Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks Aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal During Operation Sail in New York Harbor.

July 04, 1976

Secretary Middendorf, Ambassador Mosbacher, Admiral Kidd, Captain Barth, John Warner, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

At the outset, let me express my gratitude and appreciation on behalf of all the American people for everybody who had any part of making Operation Sail a success. I congratulate each and every one of you for a superb job.

It is a great pleasure for me to join my fellow Americans and the citizens of the world in this celebration of America's 200th birthday. No tribute could be more spectacular than the grand international armada which fills this great harbor today. The magnificent array of "Tall Ships" and naval vessels, the proud emissaries of 30 other nations, form an escort of special grace and beauty as the United States of America enters its third century of independence.

As we view this dramatic scene, we are reminded that America is a proud family of many peoples from many lands. We are reminded, as well, how the sea and ships have played a vital role in the life of our country. Our discoverers and explorers were sea voyagers from many nations. Our earliest colonists, seeking a new life in a new land, first had to test their strength and spirit against the Atlantic.

The U.S. Navy and the navies of our allies played a leading part in winning and defending the freedom we celebrate today. That tradition of strength and courage spans two centuries, from the time of John Paul Jones to the battles of Midway and Leyte Gulf.

Since we became a nation, the sea has also been a passageway for millions and millions of people from all over the world who have come to America to share its bounty and its opportunity and to enrich our future in return. In this harbor stands the Statue of Liberty, herself an immigrant from France, lifting her torch to those who come to join the American adventure.

As we close the log of our second century, we begin an uncharted voyage toward the future. What may lie along that course and where it may finally take us, we cannot know. But we do know this: Americans have always moved ahead with confidence, as we do now, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence and guided by the fixed star of freedom.

So, let us journey together into the seas of tomorrow. For America, the future is a friend.

Thank you very kindly.

Note: The President spoke at 2:06 p.m. on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Forrestal, the host ship of the International Naval Review in New York Harbor. In his opening remarks, he referred to J. William Middendorf II, Secretary of the Navy; Emil Mosbacher, Jr., Operation Sail chairman and Chief of Protocol for the State Department 1969-72; Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., USN, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet; Capt. Joseph J. Barth, USN, U.S.S. Forrestal commanding officer; and John W. Warner, Administrator of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

Prior to his remarks, the President rang the ship's bell 13 times--symbolizing the Thirteen Original Colonies--which began the simultaneous ringing of bells across America in commemoration of the Bicentennial.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks Aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal During Operation Sail in New York Harbor. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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