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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at the Thank You Houston Celebration in Houston, Texas


Listen, Barbara and I really wanted to come over and say thank you to all of you. To Judge Lindsey and to Mayor Whitmire, to Ken Lay and George Strake, Fred Malek, and so many others, I am very, very grateful -- and so is Bar -- and to our entertainers for tonight, Randy Travis and Jaclyn Smith, Marilyn McCoo. You know, when Marilyn was last here with the Fifth Dimension, she sang a hit called ``Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep at All.'' Well, we understand that, and I expect that Secretary Baker and Secretary Brady -- from the hard work they put in in the summit -- understand it. But let me tell you that, in the views of the United States delegation to this important summit, it has been a howling success. And much of the credit goes to Houston, Texas, and the thousands of volunteers that made all of us feel so at home.

And so, it's this celebration that tops off 3 days -- I would say 3 historic days -- for the people of Houston and, indeed, for the people of the world. For decades, we've kept the faith of freedom burning, we've borne the banner of liberty, and now the people of Berlin and Budapest and so many other parts of the world have lifted that liberty banner for themselves. And in Houston, the Presidents and the Prime Ministers who lead the largest industrialized democracies met to build a world beyond the cold war; to uphold the Revolution of 1989; to help liberated nations enter the 21st century as enduring democracies; and to support free world, free wills, and free markets for all mankind. So, you see, this hasn't just been a successful summit; in a broad foreign policy sense, it's been a celebration -- a celebration on behalf of all nations and of all peoples, a celebration of their victory over barbed wire and concrete walls and discredited despotism.

The tone of this summit was set by the people of Berlin last fall. And the success of this summit is a tribute to my six colleagues from abroad. But it is also a tribute to you, those who made this summit work, the people of the city of Houston, Texas. You know, I know that you've put up with a lot having us here -- closed streets, tail-bumper driving, nerve-racking regularity of helicopters, and constant security -- and I know how tough this can be on a town. But even more to the point, I want to thank you, thank you all, for all you have done to make this summit such a success.

You know, Houston, in my view, has always been a clean city; but thanks to the people of Clean Houston, this volunteer effort, this city sparkles. And I wish I could go out there and just shake hands and thank each and every one of the thousands -- literally thousands -- of volunteers who pitched in during their spare time to make Houston a showcase for the world. And just look at what you've done: thousands of volunteers -- we call them Points of Light, Texas Points of Light -- who scoured the streets and the alleys for litter, planting flowers in the parks, painting over graffiti. And by June 23d, Ken Lay and George Strake told me, 5,261 Houstonians put in 26,200 hours to remove 2.7 million pounds of trash and debris. And what a record -- what an example for the rest of our country.

You know, I really do believe that you've shown the world what Houston pride is all about. So, in closing, let me say that I know that Houston, our great city, has had a rough go in the last few years; but as I travel around town, I see more and more signs of a city not just on the mend, which we all know is true, but a city totally rebounding, a city on the go -- and not just a city with a future but a city of the future.

One other comment on today. I know that Barbara and I will never forget when the seven leaders and I moved through that downtown area how the whole city turned out -- the newscast this evening said more than 100,000 people along the streets with the balloons and the bands and the welcoming signs and the friendly smiles. And you turned this ordinary procession of motorcades into a parade, a moment of unforgettable international hospitality that the visiting Presidents and Prime Ministers and Chancellor will take home with them. Every single one of them commented to me on that warm outpouring of hospitality and friendship.

So, in short, you've shown the world what Houston hospitality is all about. You set it -- you set the background for a highly successful and very important meeting between these countries. And you made this Houstonian very, very proud of his hometown tonight. Thank you. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:13 p.m. in Butler Plaza at the University of Houston. In his remarks, he referred to Harris County Judge John Lindsey; Kathryn J. Whitmire, mayor of Houston; Ken Lay and George Strake, cochairmen of the Host Committee of the Houston Economic Summit; Ambassador Fred Malek, Director of the Houston Economic Summit; and Gov. Bill Clements. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

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