Public Papers - 1992
Remarks at an Independence Day Celebration in Faith, North Carolina
Thank you all very much. Mayor, thank you. Thank you very much, Mayor Hampton. And let me say to all of you, please be seated. [Laughter] Sorry about that. What a great day in Faith, and what a wonderful way to get here: play a couple of innings of ball, eat a little barbecue, drink a little of that wine or whatever they call it over there. [Laughter] Really, we're thrilled to be here, and thank you for that very, very warm welcome. I say warm, I use the term advisedly. [Laughter]
I'll tell you a little Trivial Pursuit: Fifty years ago almost to this day, I was a naval aviation cadet at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. That was my first taste of North Carolina hospitality, and this is my last and my very best up till now. So thank you all very, very much.
It's great to see our Governor here, doing a superb job for this State. You'll miss him in the governorship, but we've got to keep him active. He's done a great job for the State of North Carolina. May I pay my respects to another man I've been with shoulder to shoulder, Congressman Coble here, and just say to all of you, Daisy Bost and all that worked on this program, what a magnificent show this is. The Governor is right: We are proud to be in Faith, North Carolina, and proud to see this spirit alive and well.
I didn't hear the East Rowan High School Marching Band, but somebody -- here they are right here. Fantastic.
But this is a very special American day. I just came from the races down there in Daytona, and we saluted the king, a son of North Carolina, Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt, Dale showed us around and explained it, so it's been a great big high of a day for me here.
This one is a picture postcard holiday setting. You've got it all with the Little League and the softball games and the wheelbarrow races and the parade down Main Street. Now I'll be very short because I want to go over and try the bungee jumping. [Laughter] No, Barbara said it's okay to throw your hat in the ring, but not the whole body. [Laughter]
But we meet today in the State that gave birth to flight way back a thousand years ago, and on the day when the eagle soars proudest of all. We meet in smalltown America, in many ways, as I survey our great country, in many ways the spiritual heart of all America.
Several miles up the road is Salisbury, home to our friend Liddy Dole and home to Cheerwine -- [laughter] -- and a little east, Siler City, where television's Aunt Bea is buried. I've always wondered if Aunt Bea were with us today, if she'd be serving broccoli. I hope not. [Laughter]
Not every place in America is like these wonderful towns, but its values can and should be because the values that the Mayor mentioned, the values the Governor talked about, the values that you hold dear are the values that hold our entire country together. And we never should forget that.
When I go back to Washington, Barbara and I, we have about an hour and a half, I believe it is, maybe a couple of hours at the airport. Then we fly to Poland, where I'll stand shoulder to shoulder Sunday morning with Lech Walesa, the President. Remember him? The guy that stood up for freedom when nobody else could do it in Poland? Stood up and took the heat, and now Poland is free. He looks to the United States, and he says, ``Above all the countries, it was the United States of America that stood with me and offered me the hope for freedom.''
You know what it means to be good neighbors. You know what it is to have families, strong and united; good schools; safe neighborhoods; job-creating economy; and a world at peace. Now, you go over to the Faith Soda Shop or the Hairport or R I Variety, and you'll see the values that can achieve these goals. One is faith in self-reliance. You believe in equal rights for all Americans. Don't let anybody knock your town; you stand with me against bigotry and against racism. You believe in what is good and what is right.
Some regard principles as disposable, like TV dinners, but they couldn't be more wrong. Let others support some of this -- films and the programs which mock small-town America. But I stand with the millions who support your America. And there's nothing wrong with a Nation more like Salisbury or Faith, North Carolina. And believe me, carry those principles with you.
It's not just the name of the town, but from this springs another smalltown virtue: We believe America is special because of fidelity to God. We have not forgotten that we are one Nation under God, and that's an important thing to point out on July 4th.
I heard from the Mayor that there are 553, technically, 553 residents. But she tells me that on Sunday more than 800 attend church services, and that's pretty good out of a town of 553. Think of that. You show why, according to a Gallup poll, America is the most religious nation on Earth.
Remember the small boy expressing that conviction: ``God bless Mother and Daddy, my brother and sister.'' And he says, ``Oh, and God, take care of yourself because if anything happens to you, we're all sunk.'' [Laughter] And that kid is right, just as right as he can be.
So, the American people really have mountains of faith. And I believe the God who gave us life also gave us liberty. So again, I'd like to use this wonderful occasion, this national holiday, perhaps our greatest, to call on the Congress to pass a constitutional amendment permitting voluntary prayer in the public schools.
Barbara and I were talking earlier to people for whom every day is the Fourth of July. They don't apologize for the choking up when you hear ``The Star-Spangled Banner'' or standing at attention when you say the Pledge of Allegiance. And they don't apologize for the lump in the throat when a few blocks away over here on Gantt Street in the American Legion building they visit a monument dedicated to the veterans, the living and the dead, of every American war.
Here in Faith, memories run long, just as principles run deep. And Jim touched on it, but you know how to answer those who say that the success of Desert Storm should be forgotten. But look, you had 76,000, as he said, troops in this one State, deployed from North Carolina. I don't think Saddam Hussein -- who might by now have nuclear weapons, or if we hadn't challenged him we'd all be paying for gas as he moved into Saudi Arabia -- I don't think he doubts for a minute the will and the strength and the patriotism of the American people.
I know very well our veterans haven't forgotten it, those courageous, the best fighting forces we've ever put together. We stay together. I told Howard Coble -- I sometimes risk being a little personal. But I was shot down in World War II, and I learned something. I learned something in combat: The wingman doesn't pull away from the flight leader. When I was shot down into the Pacific, it was my teammates, one located my raft, another shot down a boat that was put out from a Japanese island, and I learned this: We are a team. We're a united country. When the going gets tough, we get moving. We don't apologize, and we don't quit. We never quit. And we don't forget the POW's and the MIA's, I might add, either. We're with them.
Eisenhower spoke of ``the great and priceless privilege of growing up in a small town.'' Well, Barbara and I are privileged to be in a small town that proves how right Ike was.
And ours is a nation, believe me, ours is a nation whose best days lie ahead. These kids here can go to bed at night with less fear of nuclear war because we've been here.
Now we've got to keep moving and bring that change to everybody in America that wants opportunity. And we can do it. Why? Because on this special day of freedom we are still the United States of America: nothing to apologize for, everything to be proud of.
Thank you, and God bless each and every one of you.
Note: The President spoke at 3:07 p.m. at Legion Park. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Judy Hampton of Faith; Daisy Bost, program coordinator for the Independence Day celebration in Faith; Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR driver and Winston Cup champion; Elizabeth Hanford Dole, president of the American Red Cross; and the late Frances Bavier, actress.