Public Papers

Remarks at the National Drug Control Policy Luncheon


Bill, thank you. Thank you all. Well, I heard about this luncheon, and I have talked to Bill about your really heroic work. And I'd like to just say a word about his heroic work to start with, because I've never seen a fellow come in and take a tremendously difficult assignment like this, hit the ground running, and accomplish a great deal. And I think we all owe Bill Bennett a vote of thanks. He's out there in the trenches. He's in the boardrooms. He's everywhere. He's like Batman. [Laughter] So, thank you for all you're doing.

No, and I'm very sorry about the delays getting everybody in here. The good news, however: You don't have to show an ID to get out of this place. [Laughter] And I apologize for being a couple of minutes later than I had intended in coming over here.

But I'm glad to see that so many of you could come to Washington. I see Al Brooks and, of course, Erma -- having been and seen their projects I feel a kinship with them -- and really, indeed, with all the rest of you from what Bill has told me. In the past year, I have spent a lot of time praising those involved in service to others. And I'm grateful for this opportunity to salute you not only as what we call Points of Light but as also points of courage.

When I was in Kansas City, in the Baptist church basement where Al has his headquarters, there was a banner on the wall that asked a four-word question. It went like this: ``Is This Dream Possible?'' And when I look around this room and when I talk to the Director, I know the answer to that one. In this room are 28 folks who refused to surrender, 28 reasons why I really now believe, as Bill does, that we are going to win.

A few months ago, Bill Bennett wrote a booklet called ``Fighting Back.'' And many of you here were profiled in that piece. Almost every story was different. But almost every story began the same way. It began when one man or woman threw down the hat, took off the gloves, stepped forward, armed with the most powerful force known to man: the force of an idea. You fought back. You got involved. You made a difference, and you proved to America that this war can be won.

So, I think you are America's hometown heroes -- unconventional warriors, but this is an unconventional war. You've shown how the communities under siege can be united in a battle for life and how they can be restored to health and safety, doing it your way, on your turf.

It's sometimes hard to see with all these lights, but the ceiling here is decorated, and you can see it, with a field of golden stars. Just like real stars, we often forget to notice them. You are the stars in America's war on drugs. You shine through the dark, you give hope in the night. And we're here today really to say that someone noticed. Bill Bennett noticed. And I noticed. And I hope all of America will notice.

This used to be the Navy's library right here, and of course, stars have a special significance to those who navigate on the seas. And in this sense, stars like you do far more than fuel hopes and prayers. You are also beacons to thousands of other people, immovable lights by which they can chart their course to victory. So, I just wanted to stop by here to say thanks, to assure you that we're going to keep on fighting against drugs and fighting for you, for your neighborhoods, and most of all for the kids, the children out there. And we're going to remember the rallying cry of Chicago's Father George Clemens: ``There are more of us than there are of them.''

Congratulations and thank you all for what you're doing. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:39 p.m. in the Indian Treaty Room at the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Alvin L. Brooks, director of the Kansas City, MO, Human Relations Department and executive director and founder of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime; and Erma Scales, chairwoman of the Acres Homes War on Drugs Committee in Houston, TX.