Remarks at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii
Admiral Larson, ladies and gentlemen, it's a great honor for me to be here, not for the first time but for the first time as President, to honor the memory and the service of those who were killed 52 years ago on a Sunday morning like this in the service of their country. During December of 1941, Americans throughout our Nation were going about their business aware that much of the rest of the world was already embroiled in a conflict but hopeful that America would not be forced into it, that somehow by standing apart we might keep America's shores and our sons and daughters safe from the strife that had then engulfed much of the rest of the world.
Much has changed since that fateful Sunday morning in 1941. The United States no longer faces the threat of an expansionist Germany or Japan. Indeed, I have just met with the leaders of those two nations and four others in an attempt to increase the prosperity and opportunity of all the peoples who live within our nations. The expansionist Soviet Union, which sprung up after the Great War, was dismantled in the failure of communism in the last few years. And at this same meeting in Tokyo, the new democratically elected President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, came and talked to us about how together we might build a brighter and freer and more prosperous future for his people.
Our closest friends now are those with whom we fought a half a century ago. And yet, it is still as clear now as it was then that the United States cannot disengage from the world. To be economically and physically secure, we must continue to be strong. In visits to Japan and to Korea I have reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the security of our allies and friends in the Pacific, beginning with a continuing military presence made possible by the men and women who serve our Nation here at Pearl Harbor and throughout the region. As we honor those who gave their lives a half century ago, let us also honor those who guard our security today.
I had breakfast with some of the young men and women of the Pacific Command this morning. And Admiral, I thank you very much for that opportunity. I was profoundly impressed by their energy, their discipline, their knowledge, their commitment, their willingness to do their jobs. I met with other members of our Armed Forces in Korea yesterday, including in the DMZ, where I was able to take the most forward position that any American President has ever enjoyed, standing on the Bridge of No Return about 10 yards from the dividing line which still separates us from what is perhaps the most anachronistic Communist regime remaining in the world.
I believe more strongly than ever before that the world has never had a better fighting force than the men and women who serve in the military service of our country. We are all in their debt for their service and their dedication. We are all proud of what they do for us.
So in the presence of this memorial to those who gave their all in 1941, looking across the harbor at our magnificent fleet of 1993, let us resolve today to honor their sacrifice and their service by maintaining the best prepared and best equipped force in the world, always ready to meet any challenge, always worthy, and receiving our full support.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. In his remarks, he referred to Adm. Charles R. Larson, commander in chief, U.S.. Pacific Command.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219710