[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 8, 1998]
[Pages 729-731]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Community at Dover Air Force Base
May 8, 1998

    Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your wonderful remarks and your sterling leadership of 
the Department of Defense. To Governor Carper and 
Congressman Castle, Colonel 
Grieder, Colonel Keitel, Mayor Hutchinson; to the 
Secretary of Education, Dick Riley, who is 
here with me today; to all the members of the United States Air Force, 
their families, their friends, and thank you especially for bringing the 
children today. And I'd like to say a special word of thanks to the 
Dover High School Band for their welcome and their music. I don't know 
if the recruiting officer has been to see them, but they have sufficient 
enthusiasm to be in our military service. Great job.
    I am delighted to be here, back at Dover Air Force Base, home of the 
436th Military Airlift Wing and the 512th Reserve Wing, those of you who 
work around the clock to support and defend our freedom. I've already 
had a chance to be on the C-5 and speak with some of you individually. 
I'd like now to say a few words to all of you.
    Delaware calls itself ``Small Wonder.'' It's not too small, however, 
to have two leading United States Senators, Bill Roth and Joe Biden, who play 
very important roles in our national security, most recently in leading 
the struggle in the Senate to make Europe a safer place by guiding NATO 
and offering membership to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The 
people of Delaware can be very proud that they have two Senators playing 
a leading role in such an important national security area.
    And Delaware is not too small to house these mammoth C-5's to do so 
much of America's heavy lifting, not too small for a new 60,000-pound 
Tunner loader moving heavy cargo on and off the giant planes. I know 
it's hard for the logistics people here to wrestle with those pallets, 
but hopefully the new loader makes things just a little easier.
    Your efforts are essential. We live in a time of enormous promise, 
but you know from your own work that there is also a tremendous 
responsibility for the United States out there both to take advantage of 
the promise and to meet the challenges of the post-cold-war era.
    From Guatemala to Mozambique, from Bosnia and now to Ireland, peace 
is taking hold in countries and regions that have endured terrible 
violence. Revolutions in technology and

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communications are spurring enterprise and opportunity all across the 
globe. Today we saw that the unemployment rate in America has dropped to 
4.3 percent, the lowest since 1970. And that's good news for America.
    But one-third of our growth, one-third of the over 15.2 million jobs 
the American people have enjoyed--new jobs--since 1993, comes from our 
trading relations with other countries. Like it or not, our future and 
the future of every child in this audience today is bound up with our 
ability to maintain leadership for peace and freedom and security and 
opportunity throughout the world.
    In March, I was in Africa. I visited Uganda, not so long ago run by 
a brutal dictator, now a country with strong economic growth and a 
commitment to educating all its children. I was in Senegal, where 
American soldiers are working with African soldiers to establish new 
peacekeeping units run by Africans in Africa, to support their 
continent's security. I was in South Africa, where citizens are building 
a strong, multiracial democracy. And guess what? On my whole trip, you 
provided the transportation, you provided the helicopters, and you 
provided the communications. I thank you. The trip to Africa was good 
for America.
    Last month, I was in Chile, once ruled by terror, now a thriving 
open society, at the second Summit of the Americas, after the first one 
I convened in 1994 in Miami. Thirty-four of the thirty-five nations of 
the Americas are now democracies, and we plotted a common future in the 
area where our trade is growing the most and where freedom has taken 
deepest hold. And guess what? You provided my transportation and 
communication, and I thank you.
    In a few days I will leave for Europe, where the powerful yearning 
of the people for liberty has provided the chance not only to end the 
war in Bosnia, but through expanding NATO and making an agreement 
between NATO and Russia and NATO and Ukraine, we've now got the chance 
to build a Europe that is peaceful, undivided, and free for the first 
time in all of history. It will be a very important meeting, and if 
nothing happens to the chain of command, you're going to provide my 
transportation and communication, and I thank you for that.
    Because freedom is on the march and because of all the changes going 
on in the world, the 21st century in which these children will grow up 
will be America's greatest time, if we do our part to protect freedom 
and security, to stand for human rights, and to stand for our interests 
and our values around the world. For the world is still not free of 
dangers, not by a long shot.
    All of you know that, clearly. In fact, all of the openness, the 
communications revolution, what all you can find on the Internet, all of 
the things that have given so much opportunity in the world and brought 
us so much closer together have created a new vulnerability to the 
organized forces of destruction, to the terrorists, the organized 
criminals, the narcotraffickers. We still see the incredible power--the 
flaming power of religious, ethnic, and regional conflicts and hatreds. 
We know that not all of our democracies are solid. We know that natural 
disasters, environmental destruction, the spread of disease can cross 
national borders and threaten the lives and welfare of the American 
    In this environment, our leadership is more important than ever. In 
order to make the American people safe at home and give them all a 
brighter future, the United States must continue to lead in the world, 
and that means we need you more than ever.
    Here at Dover, you are leading the way. A strategic airlift capacity 
is crucial to our strategy of global engagement, and you are responsible 
for a full 25 percent of America's strategic airlift. You supply our 
troops in the Persian Gulf, and Saddam Hussein knows we're serious because our diplomacy is backed by 
the finest military in the world. We could not send them there and keep 
them there if you couldn't supply them.
    You led the way by helping to prevent the spread of weapons of mass 
destruction. Just 3 weeks ago, two of your C-5's and their crews secured 
dangerous nuclear material in the Republic of Georgia and transported it 
for safekeeping to the United Kingdom. The material could have posed a 
tremendous risk if it had come into the wrong hands. You made sure that 
it didn't. And now you know it's someplace safe, and we're all more 
secure because of it. I thank you for that.
    You supply our troops in Bosnia, where, with a remarkable lack of 
violence, we have been able to see the end of a conflict and the 
beginning of a peace taking hold. If our troops hadn't been there, the 
war would still be raging. They couldn't be there without you, and you 

