[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[May 31, 1995]
[Pages 773-774]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Community at Peterson Air Force Base in
Colorado Springs
May 31, 1995

    Thank you very much. It's wonderful to see all of you, all of the 
service personnel, all of your families, all the kids who are here. I 
thank you for coming. And I just want you to know I kept the rain away. 
They thanked me at the Air Force Academy, and I said, ``You know, when 
you're President, you get blamed for so many things you didn't do; it's 
okay to take credit for a thing or two you didn't do, either.'' 
[Laughter] But I'm very, very glad to be here, glad to see all of you. I 
want to thank Chief Master Sergeant Sue Turner for her introduction. If 
she were running for office, she'd get a lot of votes just on being 
brief, I think. [Laughter] And I thank her for what she said. I'm glad 
to be here with your Governor, Roy Romer, General Ashy, and others.
    Earlier this month--I want to say something serious, if I might, for 
a moment--our Nation lost six patriotic reservists of the 302d Airlift 
Wing based here at Peterson. Today, I, as their President, just want to 
remember them with my respects, my gratitude, my thanks. And I'd like to 
ask if we could all just have a brief moment of silence in their memory, 

[At this point, a moment of silence was observed.]

    Thank you very much.
    Like the Rockies, the men and women here of Peterson stand tall and 
strong and proud. You're always ready. You are the sentinels of our air 
sovereignty. You're the home base for our Space Command and for NORAD. 
You are our eyes in space.
    I did a couple of interviews yesterday with some Colorado 
newspapers, and one of them asked me if we still needed eyes in space 
since the cold war was over. And I said, the last time I checked we had 
more stuff up in space every day; I thought we needed more eyes, not 
fewer. I thank you for what you're doing.
    You have made America safer. You have made the world safer. And as 
we face the new challenges of the 21st century, you know as well as I do 
that the American military will continue to play a vital role, not only 
in the defense of our freedom and our security but also in advancing the 
cause of democracy and freedom throughout the world.
    We have seen painfully in the United States in the last several 
months, first at the World Trade Center and then at the awful incident 
at Oklahoma City, that our security can be threatened in a global 
economy with open borders and lots of personal freedom here at home as 
well as beyond our borders. We had those two terrorist incidents: One of 
them occurred from people I believe were deeply disturbed and way off 
track within our country; another occurred because this is a free 
country and people can come and go here, and people who bore us ill will 
and wanted to destroy a symbol of American democracy came into this 
country and set that bomb at the World Trade Center.
    I'm also happy to tell you that other sentinels of freedom working 
to thwart terrorism stopped two terrible incidents that were planned, 
one to blow up another bomb in New York and another that was designed to 
take some aircraft out of the air, flying out of the West Coast going 
over the Pacific.
    But we now know that the security threats we'll face in the future, 
rooted in terrorism and organized crime and drug trafficking, are 
closely tied to things the military has had to work on

[[Page 774]]

for years, trying to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass 
destruction, stand up to rogue states, and protect our security 
interests around the world. We're going to have to fight on all these 
fronts, and you're going to have to continue to be the best trained, 
best equipped, best motivated, most flexible military in the world for 
us to succeed.
    I am committed to making sure that you always are that and to doing 
whatever we have to do to improve the quality of life and the conditions 
of living, so that the best people in America want to be in the military 
and want to stay in the military.
    Since I have been President, I have twice had to go back to Congress 
to ask for large appropriations totaling over $35 billion to help to 
maintain our training, our readiness, and our quality of life. And this 
year I asked the Congress for a supplemental appropriation to cover 
contingencies in the Defense Department so we could fund a pay increase 
at the maximum legal level allowable and continue to make improvements 
in readiness and the quality of life. We are going to continue to do 
that. If you're committed to serving America, the people who make the 
decisions about investments in your future should be committed to making 
sure that you can serve and succeed, that you can have good families and 
a good life in the United States military. And we are very grateful to 
you for that.
    Let me say, what I most wanted to do was to have a chance to say 
thank you personally and to go down the row and shake hands with the 
children. And while I am very good at stopping the rain, I am not good 
at keeping it away forever. So I'm going to terminate my remarks with a 
heartfelt thank-you to all of you for your service to the United States.
    God bless you all, and thank you. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:50 p.m. on the flight line. In his 
remarks, he referred to Gen. Joseph W. Ashy, commander in chief, North 
American Aerospace Defense Command, commander in chief, U.S. Space 
Command, and commander, Air Force Space Command.