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Remarks at a Memorial Service for Casey Shearer in Providence, Rhode Island

May 25, 2000

The President. Derek, Ruth, Anthony, Julia, Marva, Allyson, all of the family and friends, I want you to know why we're here today. Over 30 years ago, I lived with Casey's Uncle Strobe, and through him I met Casey's Aunt Brooke. And they were in love, and so I then had to meet Derek and Cody and Marva and Skip. And then I introduced them to Hillary. And then Derek introduced all of us to Ruth. And the rest is history.

What I want to say to all of you is, when we were young, we were to each other what Casey has been to you. And I think I can say for all of us, listening to you today has been overwhelming and wonderful. And all I can hope is that you will hold on to it for the rest of your lives.

But we have a few memories, too.

[At this point, the First Lady made brief remarks.]

The President. His classmates might be interested to know that when I ran for President first in 1992, Casey actually tried to tutor me in rap music. [Laughter] You know, I would do this whole shtick. I played on Arsenio Hall's show, and I was trying to show that I was in tune with younger voters. I knew nothing about rap music. [Laughter] I knew nothing about the music of the eighties. I went to work and missed it all. Casey was horrified that I was going to embarrass myself on national television and blow the election. [Laughter]

I also remember, after we went to the White House, Casey and his family, we went to a Baltimore Orioles game together. And I actually thought I knew something about baseball until he offered the play-by-play. [Laughter] So I remember that.

[The First Lady made brief remarks.]

The President. Now, I come here today and find out that he gave a great gift to our Embassy in Italy with that—[laughter]. You know, even though I just have a few months left to serve, I still have some measure of influence, and I think I'll have a plaque put up at that pool. [Laughter]

Let me say to all of you just one last thing. Growing older has its joys. But one of the great burdens is the pain and mystery of losing children—the ones you know and the ones you don't. And I don't know any more about it today than I did when I was your age, but I know a little more about life. It's such a short time— 21 years, 22.

But a few days ago, I went to Chicago to an event, and after it was over I went with my friends there to the Field Museum, where Hillary spent a lot of time as a kid. Now, at the Field Museum now, they have this 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue, after the woman who found her on a South Dakota farm. I liked old Sue. And I thought to myself, we're all just passing through. I mean, she was here 67 million years ago.

And what I would like to say to you is that, whether you live for 20 years or 50 or 80 or 100, it doesn't take long to live a life. And Mr. Wordsworth was right, the last best portions of it are the little unremembered acts of kindness and love. Casey Shearer had a great life.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. in Sayles Hall at Brown University. In his remarks, he referred to the following members of Casey Shearer's family: his uncle, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott; his aunt, Brooke Shearer, former director, White House Fellowships; his father, former U.S. Ambassador to Finland Derek N. Shearer; his stepbrother, Anthony Shearer, and his stepsister, Julia; his mother, Ruth Y. Goldway; his grandparents, Lloyd (Skip) and Marva Shearer; and his uncle, journalist Cody Shearer. The President also referred to Casey's girlfriend, Allyson Grant; and Susan Hendrickson, volunteer, Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the First Lady.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Memorial Service for Casey Shearer in Providence, Rhode Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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