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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks at the Bicentennial Convocation at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts


Thank all of you very much on this beautiful fall day. My thanks to our headmaster, Don McNemar. I was accompanied here by two Members of the United States Congress, fellow alumni of Phillips Academy, Congressman Tony Beilenson and Congressman Andy Ireland, who are out here someplace. But I just want to introduce them. And to the board of this great school, to our outstanding faculty, to the students, administrators, the entire Andover family and community, and friends, I am just delighted to be back here. I'm sorry Barbara isn't with me. I know that's why this crowd is so big. [Laughter] But she didn't feel so hot. She's doing okay, but she just had a bad day yesterday. And so, she couldn't make it, but she sends her love and affection.

I want to thank you for this chance to visit -- and revisit -- the site of so many wonderful memories for me and to celebrate such an historic moment in the life of this academy, because as Don said, it was 200 years ago to this very day that the founder of our country visited one of this country's oldest academies. And George Washington would later write fondly of Andover. And in that vein, legend says that he kissed a young girl at the Andover Inn. [Laughter] It is reported that she never washed that cheek again. [Laughter] But now, I can't bear living testimony to his visit, but I can speak very briefly of my time here. I loved those years. They did, indeed, teach the great end and real business of living. And even now its lessons of honesty, selflessness, faith in God -- well, they enrich every day of our lives.

You remember, I'm the guy that said Pearl Harbor Day was on September 7. I want to clear that up -- [laughter] -- because it was right about here, where that guy in a red coat is standing, that I heard that our country was at war on December 7th, 1941. And it was over there, in Cochran Chapel, that in June of 1942 a graduate of Phillips Academy gave our commencement address -- Henry Stimson. He was then Secretary of War, and he observed how the American soldier should be brave without being brutal, self-reliant without boasting, becoming a part of irresistible might without losing faith in individual liberty. I never forgot those words.

For 211 years, Phillips Academy has embodied the qualities that Secretary Stimson alluded to. And it has shown how we are ``one nation under God.'' It has inculcated into its sons and daughters a sense of service to country and a sense of service to others -- each day I'm reminded of this. This is the message of our years here and the message with which I close. Without God's help we can do nothing. With God's help there is nothing we cannot do, for our children and for the world.

Thank you for inviting me. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 10:45 a.m. in Samuel Phillips Hall. Following his remarks, he participated in a tree-planting ceremony.

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