Jimmy Carter photo

Spokane, Washington Remarks at Dedication Ceremonies for Riverfront Park.

May 05, 1978

Senator Magnuson, Governor Ray, Governor Evans of Idaho, who is with us today, my friend Congressman Tom Foley, Congressman Dicks, Mayor Bait, Secretary Andrus and Secretary Bergland, many friends from Spokane:

During the last few days, I've been pleased to leave the city of Washington, D.C., and to visit the western part of our great Nation. I've been enjoying the beauty of it. I've been discussing with our citizens of all kinds, questions of great importance to ourselves, our families, our communities, our Nation, indeed, the entire world. I've been talking about the desire for peace, based on a strong America and a strong national defense. I've been talking about the beauty of our country, clean air, clean water, clean and productive land. I've been talking about our Nation's forests, our Nation's water resources, our Nation's fields that produce the food and fiber for us and the rest of the world.

I've been listening to suggestions and criticisms and talking with those who are experts on these subjects and who have a genuine desire to resolve the longstanding problems and questions which we all face—the questions of energy that have too long been ignored.

We now see these problems reaching a stage where they must be resolved. There are no easy answers. There are no quick solutions, because we have a strong, dynamic, growing, aggressive, competitive nation.

As President, I realize that I don't know all the answers, that Washington is not the source of all solutions, that there must be a genuine partnership between me, the Governors, the mayors, county officials, the Congress, and private citizens of all kinds, to make common sacrifices, to make common commitments, to realize the potential beauty and the greatness of our Nation.

It's good for me to come back to Spokane today to this same site where I was thrilled in 1974, when one of the days was called Georgia Day and I and my wife and my daughter, Amy, could look at the beauty of this river, stand in awe at the waterfall, see what a city of not great population could do to inspire the world, at the self-sacrifice and accomplishment that was exhibited here in Expo '74.

I wondered then about the background of Spokane and the future of this lovely site, once the excitement of Expo '74 was past. I flew in on a plane traveling tourist class, which was my custom then because of necessity, and I saw the beauty of your land. And today when I came on Air Force One, I had the same opportunity.

My friend Tom Foley thinks the Inland Empire is an American version of the Garden of Eden. And as I looked over the rich agricultural land and the beautiful mountains and hills and streams as I flew in this morning, I can see what he means.

You're lucky to be represented in Congress by a man like Tom Foley. In the last year and a half, I've learned why he is one of the most respected men in the Nation's Capital. In many areas, but especially farm agricultural policy—on which he does not always agree with me, I have to admit—he stands for responsible solutions that protect the interests of farmers and of all America. He understands, from a practical perspective, the special problems of farmers in this area, and he always represents your viewpoints very well.

This park is an achievement that would make any city proud, but you should also be especially proud of your Senator, Warren Magnuson, for the essential role he played in bringing this park into being.

As all of you know, it was Senator Magnuson who explained to the Federal Government the importance of this facility to your beautiful city and who helped to obtain Federal grants to aid in its construction.

As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and soon to be President pro tempore of the Senate, Maggie is in an excellent position to continue his fine work for Spokane and the rest of Washington State—indeed, the entire Nation. He's one of the greatest Senators that I have ever known, and I respect and love him very much, as do all of you.

He expressed a philosophy that has always been my own: that the best government is a government closest to the people, that people ought to control their government, not let government control them, and that public officials should never forget who put us in office, and that we don't know all the answers at the State capital or the National Capital. The answers must be derived, even to most complicated questions involving foreign policy and national defense, from people like you all over our great Nation.

Today, we come to think about a particular aspect of American life. Since the days when I was a State legislator and then a Governor in Georgia, I've understood the special need to promote environmental and historical perspective and preservation. This is a place of lasting value that is also an economic boom to your whole entire region and State. I'm glad that the Federal Government has been able to join—not in a leadership role, but a supporting role—State government, the city of Spokane, and business interests like your railroads and the Land Resources Corporation, in creating something that brings enjoyment and prosperity to so many people.

Riverfront Park also shows very clearly what can be accomplished in urban redevelopment. You've transformed an area that was declining, that was far short of its great potential, into one of the Nation's most innovative and refreshing urban settings. I have proposed, as part of my own administration's new urban policy, a $150 million urban park and recreation program which can make possible, under Cecil Andrus' leadership, other parks like your own beautiful one here. And it also shows in a symbolic way the continuing relationship between energy and the environment.

Most of the Federal share that helped build this park came from our lease revenues from oil and gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf. My administration is committed to the belief that we can meet our Nation's energy needs and continue to protect and to enhance our irreplaceable natural environment. As those of you who have come from Coeur d'Alene know firsthand, we have in Cecil Andrus a Secretary of Interior from Idaho who's deeply and personally committed to that goal.

In the 15 months since I became President, my administration and the Congress have begun to tackle the most difficult problems facing our country. I've come here to listen to the people of this region and to ask your help for the programs and policies we need.

Later on today, I'll be facing for an extended period of time many of you and your fellow citizens in a direct interchange of questions and ideas, where there is no constraint on what you want to ask me or to suggest to me in how I can be a better President.

To solve the problems of our decade, we must recapture what is best in our national spirit. We must be willing to put aside regional differences. We must be willing to put aside, also, our special interests, our selfish grasping for advantage, and contribute to the general good. We must be willing to make sacrifices so that others will follow our lead. Because I am confident that our Nation is ready for that kind of challenge, and because we have no alternative except to face difficult problems, I've asked the Congress and the people to work with me in areas of greatest challenge.

On energy, we must act to conserve and to produce more, to import less, and develop alternative sources. On inflation, we must work together in a spirit of cooperation and restraint to slow the rising costs that threaten the economic security and the well-being of every American family. It's here that our greatest challenge may come. We cannot control inflation without common sacrifice and common commitment by us all.

On civil service, I need your support to help pass my reforms and to bring more efficiency and more incentive into the bloated Federal bureaucracy, which must be improved.

Here in the West, as well as elsewhere, we must improve our ability to protect the national environment while maintaining economic growth and development. This is a great challenge, but I have every confidence that we can meet it and succeed. We will never see the quality of life, the beauty of our environment deteriorate as long as I'm serving you as President in the White House.

None of this is going to be easy, and I don't pretend that any of us has all the answers. Many people say that as President of the United States, I have the most difficult job in all the world. But I have confidence that the people understand that there are no easy answers. I believe that people understand that difficult questions, too long ignored, must now be addressed.

I think people understand that there are conflicts of interest, even among the most well-meaning and dedicated and patriotic American citizens. This is part of our democratic society. But I feel an assurance, as President, that I can do a good job, to the extent that I maintain my close relationship with you and enhance the partnership that must exist in our great Nation.

I know that our reaction to these challenges will be the measure by which we will be judged by future generations.

The Congress and my administration can only do so much. We can never succeed without broad public support. We need the confidence and the understanding and the commitment of the American people. We need it in Washington, D.C., and we need it in Washington State, and I know that we can find it.

This partnership between you and me will help to realize the true greatness of our Nation.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:16 p.m.

Jimmy Carter, Spokane, Washington Remarks at Dedication Ceremonies for Riverfront Park. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245685

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