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Swearing-In Ceremony Remarks at the Swearing In of the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, the Director of ACTION, and the Chief of Protocol.

March 02, 1977

I am very proud this afternoon to present to the Nation my choices for three very important and, I think, significant posts in Government. We've just come through a historic time of combat in Vietnam and Cambodia, when our Nation was torn apart. Many people felt that the war was ill-advised and took different measures of expressing their displeasure or their commitment to follow our Nation's decision, whether it was right or wrong.

Sam Brown was one of the leaders of a group of young people who expressed in forceful terms their disapproval of the war. And they engaged in a form of civil combat on the streets of Chicago, and they showed a great deal of courage in their own way. I have asked Sam to head up the ACTION department within which will be involved the Peace Corps volunteers and those who work in other aspects of domestic service, in VISTA, and to add a new dimension to this department of deep commitments by many people in volunteer service to our country.

I think there is a pent-up desire on the part of our people to serve in a voluntary way--in mental health programs and environmental quality programs, in dealing with the problems of education and many other questions that face our people and which can never be handled exclusively by our Government employees.

Also, I would like to introduce to this group my good friend, Max Cleland, a young man who went to Vietnam as a volunteer. He had already completed his master's degree work in college. He didn't have to go, but he felt that he should serve our country. And he went to Vietnam. And in the combat zone, he got out of a helicopter one afternoon and, seeing a grenade lying nearby, threw himself upon it and lost his arm and both his legs and came back severely wounded.

He has overcome that handicap in a way that has never demanded sympathy. I have known Max Cleland for many years, and he manages his own affairs. He never asks for special consideration. He is a strong and forceful leader, and his responsibility will be to manage the complicated services to those in the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the World War--and, perhaps, even some of older wars than that--who are legitimately receiving special services from our Government because of their willingness to offer their lives, if necessary, to preserve our country and what it is.

I don't think we could have two more startling contrasts among young men, each deeply patriotic, each committed to preserving our Nation's character in their own special way, than Sam Brown and Max Cleland. I am very proud that Max Cleland will take over the administration of the Veterans Administration.

I'd also like to introduce to the group Evan Dobelle, a young man, I think, only 31 years old--all three of them are young. Evan is a very distinguished public servant in his own right. He was a special .assistant for Senator Brooke. He later worked in the environmental protection field in the State of Massachusetts. He was twice elected as mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He was a Republican and was converted about 2 years ago when I met him and his wife, Kit. And now he will be, in effect, the Ambassador of all the Ambassadors. He will be the Chief of Protocol of our country. He is the youngest man or woman who has ever served in this capacity.

Well, I think you all see that this is a new generation of leadership in dealing with crucial elements of our Nation--caring for those who have served, offering an opportunity for nongovernmental employees who want to serve, and dealing with foreign countries in the most sensitive interrelationships here in Washington.

And I am very deeply thankful for these young men who have shown their willingness to serve again. So to Max Cleland and to Sam Brown and to Evan Dobelle, I want to express my thanks and my congratulations.

Now we will have the oath of office administered.

Note: The President spoke at 2:03 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. Following his remarks, Chief Executive Clerk Robert D. Linder administered the oath of office.

Jimmy Carter, Swearing-In Ceremony Remarks at the Swearing In of the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, the Director of ACTION, and the Chief of Protocol. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242868

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