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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at the Frontier Days and State Centennial Parade in Cheyenne, Wyoming


Thank you, Mike. Thank you very much, Governor Sullivan, thank you for that warm introduction, and I am very pleased to be here. And Barbara sends her love to Jane, and we hope someday you'll come back and have supper at the White House -- the Sullivans.

It's great to be back in Cheyenne and great to be back under -- I would call it -- a big open sky -- I had other words planned. [Laughter] But in the place that as you say, the pavement ends and the West begins. Let me salute, in addition to Mike Sullivan, two former Governors who I just spot out here in the crowd, both friends, both admired Americans -- Governor Cliff Hanson and Martha, and Governor Stan Hathaway -- Stan and Bobbie -- right down in front. It's a great pleasure to see you here. There are also some other special friends here: Senator Malcolm Wallop, an ardent worker for so many things that Wyoming people hold dear. And of course, Senator Al Simpson -- as a key member of the leadership in the Senate, he takes on the tough fights and sticks with them and always has this -- don't quite know how to describe it -- sense of humor. [Laughter] Something he's going to need later when he takes me fishing. I'm not sure if I'm up to your State's cutthroat trout. I have trouble with the kinder, gentler rainbow kind of trout. [Laughter]

And to Dick Hartman, the chairman here; and Jerry Jessen, the chairman of the Frontier Days; and Dick, the chairman of the centennial, thank you for this warm welcome. Thank you for letting me and those with me be a part of this great day. And, of course, I want to salute Congressman Craig Thomas, with whom I work closely in the United States House of Representatives -- glad to have Craig with us. And special thanks to the mayor. I'm sure he'll be glad to see us leave town, but nevertheless, you couldn't tell that from the warmth of his welcome. Mayor Gary Schaeffer, congratulations on this wonderful day and thank you very, very much, Craig.

So, it's great to be here for this 94th Frontier Days, for the ``granddaddy of them all.'' It reminds me of rodeo atmosphere in Texas. But I want to say a special thanks first to the Casper Troopers. I've heard of them, but never heard them in action before. I haven't known him too long, but you ought to ride in a parade with Timber Jack and have Toughy at your feet when you're in that wagon out there.

Timber Jack. Yahoo!

The President. Thank you, Timber Jack.

I listened to that for three blocks. [Laughter] You know, I really do feel at home here. It's wonderful, watching them get hurled about by bucking broncos, wrestling steers, struggling to ride wild horses, not to mention bull riding. Enough about trying to deal with Congress. [Laughter] I'm really disappointed, though. I was looking forward to taking place in the chuckwagon races until I discovered the menu: barbecue, beans, and -- you guessed it -- broccoli. No thanks, I'm going on. [Laughter]

But on a more serious vein, I'm pleased to be here because there really is so much to celebrate about Wyoming: the exhilaration of the land, of course -- we talked about that -- crystal streams, some of the cleanest air in our entire country. And yours is the land where the passage of time and man have had little impact. And our Native Americans understand the meaning of land. A wonderful Native American poet, Peter Blue Cloud, writes of what land can tell to those who listen. And he says: ``Each day a different story is told me by the rain and wind and snow, the sun and moon shadows, this wonderful Earth, this Creation.''

But what we're celebrating most of all today is that you're keeping alive the most unique period of our communal history. For the West does begin here -- the special, sacred place that still fires our imaginations and swells our hope. There's a magic in it, a magic that's felt most of all here in Wyoming, the closest State we have to the Old West -- a State whose values, whose fundamental values, continue to inspire America, for its spirit is the most uniquely American that there is. And the values I speak of reject temporary fashion. Instead, they are values which are always in fashion. For a century they've shaped Wyoming, uplifted it, just as they mold it today. And they are as pertinent to 1990 as that year 1890 when Wyoming became a star in the American constellation.

To begin, Wyomingites believe in self-reliance and this drive, this insatiable rugged pioneer drive. And that's why, when it comes to our young people, you believe that the Federal Government doesn't have all the answers and doesn't know best, that families right here in Wyoming know what's best. You walk down any street here and ask about the kids, and you want to make the choice -- you want to make it -- about their care. You want to ensure that parents, not bureaucrats, decide how to care for America's children. And Wyomingites don't want to expand the budget of the bureaucracy, you want to expand the horizons of our kids. And so, you know that education is best which is closest to the people.

Education -- it's not a Republican issue or it's not a Democratic issue. It's not liberal or it's not conservative. It is an American issue. And we must do better in the United States of America. But here in Wyoming, your graduation rate is second in the entire Nation. And you rank seventh in the entire Nation of States who administer these ACT tests. You can ask Mike Sullivan here. He's of a different party from me, and I don't think he wants more red tape. And I know he doesn't want more mandated benefits out of Washington, DC, and as long as I'm President we are going to resist saddling Wyoming people with mandated decrees from Washington.

Because these Members of the Congress with me and the Governor agree that what we ought to do is reward excellence and seeing that the Federal dollars help those most in need. We've got to demand accountability. We've got to give parents and students greater flexibility. We've got to give them choice and ideas, in short, based on the values of local trust and local autonomy -- values as revered in Wyoming as love of freedom and love of God. You talk to Wyomingites and they'll tell you that political values without moral values simply cannot sustain a nation. So, you want voluntary prayer restored to America's classrooms. And so do I. Together, somehow, we've got to put the faith of our fathers back in our schools. And I think one of the reasons that Barbara's speech at Wellesley touched a chord is she was talking about these Wyoming values of family and faith. And the American people are crying out for just that. So, you go to any Wyoming county and see these values in action.

And here, too, we agree with a noted preacher who said, ``A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the nation itself.'' And I have a funny feeling, in spite of some of the criticism that I took for my recent attempt -- ably assisted by those right here -- to protect our flag, I have a funny feeling that Wyoming's sons and daughters might understand more than most why I feel so strongly about the flag of the United States. I have great respect for the Constitution and great respect for the Bill of Rights. But I'm determined to push through an amendment that protects that unique symbol of America -- I emphasize the word unique -- the American flag.

Finally, let me close with perhaps the greatest Wyoming value of all -- neighborhoods and hearts as big as the open sky. No one has had to tell you to lend a hand. You've done it. You are doing it. Building homes from sod, and schools to be constructed so kids could learn. You've all heard me talk about a Thousand Points of Light of community service, of one American helping another. In the last few months, I've named two Wyoming groups as America's daily Points of Light -- the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and the Yellowstone Recovery Corps. The volunteers -- the descendants of heroes who forded rivers and tilled your farms, fought off everything from claim-jumpers to grizzly bears. In Wyoming, ``do unto others'' is, indeed, a century-old creed.

My friends, this stunning sculpture of ``The Spirit of Wyoming'' says so much about you and your State and about the values I've talked about: generosity, self-reliance, love of country, love of God. Not only does it preserve a wonderful moment of Old West history for generations to appreciate but also, by being located between the capitol and your new Herschler Building, it leads us all from the past to the future. That is what the centennial is all about. By recapturing our history and by renewing the bonds between past and present and between each other, we can discover the way to move ahead together to face the challenges of future frontiers.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in exciting times. We're seeing these dramatic changes in the world where totalitarian states are giving way to democracy and freedom. It is an exciting time to be a member of the United States of America family. And I came out here to salute you for keeping the underpinnings of America's greatness alive. Thank you, and God bless each and every one of you. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:15 p.m. on the steps of the capitol building.

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