Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to "I Have A Future" Program Participants

May 01, 1995

Dr. Foster, Dr. Peters, Jason and LaShonda, the "I Have A Future" teens and parents, and the national community leaders that are here. I have received, in this room named for Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Kings and Queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents, Senators and Congressmen and Governors, Nobel Prize-winning scientists, world-famous citizens. I have never been prouder to receive people in this room than I am to have you here today. LaShonda and Jason have said everything that needs to be said about this, about Henry Foster and about the "I Have A Future" program.

For a very long time, I have been concerned about how many of our young people we are losing because of teen pregnancy or drugs or violence or just giving up on school. This program, which combats teen pregnancy through abstinence and hope, which keeps people in school and off drugs and away from violence, is what America ought to be about. We have people here every day making speeches about all this. You have actually done something about it.

We have people here every day rushing to define people that they're opposed to in little cardboard cut-out terms, so that it will fit in 15 or 20 seconds that shoots across the airways at night on the evening news. Now you know, because you know Dr. Foster, how easy it is to make something big little, something little big, something straight twisted, something good look wrong.

Henry Foster has been a teacher and a doctor. He has done everything he could to promote life's best values. He has spent a lifetime addressing the problems that are now engulfing our country. If we can't save you kids, we can't save America. If we can't convince you that violence is wrong, that drugs are wrong, that teen pregnancy is wrong, that you've got to live for yourself and make the most of your life, we can't save America. Most folks get so cynical and skeptical, they think nothing good can happen. Well, here it is, something good happening, something wonderful happening, something that is changing lives and it is bringing people together, something that there is no partisan politics in, something that is just good, rooted in old-fashioned, good, decent American values.

Everybody that looks at it has reached the same conclusion. My predecessor, President Bush, honored the success of this program by naming it one of the 1,000 Points of Light. President Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Lou Sullivan, said that "I Have A Future" is the kind of program this country needs because it turns young people's lives around. I didn't say that, though I sure believe it. They said that.

So I say to you, I'm glad you came up here to fight for Henry Foster, and I'm glad you came up here to fight against people who are compelled, for political reasons, to label Americans and put them in little boxes and turn them into something they're not.

I'm glad you came up here to tell the Members of the Congress, "If you want me to grow up to be a good citizen, if you want me to believe in the American way of life, then you had better honor it in the decisions you make." If we can't confirm Henry Foster to be the Surgeon General of the United States, what kind of person can we confirm? He deserves it, and America needs the kinds of thing that you have shown us here today.

When you go home, you remember what I told you: In this room, Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, Senators and Congressmen and Governors, Nobel Prize winners, world-famous people, but you are carrying the future of America in your soul, in your spirit, in what you believe in, and in what you do. And America has a future if you have a future.

Tomorrow, you show that to the Congress, and you show that to America, and you say, "We're not going to let this good man be put in a little box for somebody's political objectives. The future of the children of this country is more important than that."

Thank you, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:45 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Surgeon General nominee Henry Foster; Dr. Sheila Peters, coordinator of community services, "I Have A Future" Adolescent Health Promotion Program; and program participants Jason Gordon and LaShonda Maryland.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to "I Have A Future" Program Participants Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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