Distinguished award winners, Mr. Suttle, ladies and gentlemen:
"A sound mind in a sound body" is an ancient formula for a good life.
Accordingly, we will seek better ways to educate the minds of our fellow Americans. And we seek better means to protect our bodies. But freedom from physical illness is not the same as physical fitness. It is toward that positive goal that the men and women that we honor here in the White House today aspire.
Physical fitness is too often overlooked in our modern society. Today, we tend to think of ourselves as thinkers or planners who are bound to a desk and an office. We forget that we are still made of sinew and bone. We too often forget the rare joy of physical activity-particularly those of us who get our main exercise running for office.
We forget, too, that a sound body will sharpen a sound mind.
Because they have not forgotten, the 12 winners of this year's Physical Fitness Leadership Awards are to be congratulated. They, and their colleagues across America, play a very major role in preserving America's vigor and vitality. I am pleased this morning to congratulate also the United States Jaycees for recognizing their achievements and encouraging the President's Council on Physical Fitness through their 6,000 local chapters.
It is quite important, I think, to note today just how much has been accomplished in America in the 6 years since the Council was reorganized.
--Thirty-two of the 50 States have increased the physical education requirements in their schools.
--The number of school children who participate in supervised play and exercise has just about doubled--to 40 percent.
--The number of youngsters who now have physical education classes at least three times a week has increased by about one-third--to 80 percent.
Today, our children leave school healthier, stronger, and more confident in their abilities than any who have gone before them.
We have come a long way since it was said that an abundant society would naturally produce nothing but flabby Americans, that an abundant America would not possess the physical mettle to cope with a dangerous world.
That has not happened, and it will not happen. We have come far in improving the strength and endurance of our young people.
Yet, as you know, there is more, much more, to be done.
There is a job of educating all our people to the importance of fitness. I am glad that you are helping.
I am also glad that local chapters of the Jaycees are assisting the Council to make sports and recreational facilities in the schools available for public use after school hours.
America can afford the best in schools. But we cannot afford to close their gyms and athletic fields and exercise equipment after an 8-hour day, or even after 180 days a year.
Our country, our beloved America, needs to be stronger. You are helping to keep our people healthy, and consequently happier, and therefore stronger. Thus you serve your Nation well.
For this I congratulate you, I thank you, and I wish you continued success.