Remarks by the President to American Troops and Families (7/22/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Okinawa, Japan)

For Immediate Release                                   July 22, 2000

                            REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                          Camp Foster Marine Base
                                        Okinawa, Japan

11:18 P.M. (L)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, this is the largest crowd I have
ever addressed at this late hour.  (Applause.)  Hello, U.S. forces,
Okinawa!  (Applause.)

     Thank you, General Hailston, General Smith, General Hughey, Admiral
Schultz, Colonel Sullivan.  Let's give another round of applause to Staff
Sergeant Wehunt.  He did a good job for you up here, didn't he?

     I'm delighted to be here with my daughter, Chelsea, and Ambassador
Foley.  We're glad to be here.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  We were supposed
to do this tomorrow, but I think you know that I have to leave early to try
to go back to the peace talks at Camp David on the Middle East.  And I hope
we will have your thoughts and prayers.  And that's why we can't do it

     But now I will go back in the right frame of mind, since I spent the
night with you.  (Applause.)  And when I fly back home to peace in the
Middle East, maybe you'll be going to Okuma instead of listening to me give
a speech.  (Applause.)

     This is a really beautiful place.  And I feel blessed to have had the
opportunity to come here and to see the impact of your service here.  In
spite of how beautiful Okinawa is, I know you're still a long way from
home, so let me begin, on behalf of every American citizen, by thanking our
soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- (applause) -- and your families --
(applause) -- for your service here for the United States.

     Earlier this month, I spent the 4th of July, my last 4th of July as
President, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on the flight deck of the
USS John F. Kennedy.  On the very first 4th of July, back in 1776, George
Washington was not in Philadelphia when the Declaration of Independence was
signed.  Instead, he was with his troops in New York, in Manhattan, as the
British ships landed just a few miles away on Staten Island.  When the
Declaration of Independence arrived from Philadelphia, General Washington
had it read aloud to his troops so they would understand that the success
of America depended upon the success of our military.  It was true 224
years ago; it remains true today.

     Thanks to you, the work you do everywhere, and here with our ally,
Japan, we live in peace.  There is peace here, in part because Three MEF is
here, with the Third Marine Division  -- (applause); the First Marine
Aircraft Wing -- (applause); the Third Force Service Group -- (applause);
the Marine Corps Base, Camp Butler--  (applause); the Air Force's 18th Wing
-- (applause); the Army's 10th Area Support Group -- (applause); the Navy's
Task Force 76 -- (applause); and Fleet Activities Okinawa.  (Applause.)
And everybody I didn't mention, cheer for yourselves here.  (Applause.)

     All of you know well the sad and difficult history of the Battle of
Okinawa.  On Friday, I had the honor of visiting the Cornerstone of Peace
Park.  The names of all who died are inscribed on the walls there --
Japanese and Americans, and Okinawan soldiers and civilians alike.

     It is a remarkable memorial, not just to one side in a battle, but to
all the people who lost their lives.  It is a stirring statement of our
common humanity.  And it strengthens our commitment to see that such a
terrible thing never occurs again.  (Applause.)  That is why you are here.
I don't want you to ever forget it, and I want you to always be very, very
proud of what you are doing.

     You will never know how many wars you have deterred, how many deaths
you have prevented.  But you know the number of wars that have been fought
in these waters since the United States forces have been stationed here.
That number is zero.  You should be very, very proud.  (Applause.)

     We know our hosts in Okinawa have borne a heavy burden, hosting half
our forces in Japan on less than one percent of its land.  They, too, have
paid a price to preserve the peace, and that is why we need to be good
neighbors to them in addition to being good allies; why each one of us has
a personal obligation to do everything that we can to strengthen our
friendship and to do nothing to harm it.

     We must continue to hear the concerns of our Okinawan friends to
reduce the impact of our presence, to promote the kinds of activities that
advance good relations -- activities like those of the volunteers who help
with English language instruction for elementary schoolchildren in Okinawa;
like the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, who just replaced a 30-foot-high
steel footpath bridge in an island village in northwest Okinawa; like the
volunteers from the 10th Area Support Group who joined the people in
Yomitan Village in getting the island ready for the G-8 Summit; like our
Naval hospital and our fire departments -- (applause) -- working with their
counterparts to improve emergency services; like the 7th Communication
Battalion's efforts -- (applause) -- to do clean-up, make repairs and pay
visits to the residents of Hikariga (phonetic) Ogata Nursing Home.

     And so many of you, the rest of you who reach out in your own way to
schools, to orphanages, to hospitals, to retirement homes -- these acts of
kindness give a whole new meaning to the old words, send in the Marines.

     Two hundred and twenty-four years ago, when America was born, the
world's only democracy was defended by an Army that was then very badly
outnumbered.  Today, you are part of the greatest fighting force in
history, part of the forward march of freedom.
     But the most important thing I want to say to you is that your fellow
Americans are proud of you and grateful to you.  As I think about the
enormous honor I have had for seven and a half years now to serve as
President -- an honor which included visiting more military units than any
other Commander in Chief in the history of the Republic -- I am profoundly
moved by what I have seen, and by what I see here tonight.  I wanted to
come here, and I thank you for changing the schedule and coming out
tonight.  I thank you for the inspiration you've given me as I go back to
try to finalize the peace talks on the Middle East.  I thank you for giving
your lives to the United States, and the cause of freedom and peace.

     Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.  Thank you.

     END  11:28 P.M. (L)

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