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Public Papers - 1991 - October

Remarks on Signing the Columbus Day Proclamation


Let me salute our chairman, Frank Donatelli, and salute the members of the commission, Gay Kingham and other members of the native American community with us; Christobal Colon, a descendant by direct line of Christopher Columbus. Of course, all the Members of Congress we're delighted to see here. Ambassadors Zappala and Einaudi and other members of the diplomatic community, so many. And we're very pleased to see all of you here. Let me just welcome you to the White House complex. That's what this is called for various reasons. [Laughter]

It's an honor to celebrate Columbus Day. You know, we're, in addition, saluting the start of a year of activities saluting the 500th anniversary of the first landing in the New World.

Today I will sign a special proclamation. I might add a P.S., and that P.S. will mandate that all Americans learn to pronounce a new word, ``quincentenary.'' [Laughter] I'm trying to get it down myself.

It is not easy this week to resist the temptation to stretch the truth and try to establish some special link to the Italian community or to Spain, whose ships and sailors carried Columbus to the New World. I will resist it. I was telling that to my aides last week as we headed to our newly named auto fleet, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. [Laughter]

Emerson once said, ``Every ship that comes to America got its chart from Columbus.'' For half a millennium, what Columbus discovered has helped chart the course of exploration and opportunity, sailing freedom's ship to every corner of the Earth.

Today, we salute a hemisphere moving toward democracy and free enterprise, aided by initiatives like the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative. It is my hope that this quincentenary will commemorate the common heritage of America and its neighbors. In addition, we salute not only Columbus' spirit of adventure but also the story of this Nation, unafraid, ever-changing, challenging the unknown, devoted to the blessings of liberty and the principles that unite all Americans.

Columbus Day celebrates the idea that we do not value diversity merely because America is strong. America is strong because we value diversity. In that spirit, it is now my privilege to sign a proclamation designating October 14, 1991, as Columbus Day. Thank you all very, very much for being in attendance.

Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. in the Indian Treaty Room at the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, the President referred to Frank J. Donatelli, chairman of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission; Gay Kingham, executive director of the American Indian Congress; U.S. Ambassador to Spain Joseph Zappala; and Ambassador Luigi R. Einaudi, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.

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