George Bush photo

Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Members of the White House Staff

January 23, 1989

Well, that official act having been completed, we all now are about to embark on a really great adventure. And I've often said that I see responsibilities in life as missions defined, and so I want to just say a few words, first welcoming all of you to what I know will be a superb White House staff. And we have a tremendous opportunity to make life better for people in this country, better in so many ways. And I think we can, by hard work, make this a safer and a more secure country.

The long hours and hard work that's associated with the White House staff are well-known. But these long hours can result in a country with more opportunity for all. And we've got to tackle, as you know -- some of you actively involved in this already -- the budget deficit and ensure an economy that is sound and stable. We can do a lot through the wonder of the White House to exhort, to use government resources widely, to make the educational system second to none.

As I mentioned in the Inaugural Address, many of you here will be involved in what I mentioned, which was the antinarcotics effort. And I said in the Inaugural Address we've got to get rid of the scourge, and some of you will be involved in all of that. We've got to challenge all elements of government and the private sector in the environment, to do better in protecting our land and water so these kids back here will grow up in a happy, sound -- I'm glad they're somebody else's kids, I'll tell you. [Laughter] You ought to have been around here the last 48 hours; it's been fantastic. [Laughter]

But the mission is great. But it really has to be accomplished in the finest tradition of our nation: pride, honesty -- spirit of idealism when it comes to public service, knowing that our actions must always be of the highest integrity. It's not really very complicated. It's a question of knowing right from wrong, avoiding conflicts of interest, bending over backwards to see that there's not even a perception of conflict of interest.

And so, I know that we'll all set a high standard in that regard. We've got to try. I am very proud of all of you. I think we have a wonderful team, and I'm confident that when our time is over in this marvelous place, I'll be just as proud of you. I'm delighted to see the families here today, and I would simply ask for your understanding because your spouses, husbands and wives, are embarking on an ordeal that is known to be a time-consuming killer in a lot of ways. The lights burn brightly well after dark around this place. And I just hope you'll be understanding because the system works that way. Work is really never done. And I thank you all for sharing your spouses with us.

I want you to know that all of you are important also as part of a team. Those who work in the White House make the personal commitment, and with that comes this sense of personal sacrifice. And I know that you all will be struggling at times with the give-and-take that goes hand in hand with assignments like this.

Barbara understands this. She set a good example, it seems to me, in a lot of volunteer action, and I hope that all of us in the White House and outside will do our part in terms of encouraging the volunteer sector, the Thousand Points of Light that I plan to keep on talking about. Government itself can't do it all.

So, I really came over with the Vice President to thank you all, to encourage your understanding, those here and to all of you here standing up here with me. I'm very, very proud to have you on our team. And now I understand there is going to be a little chance to browse through the room and wander down there and have a cup of coffee. But let's go to work!

Thank you all, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 a.m. in the East Room at the White House. Prior to his remarks, Vice President Quayle swore in the members of the White House staff.

George Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Members of the White House Staff Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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