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Public Papers - 1992 - March

Remarks to the Polish National Alliance in Chicago, Illinois

1992-03-16

Well, thank you, Ed Moskal, very, very much, and all of you for this welcome. May I salute our great Governor, Jim Edgar, with me here today. I think I heard you greet him. My respects to Ed Dykla, to the bishop, to Father Phillips, and of course to one of your own, a great friend of ours who has helped so much in this administration, as he did in Congress; I'm talking about Secretary Ed Derwinski, known to all of you here. And may I pay my respects to Poland's consul general, Michal Grocholski, who is here behind us. Delighted to have you here, sir. And again, thank you for that warm Chicago welcome.

Somebody suggested that this visit has something to do with a primary election. True, I'm working to win that election. But if anyone thinks we've got political headaches here, they're nothing compared with the problems that free Poland is facing today, particularly Lech Walesa is facing. We have two major parties here in this country. But look at all the parties he has to contend with, close to 20, 20 at the last count. Even the Polish Beer Drinkers' Party -- [laughter] -- true, they've split into two factions. Now, I know you follow Poland, but I don't know whether it's the light beer faction or whatever it is.

But I salute their President. I salute him for what he's doing. And he stood there when things weren't free, and there he is now, leading that country. And I really want to pay my respects here, surrounded by his many friends and admirers.

Whenever I come here, I remember other occasions that I've had to get together with the community. Back in 1988 at the wake for Al Mazewski, who was head of this marvelous alliance, I remember that well. At the inaugural celebration for my dear friend over here, Ed Moskal, I remember that one well, upbeat, enthusiastic. And then, of course, at a very beautiful special service, a Sunday Mass at St. Hyacinth's Church, which reminded me of a church that I visited outside Warsaw not so many months ago. But at St. Hyacinth's I had the privilege to join with many of you in prayers for peace and freedom and to lay a wreath at the memorial for the martyr of Solidarity, Father Popieluszko.

How our prayers have been answered in those short years. It is unbelievable. Since '88, the whole world has been transformed. And that change really, if you look at your history, began in Poland. Poland overthrew that cruel tyranny that Stalin imposed after Yalta. Now imperial communism, the communism that always wanted to take over someone else, is dead. The Soviet Union has ceased to exist. The threat of nuclear war has diminished dramatically. These are the blessings that millions of us have worked and prayed to attain.

For decades we faced a mortal danger. The Communists fought to dominate the world. The Soviet Union threatened the very existence of free Europe and the United States, too, with its massive armies and its nuclear arsenals. The Communists persecuted believers and demolished the houses of worship. They imprisoned the Cardinal, Cardinal Wyszynski, and murdered Father Popieluszko.

But all the while, believers, believers kept on believing: Stubborn believers, who suffered every sort of torment in prisons and labor camps; patient believers, who thought they'd never live to see the answer to their prayers; simple believers, who grasped little of geopolitical facts and circumstances and theories but knew they held the power to change their world in their folded hands. Inspired by heroic leaders like Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul, good people on both sides of the Iron Curtain worked as though everything depended on themselves, and they prayed as though everything depended on God.

And I remember how moving it was in 1987 when I, as Vice President, I stood with now-President Walesa on the balcony of Father Popieluszko's church that I'm sure many of you have visited in Warsaw, flashing the victory sign to thousands of supporters below; that when the Communists were still in power, I stood at his side, and we both did that. And once again, the church was central to the Polish people's yearning for freedom.

And then when I had the privilege in 1989 as President to stand with Lech Walesa and thousands of those freedom-loving Poles at the Gdansk Shipyard, when I saw the faith and courage of those people, you just knew, I knew in my heart what you've known for a long time as true believers, that freedom would prevail.

Even in the darkest days, we stood steadfast for Poland's right to be free. We kept the alliances strong. We gave humanitarian aid to Solidarity when it was needed the most. Today, as Ed mentioned, we continue to give assistance, helping Poland build a stable democracy, a prospering economy. In addition to the substantial financial aid, I understand the 1,000th cargo container of American humanitarian supplies was just sent on its way to Poland. And it's a wonderful thing. And I've just written Poland's President to offer further help in bringing more American investment to Poland.

Just as important has been the voluntary help from the church, from organized labor, from the Polish-American community. History will honor the role of Polonia, the worldwide Polish community, for giving birth to a new age of freedom. And to symbolize this, this year we will fulfill the dying wish of Mr. Paderewski and send his remains for burial in the sacred soil of a free Poland.

And yes, the world is safer and freer now, but we must not forget those who still have not won full freedom. I think especially of those brave people of those Republics of a disintegrating Yugoslavia who are seeking to establish their sovereign independence. As we told our European allies last week, we are giving positive consideration to the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia. We're also considering the most appropriate ways to meet the desire for peaceful transition to independence on the part of the other republics.

Our leadership for freedom must continue. You know that. No one knows better; no one knows that better than Polish-Americans. No one knows better the rewards of staying strong and engaged in the world. No one knows better than you the tragic harm that can come from weakness and isolation. We are going to keep working together. We're going to secure the peace and win new prosperity for Poland and all the free world.

So we've got to continue changing the world, and we must redouble our efforts to change America for the better. We've got to get this economy moving and create good jobs and strengthen our families and put limits on big Government. When I think of family values, I think of the times that I've been in the Polish-American community. And it's family that gives the communities their strength. And we must hope that that can be extended all across the United States of America. In essence, we are going to keep working together. We're going to secure the peace and win new prosperity. And we're going to keep on doing everything we can to create good jobs, to strengthen the families, as I say, and put limits on the big Government.

Let me close with a fable about liberal social planners that reminds me of Lech Walesa's down-to-earth humor. It's a story Russians used to tell during the last days of communism. A farmer's chickens were dying. So for help he went to the Communist Party hack who was the local agricultural commissar. And the commissar said, ``Give them aspirin.'' And over the next few days, 50 chickens dropped dead. The commissar then said, ``Give them penicillin.'' And in a few days, 100 more chickens died. So the commissar advised castor oil. After the castor oil therapy, the farmer went to the commissar and announced that all the remaining chickens had died. ``What a pity. What a pity,'' the commissar said. ``I had so many other ideas I wanted to try.'' [Laughter]

Well let me tell you this: As long as I am President, American families will not be guinea pigs for social planners. And we are going to keep family, dignity, work, and responsibility first, and we are going to make this country better. And this country was built on family, faith, and freedom, and we must renew those sources of our strength.

As Barbara and I count our many blessings, and we have a lot to be grateful for, we know that we can count on Polish-Americans to move this country forward to new glories.

And let me say this: When the economy is tough, and it has been, some suggest we turn inward. Some suggest that we forget what's going on across the oceans. As long as I am President of the United States, recognizing that it is only the United States of America, it's only our country that can lead for freedom and democracy, I will stay involved. I am not going to pull back into some fortress America. We are not going to forget our responsibilities to lead around the world.

And Poland deserves our support, and as long as I am President, they will have it. And I want to end by thanking every person in this room because not one single person here ever gave up hope for this glorious time that we see: a free Poland moving to strengthen its democracy, strengthen its hold on freedom.

Thank you for what you've done. You set a great example for the rest of the country. Many, many thanks. God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 3:35 p.m. at the headquarters of the Polish National Alliance. In his remarks, he referred to Edward J. Moskal and Aloysius Mazewski, president and former president of the alliance; Edward Dykla, president of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Bishop Joseph Zawistowski of the Polish National Church; Reverend Frank Phillips, pastor of St. John Cantius Church in Chicago; and Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, former Primate of Poland.

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