[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[September 3, 1995]
[Pages 1287-1288]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a World War II Commemorative Service in Honolulu, Hawaii
September 3, 1995

    Thank you, Bishop, for your remarks, your service, your 
introduction. To all of the distinguished people who have participated 
in this magnificent program today, let me say that after Captain Lovell 
spoke and Colonel Washington sang and the Bishop made his remarks, I'm 
not sure there's much else to say. [Laughter] And I'm certain that the 
rest of us have been warmed by this ceremony beyond belief.
    But I do believe--I think there are two brief things that ought to 
be said. One is we ought to express our appreciation to this magnificent 
choir for the music they have given us today. [Applause] And secondly, 
inasmuch as this is the last of a long and magnificent series of events 
commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, I would 
like to ask General Mick Kicklighter and any other members of the World 
War II Commemorative Commission who are here to stand and receive our 
gratitude for a job very well done. [Applause]
    Let me ask you as we close what you believe people will say about 
World War II 100 or 200 or 300 years from today. I believe the lesson 
will be that people, when given a choice, will not choose to live under 
empire; that citizens, when given a choice, will not choose to live 
under dictators; that people, when given the opportunity to let the 
better angels of their natures rise to the top, will not embrace 
theories of political or racial or ethnic or religious superiority; that 
in the end, we know that Thomas Jefferson was right: God created us all 
equal, with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, 
and whatever differences there are among us, we have more in common.
    That was the ultimate lesson of the magnificent remarks that Captain 
Lovell made. And it better be the ultimate lesson we learn from the 
tragedy of World War II. As we move into the 21st century, as the world 
gets smaller and smaller, as the fragile resources we have that sustains 
life and permit progress have to be maintained and enhanced, we must 
remember that.
    That was a lesson that some people knew even in World War II. And 
I'd like to close with a reading from this little book, ``The Soldier's 
and Sailor's Prayer Book,'' that a lot of our veterans carried with them 
in battle in World War II. This is a prayer written by the famous 
American poet Stephen Vincent Benet that became known as the President's 
prayer because President Franklin Roosevelt prayed it on Flag Day, June 
14th, 1942. I hope this is what people remember as the lesson of World 
War II one and two hundred years from now:
      ``God of the free, grant us brotherhood and hope and union, not 
        only for the space of this bitter war but for the days to come, 
        which shall and must unite all the children of Earth. We are, 
        all of us, children of Earth. Grant us that simple knowledge. If 
        our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed. If they 
        hunger, then we hunger. If their freedom is taken away, our 
        freedom is not secure. Grant us the common faith that man shall 
        know bread and peace; that he shall know justice and 
        righteousness, freedom, and security; an equal opportunity and 
        an equal chance to do his best not only in our own land but 
        throughout the world. And in that faith, let us march toward the 
        clean world our hands can make.''
    Amen, and God bless America.

[[Page 1288]]

Note: The President spoke at 11:18 a.m. at the Waikiki Band Shell. In 
his remarks, he referred to Bishop James Matthew, World War II veteran 
and bishop of the United Methodist Church; Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., 
former astronaut; and Lt. Col. D.C. Washington, vocalist.