[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[April 1, 1993]
[Pages 371-372]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 371]]

Remarks to Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, 
April 1, 1993

    Thank you very much, Admiral Lynch, men and women of the brigade. 
I'm delighted to be here. They say there's no such thing as a free 
lunch, but I thought as President I'd come here and test the theory.
    In a few moments I am going to deliver a speech, as Admiral Lynch 
has already said, to the newspaper editors of our country about our 
Nation's purposes in the world and specifically about what we should be 
doing now to promote democracy in Russia and in the other Republics of 
the former Soviet Union. The struggle to build free societies in those 
new nations is probably the great security challenge of our age, one of 
the greatest opportunities the United States will have. And how we do 
this job, in many ways, will shape the future that you will have in our 
Armed Forces.
    I believe we must do what we can to support the reform movement and 
to support democracy, a precious commodity anywhere in the world. And 
that is why my first trip out of the United States as President will be 
to Vancouver, Canada, this weekend to meet with the Russian President 
Boris Yeltsin.
    The success of the changes that he and the other reformers are 
advancing will ultimately have an impact on the life of every American 
but especially an impact on your lives. If Russia can continue to be a 
partner with us addressing global concerns and dousing the flames of 
regional crises, then it is less likely that you and the men and women 
under your command will have to be sent into harm's way during my term 
or under some future President.
    I respect the difficulty and the danger of the work that the men and 
women of our armed services perform. I understand that in a new way now, 
because last month I watched the flight operations on the deck of the 
United States ship Theodore Roosevelt. And I was deeply saddened a few 
days after I was there to learn that five naval aviators lost their 
lives returning to the TR from operations in support of our presence in 
the former Yugoslavia.
    The conflict in that region and those we see elsewhere remind us 
that we have entered a new world that will test us in new ways. Our Navy 
will play an important role in getting us past those tests, as it has 
throughout our history. To help the men and women in our Navy perform 
effectively and safely, we will need talented, committed leadership as 
never before.
    Leadership can take many forms. It can be command of a ship or a 
submarine, of an aviation squadron, or of a naval base. It can show 
itself in training commanders by teaching leadership to the next 
generation of midshipmen as your instructors are doing here at the 
Academy. Whatever form it takes, your leadership will make an important 
contribution not only to the Navy but to the security of our great 
Nation. This is a new and a hopeful world but also one where there is 
still danger. I want you to know that I'm proud of you and the work you 
do, and so is the Nation you have chosen to serve.
    Finally, although I'm sure this doesn't apply to any of you here, I 
read this little sign. As you might imagine as I travel around the 
country, I'm used to seeing such signs. [Laughter] Some of them are not 
altogether favorable. That's a good part of our democracy, that people 
feel free to express their views.
    One of the most compelling signs that I saw was on the way from the 
airport the other day in New York State to the home of President 
Franklin Roosevelt in Hyde Park. And there were hundreds of people 
standing along the road in 8 degree temperature, and one person was 
holding a sign that said, ``Just do something.'' So that's what I'm 
going to do.
    In the tradition followed by Commanders in Chief in visits to the 
service academy, I hereby grant amnesty to the members of the brigade--
the last thing the Superintendent said before I got up here was to 
finish the sentence so that it would not be a total and complete 
amnesty--from all punishments for all 4000-level conduct offenses. And 
even though this is April Fools' Day, that's not April fools.
    Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:03 p.m. in Bancroft Hall at the U.S. 
Naval Academy. In his re-

[[Page 372]]

marks, he referred to Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, USN, Superintendent of 
the U.S. Naval Academy.