[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 12, 1998]
[Pages 218-219]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Message on the Observance of Presidents' Day, 1998
February 12, 1998

    Warm greetings to all Americans as we observe Presidents' Day, 1998.
    On this day we remember with pride the history of the American 
Presidency and the achievements of the many extraordinary leaders who 
have guided our nation's course over the past two centuries. Each 
President in his own time has faced unique challenges in striving to 
fulfill the purpose of our Constitution ``to form a more perfect 
    For George Washington, that challenge meant sustaining and 
strengthening the fragile Union he had helped to establish. During the 
eight years of his Presidency, he carried out the awesome 
responsibilities of his office with such care and wisdom that he 
confirmed the trust of his fellow Americans and proved to a watching 
world that our new republic would survive and flourish.
    Abraham Lincoln's great challenge was to preserve the Union. Taking 
the oath of office after seven states had already seceded, President 
Lincoln resolved to keep our country united, even at the cost of civil 
war. With courage and tenacity, he led America through four years of 
bloody conflict and, in victory, reached out to begin the healing that 
would bring us together again as one nation. ``With malice toward 
none,'' he said less than two months before his death, ``with charity 
for all . . . let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up 
the nation's wounds . . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just 
and lasting peace . . . .''
    Today we face our own challenge to build a more perfect Union, a 
Union that must now be forged from one of history's most racially and 
culturally diverse societies. We can do so by widening the circle of 
opportunity for all our people: opportunity for a good education, 
opportunity for good jobs, opportunity to reach our own great potential. 
If we do so, we will

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keep faith with these great leaders whose memory we honor today and 
enter the 21st century with our Union stronger than ever.
    Best wishes for a memorable observance.

                                                            Bill Clinton