Secretary Mathews and distinguished guests:
It is especially fitting this year that we set aside a period to honor our older citizens. Their insight and experience, their wisdom and their courage has contributed beyond measure to the development of our 200-year-old Nation. We must make it possible for older Americans to continue their involvement in our national life.
One of the best ways we can draw upon their strengths and skills is in the job and volunteer market. Too often, older and even middle-aged Americans are the victims of myths and prejudices regarding their capabilities. Americans must repudiate these myths and prejudices, as we have repudiated others, and assure our older Americans the chance to prove that time has only enhanced their demonstrated abilities.
It is important that our Nation makes every effort to recognize the worth and the dignity of our older citizens. To this end, the Federal Council on Aging has prepared a Bicentennial Charter for our older Americans. This charter sets forth principles to guide us in evaluating our Nation's response to the problems facing older persons and in appreciating the response to the problems now confronting our Nation.
One of these principles is the right to an adequate standard of living in retirement. Let me reaffirm that older Americans have earned the right to live securely, comfortably, and independently.
As I have said before, the value of our social security system is beyond question. I will do all that I can to ensure the integrity of the Trust Fund, so that future generations of retirees may continue to rely on it.
With these thoughts and commitments in mind, I am happy today to join in this annual proclamation designating May as Older Americans Month. I urge all organizations concerned with employment and volunteer services to observe this month with ceremonies, activities, and programs designed to increase opportunities for older persons, and I urge that such programs include public forums for discussion of the Bicentennial Charter for Older Americans.
I ask all Americans to join me in reflecting upon the achievements and the needs of our older citizens.