Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to Fleet Week Participants on Board the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City

May 22, 1996

To the men and women of our Armed Forces gathered here today and their counterparts from Canada and Mexico and the United Kingdom who join us on board the Intrepid, first things first: At ease.

Mr. Sowinski, Secretary Dalton, Admiral Johnson, Admiral Flanagan, Rear Admiral Williamson, Mayor and Mrs. Giuliani. I am delighted to be here today. As your Commander in Chief, I've come to see you off on a challenging assignment, one that demands enormous stamina and strength: Fleet Week. A grueling schedule of baseball and theater awaits you, the seamanship olympics, the legendary best chow contests. Your abilities will be put to the test. Your orders for the mission are clear and simple: Enjoy yourselves. Have fun. You've earned it.

All around the world, every day of the year, you show what is best about our country: the commitment to stand up for freedom, to stand against oppression, to give a helping hand, to do all of that together as one America in alliance with our friends.

Among you are soldiers from the 77th Regional Support Command which helped to defeat Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm and now is working to preserve the peace in Bosnia. There are sailors from the U.S.S. Arleigh Burke which served as Red Crown in Operation Sharp Guard to protect our Adriatic fleet. There are airmen from McGuire Air Force Base who supported IFOR troops in Bosnia and evacuation airlifts in Liberia. There are coastguardsmen and women from Governors Island who rescued thousands of Haitians and Cubans seeking refuge on dangerous waters. There are marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, who, not shyly, recently returned from Trinidad and Honduras, where they helped to build schools and barracks. And there are citizen soldiers here from New York State who answered the call to action in the wake of recent snowstorms, floods, and fires.

I want all of you to know that America is proud of each and every one of you, grateful for all that you do. Your example explains why people around the world look to us for help and for inspiration.

I also want to say a special word of thanks to those who are here from other nations, for our partnership with our allies have provided us for some of the most important opportunities we have had in recent years to advance America's cause.

Let me say that I know the last few days have not been easy for our Armed Forces and especially for the United States Navy. We lost a great leader and friend in Admiral Boorda. But as we honor his service to our Nation, I ask you to be proud of your own achievements as well. You are members of the world's greatest military, whose values of honor, resolve, and integrity America respects so deeply. You protect our Nation on land, at sea, and in the skies. You project our strength and our values around the world. You stepped forward to serve your country. You do so with courage, commitment, and compassion every time America calls. We are grateful to you and grateful that you are the best trained, best equipped, best prepared fighting force on Earth. As long as I am your Commander in Chief, not only our gratitude but the reality of that statement will remain intact.

Your country and I thank you for everything you do. You have earned a week of celebration and now, liberty call.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:25 p.m. on the flight deck. In his remarks, he referred to Larry Sowinski, executive director, Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum; Adm. W.J. Flanagan, Jr., USN, commander in chief, Atlantic Fleet; Rear Adm. Robert C. Williamson, USN, commander, Carrier Group 2; and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City and his wife, Donna.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to Fleet Week Participants on Board the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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