Secretary Morton, Governor Rockefeller, Governor Cahill, Congressman Peyser, all of the distinguished people who are here:
I appreciate this opportunity to participate in the dedication of this museum. In dedicating this museum, I wish particularly to pay tribute to all of those who have helped to make this country what it is.
[At this point, members of the audience chanted "Four More Years" in response to several demonstrators who were attempting to interrupt the President. The President then resumed speaking.]
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I would only suggest that on your television screens tonight, in addition to showing the six there, let's show the thousands that are over here.
Secretary Morton has referred to this memorial building which we have just dedicated. I simply want to say that as far as this memorial is concerned, that those who came to these shores, the shores of the United States of America--they have built their own memorial, because they built America and we are proud of those who built America.
A few moments ago, as we got off the helicopter, four little girls were there in native costumes to greet us. One of my aides pointed out the helicopter window and said, "That one is Italian and this one is Polish and this one is Ukrainian and this one is German." Let me say that every one of us is proud of his national background, but I say that instead of referring to someone, "He is an Italian, he is a German, he is a Pole, he is a Ukrainian," let's say, first of all, "He or she is an American," because those who came to this shore, if you go through this museum, have contributed so much to America.
One thing they have contributed is something that we see in America more than in any other country, and that is the diversity. My wife and I have had the privilege of visiting over 80 countries in the world--Asia, Africa, Latin America-but you don't have to go abroad, you don't have to cross the Atlantic or the Pacific, to see the world. All the world is right here in America. That is the greatness of America.
And so in America, whether it is in the field of music, whether it is in the field of art, whether it is in the field of architecture, in any area, we come from all of the world, and we have built a nation which carries out that great saying that "The hallmark of freedom is diversity," and the diversity of America is what makes us an interesting country.
So while we are all Americans, let us always be proud of our background, whatever that is, because that makes America a greater country.
I could speak of many ways in which those who came to these shores have enriched America, but let me point out one way in particular: They believed in hard work. They didn't come here for a handout. They came here for an opportunity, and they built America.
There is one other thing that I have found about those who have come from other countries, or their children. I have found that when it comes to love of country, when it comes to patriotism, those who came to America from other lands are very first in their hearts as far as love of America is concerned.
One of the great privileges a President of the United States has is to participate in citizenship ceremonies and to greet and shake hands with people from all the continents of the world and all the nations of the world. And, my friends--and particularly you boys and girls that are down here in front--let me just simply say to you that there is nothing that makes you appreciate this country more than to see somebody that has just become an American citizen with team in his or her eyes because they are so proud to be an American.
On our part, therefore, as we dedicate this memorial, let us dedicate ourselves also to a great proposition that brought people to these shores--and that is to make the American dream come true.
By the "American Dream" let us recognize that the American dream cannot be realized fully until every American has a chance to realize it in his own life. Let's give that opportunity to every American, whatever his background.
Then finally, if I could bring you just one message from other countries around the world. On my recent visit to the Soviet Union we stopped at Warsaw on the way back to the United States. I remember thousands of Poles in the heart of Warsaw welcoming the President of the United States and his wife with these words, "Niech zyje Ameryka," which means "Long live America."
To all of our friends here today, let us pledge ourselves that we not only will work for better opportunity for all Americans, whatever their national backgrounds, but let us work for the chance that all Americans can see all the world freely. And let us work for the chance that people who live in the countries from which we came, whether it is Poland or Italy or the Orient or wherever they may be, so that all of those people, and particularly the children of those lands, can grow up in a world of peace. That is what we want for all the world.
Finally, today, we thank you for welcoming us on this occasion. I urge all of you to spend the time that we did not have to see this museum and as you see it, you will realize that a very strong people came across those waters to America. Let's always be worthy of their strength, of their patriotism, of their love of America, and of their love of peace.