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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks at a Cinco de Mayo Celebration

1989-05-05

Welcome to this Rose Garden celebration. [Laughter] But even the weather couldn't put a damper on a wonderful event like this, and I'm delighted to be here. I salute Mexico's Ambassador to the United States, who honors us with his presence. And next to him, my trusted friend, John Negroponte, who is going to be our next Ambassador to Mexico. So, we're well-represented here today.

Secretary [of Education] Cavazos, thank you, sir, for, in a sense, sponsoring this wonderful program. But isn't it a great sight to see the folklore and the traditions of a proud past so refreshingly alive in these kids! And you're all from Toledo, Ohio? [Laughter] Are you? That's fantastic. The whole scene -- the costumes, the music, the pageantry -- reminds me of my days as a Congressman in Houston, or indeed, some of my times in West Texas. Cinco de Mayo is a big one down in Texas, as I'm sure many of you in this room know, just as it is throughout the United States. And, in my view, it's becoming more significant or more celebrated each year, and the reason is obvious: We and Mexico are bound by ties of family, culture, and friendship. This is keenly appreciated in the Bush family. Barbara and I have always felt at home in the Hispanic community, and living in Texas, we are impressed by those values -- caring, patriotism, love of God.

What is true of a family is true of a nation. Hispanic culture is growing deep roots into American life, and that's why the Hispanic community plays such a pivotal role in our national culture and in this administration. Not only do we have two highly respected Hispanic leaders -- Lauro Cavazos and Manuel Lujan [Secretary of the Interior] serving in the Cabinet -- but key advisers, six senior members of the White House staff sharing your Hispanic heritage and pride. And I see that several of our new appointees are with us today -- Hispanic Americans whose service to their country will add to that pride. We deeply respect your commitment to family, honor, and tradition. We need the advice and the involvement of everybody here. You are leaders, and this is the age of empowerment. Empowerment is economic as well as political. Since 1982 more than two-and-a-half million Hispanic Americans have joined the job market, but this is not enough. We will not be satisfied until every Hispanic man and woman can make the most of their drive and their talent in the United States of America.

And on this day we also recognize something else that binds together the United States and Mexico. We are two former European colonies whose independence has been hard won. Less than 1 week ago, I joined in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the swearing-in of George Washington in New York. How appropriate it is for us to now observe the victory of another champion of liberty, Benito Juarez. Like Washington, he possessed a homespun dignity, a simple eloquence, and a commanding presence. Both were men of peace who were forced to fight for freedom.

So, this is a day for all of us to look southward -- to memories of home and hearth for some, to memories of friendship and respect for the rest. Think of the 5th of May as not a national holiday of another country only but as the celebration of ideals that know no border -- ideals of pride, family, and tradition. And this is the spirit of the Hispanic community, and this is the spirit of all Americans, north and south of the Rio Grande.

Thank you for being with us today. Happy Cinco de Mayo, and welcome.

Note: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gustavo Petricioli, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., and Benito Juarez, the first President of Mexico. A mariachi band performed prior to his remarks.

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