Public Papers

Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Take Pride in America Awards


Good to see you all. A few minutes late -- filling out the frequent flyer forms. [Laughter]

I'm delighted to be here, and let me just say at the outset of this, why, I'm just back from a fascinating trip to London and to Turkey and to Greece, and I think it was a good one. But now I'm back to the very important business at hand, and an opportunity to thank some people who have done a disproportionate amount for their country.

To Secretary Lujan, who's been such a driving force for voluntarism and public land stewardship, I salute you and thank you. And of course, to Linda Evans who's just taken so much interest in this Take Pride in America program, we're very, very grateful to her.

To Senator Conrad Burns over here, we salute him and thank him. And to all of you who have shown an interest in this, many from its very inception, thank you and welcome to the White House. And thank heavens we're doing it indoors instead of out. [Laughter]

You know, I know I speak for everybody that goes abroad, it is always nice to be back on home soil. What better way to come home after visiting distant lands than to recognize Americans who do take pride in America: our millions of acres of forests and parks, wildlife preserves, and beaches. The Take Pride in America campaign urges all Americans to help preserve this precious heritage for future generations.

Every day, everywhere in America, people are finding ways to make a difference. We call these Points of Light -- we refer to these people as Points of Light. And in your service to our shared environment, all of you who take pride in America do shine brightly and brilliantly.

Our dog Millie is doing her part. [Laughter] Last time I threw a stick out on the lawn and said, ``Fetch,'' she had me written up for littering out here. [Laughter]

The public resources that you've worked to preserve and protect -- the parks that you've adopted, the rivers you've cleaned and reclaimed, the children that you've taught -- these represent a legacy for future generations that every one of you works to serve.

This morning, 121 of you received well-earned recognition for your commitment and your achievements in promoting voluntary stewardship of our public lands. And I want to offer my congratulations, and my admiration and respect for each and every one of you.

This afternoon, among so many special groups, I can't begin to recognize all. But let me offer just two examples of what it means to ``Take Pride in America.'' Take Pat Mitchell. As a volunteer, she travels around the State of Alabama as ``Auntie Litter'' -- here she is, suited up for the occasion -- [laughter] -- ``and the Pollution Patrol'' -- teaching schools, churches, and other groups about the new three R's: refuse [reuse], reduce waste, and recycling. She's showing people many things that they can do to improve our environment. And thank you very much for what you are doing, Pat.

And the next is Rafael Munoz -- where is he? Right here. Here he is. This guy's of the Norris Square Park Patrol, a group working in one of the most deprived areas of Philadelphia. The 35 youngsters who make up this patrol, from 10 to 18 years old, work several hours each day cleaning the park, picking up and recycling broken glass, planting trees and flowers, and painting park benches. The patrols have discouraged vandals, and what was once a haven for crime and drugs has become a place where preschoolers can play without fear. Keep up the good work.

It's really unfair to single out anybody in this group, because each of the award winners here today have stories of equal accomplishment, equally worthy of recognition, who deserve to be emulated across our country.

You know, one of the previous Presidents, one of my predecessors, Calvin Coolidge, once said: ``No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.'' And so it is with all of you who eagerly and actively Take Pride in America. So, thank you all. I'm just delighted that this is my first event since returning to the good old U.S. of A. And now, I want to turn the program over to Secretary Lujan, who has two special awards to present, and Linda and I will be the spear carriers helping him out.

Note: The President Spoke at 4 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Linda Evans, spokesperson for the Take Pride in America program.