          Today he continues to labor in the fields of justice, serving as
vice chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, opening new doors for
Latino lawyers, and teaching a new generation of students the world of law.
Not long ago, the person his classmates once called El Profe was voted by
his own students Professor of the Year.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  In the New Testament Book of Romans it is
written:  "And how shall they hear without a preacher?"  The Lord may have
had that passage in mind the day Gardner Taylor was born.  Or once again,
years later, when a terrible car accident convinced him to abandon law
school and enter the ministry.  His eloquence has inspired generations,
helping us to see the hard challenges of life in the revealing light of

          As founder of the Progressive National Baptist Convention,
Reverend Taylor helped to galvanize black churches all across America in
the struggle for human rights.  As a pastor in Brooklyn, he has worked to
repair the breach, whether racial, political, or economic.  He speaks not
just from the Scriptures, but from his soul.  The gift God gave him he, in
turn, has shared with us.

          For at least 20 years now, if anyone made a list of the five or
six greatest preachers in America, Gardner Taylor would always be at the
top.  For those of us who heard him preach, and those of us whom he has
counseled in his private wisdom, we know we have been in the presence of
not only a man of God, but a great American citizen.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  "When millions were murdered, why was I allowed
to live?"  For more than half a century, Simon Wiesenthal has asked himself
this question, again and again.  To those who know his story, one of
miraculous survival and of relentless pursuit of justice, the answer is
apparent.  From the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust, only a few
voices survived, to bear witness, to hold the guilty accountable, to honor
the memory of those who were killed.  Only if we heed these brave voices
can we build a bullwark of humanity against the hatred and indifference
that is still all too prevalent in this world of ours.

          I'm struck by another question Mr. Wiesenthal once posed:  How
does one explain to a young person what freedom means when he has been born
to freedom?  Answering this question is our common moral responsibility and
our enduring challenge.

          Mr. Wiesenthal is 91 years old now, and he had a little fall last
week, and regrettably, couldn't be here with us today.  He's all the way
over in Europe, in Vienna.  But he is listening to us by telephone.  Rabbi
Marvin Hier will receive the award on his behalf.  We thank him for a
lifetime of service and example and reminder, and for the astonishing work
of the Wiesenthal Center.  And after the citation has been read, I want you
to have a little extra umphf in your applause so he'll be able to hear it
all the way over in Europe.

          Commander, read the citation.

          (The citation is read.)  (Applause.)

          THE PRESIDENT:  You know, today's honorees come from an
astonishing array of backgrounds.  Their experiences and their service are
remarkably different.  Yet they share in common a devotion to freedom and,
its expansion, to being good citizens, to serving their fellow human
beings.  Everyone in our country has been enriched by the service of
everyone on this stage.

          President Johnson said when he first presented this award that no
words could add to the distinction of the men and women being honored
today; rather, their names add distinction to this award.  Even more, I
believe, that is true today.  They have added distinction, richness, depth,
and freedom to American life.
For that, the rest of us are proud, ennobled, and grateful.

          Hillary and I again want to thank you all for coming.  We ask you
to join us now in the State Dining Room for a reception.  But first I ask
you to express your support and gratitude once more for this remarkable
group of citizens.  (Applause.)

                          END          4:30 P.M. EDT

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