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be very, very proud of helping to end the bloodiest conflict in Europe 
since the end of World War II. I hope you are.
    You lead the way in providing humanitarian relief to people in the 
former Soviet Union. When a ferocious typhoon struck Guam, you brought 
water and blankets and electricity to people there. When flooding 
destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the homes around Grand Forks, North 
Dakota, you brought relief and comfort to the victims there. For all 
that, for the many sacrifices you make, I want to say a profound thank 
    As most of you know, this Tunner loader that everybody talked to me 
about today is not called a Tunner because it lifts a lot of tons. It 
was named for the late General William Tunner, who commanded three 
historic airlifts: the airlift of supplies and personnel over the 
Himalayan Hump from India to China in World War II; the massive Berlin 
airlift in 1948 and '49, 277,000 flights that supplied food and fuel to 
the people of West Berlin during Stalin's blockade; and the Korean War 
Combat Cargo Command, which airdropped supplies to our troops trapped in 
North Korea. General Tunner said, ``We can carry anything, anywhere, 
    Now, next week, by coincidence, I will be in Germany to commemorate 
the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift. Like you, the people who 
were involved in that effort used airlifts to protect freedom. When the 
Soviet leaders finally abandoned the blockade, it might have been 
because they had witnessed our staggering capabilities to airlift 
supplies to the people in West Berlin. Perhaps it was because they read 
what General Tunner said about his supply line: ``We can keep pouring it 
on for 20 years if we have to.'' That kind of confidence I know 
invigorates the work you do here. I know you are ready for any challenge 
anytime, whenever America calls for your help.
    So let me just say this in closing. When your joints ache from 
muscling pallets, when you've stared at one load plan too many, when you 
fly all night through turbulent skies, when you're too far from home and 
you wonder sometimes what you are doing it for, please remember, in ways 
large and small, you are making a huge difference in making the world a 
better place for the children that share this roof with us today. 
Children all over the world have food to eat, clothes to wear, safe 
streets to walk, all because you at Dover make it happen. You deliver. 
You are essential to America's security. You make this a better country, 
and you make us all very proud.
    Thank you very much, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:25 p.m. in Hangar 706. In his remarks, he 
referred to Col. Felix Grieder, USAF, Commander, 436th Airlift Wing, and 
Col. Tom Keitel, USAFR, Acting Commander, 512th Airlift Wing.