Public Papers

Remarks to Religious and Ethnic Groups in Garfield, New Jersey


May I thank you, Governor Kean, for that warm welcome back. May I salute our assemblyman, Chuck Haytaian, our senate president, Don DiFrancesco, and our House candidate, Pat Roma. I'm delighted to see you all. May I ask that we pay our respects to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, the Archbishop of Washington, the Primate of the Church; and Archbishop Peter, Bishop Paul, Father Alex, and members of the Three Saints parish. Thank you for welcoming me and so many thousands of your neighbors in New Jersey. Good afternoon to Congresswoman Marge Roukema, that's out there somewhere, and the wonderful people in this audience that represent the rich diversity of New Jersey.

Your heritage is Cuban and Vietnamese and Jewish and Christian and Irish and African and Polish and Chinese and Armenian and so many, many others, and you're Americans all. You are Americans. Your spirit enriches our country, and it fuels the flame of freedom all over the world.

These gleaming church domes remind me of the skyline of a great city. Since my last trip to Moscow, the Russian people have toppled the idols of Soviet communism. They have begun renewing the Russian nation. And just consider the signs of the times: In Red Square this Easter, the gigantic picture of Lenin was gone, and in its place was a massive icon of the Risen Lord, a powerful symbol of the new birth of freedom for believers all around the world.

Today Germany is free and united. Ukraine is free and democratic. Poland is free. And the rollcall of freedom includes Hungary and Armenia, the Czech and Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, Byelarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and many, many more. At long last, the captive nations of the old Soviet empire are free.

But our work is not finished. In Asia, in Latin America, in other regions, some nations still suffer oppression. Some people are still struggling to be free. That's why, one of the reasons, I want your support to serve 4 more years as President, to complete the job of freedom around the world. We've got to use our energy, we've got to use our experience to solidify the historic changes that have given birth to these new democracies abroad and made us secure at home.

These events benefit every American. The free world's triumph in the cold war, brought about by the steadfast efforts of America, of the American people, of her allies, gives us a chance to establish for these kids here a lasting peace. The momentous arms agreement that I reached last month with President Yeltsin, this reduction with its sweeping cuts in nuclear weapons, will make us more secure than at any time since the dawn of the nuclear age. These kids can go to sleep without worrying about nuclear war because of the changes we have brought to this country.

Little more than 2 years ago, I welcomed to the White House Poland's then -- the first non-Communist prime minister since Stalin's conquest of Eastern Europe. This brave man, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, spoke some of the clearest and wisest words about the times we live in. He said, ``History is accelerating.'' And with those words, he foretold the fall of the Soviet empire.

This wave of history, this surge of hope is not confined to Europe. The Afghan people have won back their homeland. In Angola and in other African countries, people are digging out from under the rubble of tyranny. Mark my words: During my second term as President, the probability is high, it is very high that greater freedom will come to more than a billion people in Vietnam, in North Korea, and in China.

Closer to home, we also have more victories for freedom. The Castro dictatorship is on its last legs. Here's what I envision: Within the next 4 years, I will be the first President of the United States to set foot on the soil of a free and democratic Cuba, and that's good for all of us. I am determined to keep America the leader in the struggle for world freedom.

I am every bit as determined to protect the sources of our strength right here at home in the good old U.S.A. During the next 4 years, I'll keep helping American workers and entrepreneurs carry us to new heights of achievement. I will fight for the rights of American parents and American families. We must restore respect for the American family. The family is under siege. The choices in this election are clear: On one side, the advocates of the liberal agenda; on the other side are you and I and those values of family that we share.

They want to tighten the monopoly on our kids' education. I am fighting on your side, as Tom said, for parents' rights to choose their children's schools, public, private, or religious. And our ``GI bill'' for children gives middle- and low-income families more of the same choices of all schools that people with a lot of money already have. Two years ago, they tried to create a new bureaucracy, this one for child care. I won my fight to let parents choose their children's care, including church-based care. I will keep on fighting for that kind of choice for the American family.

They want public schools to hand out birth control pills and devices to teenaged kids. They believe it's no business of the parents and that it's strictly a matter between our children and the Government. They even encourage kids to hire lawyers and haul their parents into court. I believe kids need mothers and fathers, not Big Brother bureaucracy. The bond between the parent and the child is sacred, and it is fundamental.

The big government, liberal approach to welfare has failed. That's why, just yesterday, I enthusiastically approved New Jersey's request to try a new approach to make parents in the welfare system more responsible, to put parents back to work.

And I'm ready to fight 4 more years to protect the traditional rights of parents and families. Families are central to any civilization. More than a century ago, Dostoyevsky imagined a nightmare world, a place where an all-powerful state crushed the natural rights of individuals and families. ``And if God is dead,'' he wrote, ``then everything is permitted.''

Well, looking out over this magnificent audience, I can feel it: I know that your faith is alive, and family is the most important thing we have here on this Earth. And we take to heart the words of ``America the Beautiful'': ``Confirm thy soul in self-control...'' We know that the America we love, the America that's such a powerful beacon to the entire world, will not stay strong if the culture and the Government teach our kids that anything goes.

Think about it. If we can tear down the Berlin Wall, we can build a strong economy. If we can lift that Iron Curtain, we can bring the curtain down on immorality and indifference and lawlessness. If we can help people walk free through the streets of Europe, there's no reason we cannot take back our streets right here in our neighborhoods in the United States of America.

You know, being here reminds me that next month marks the first anniversary of that attempted coup in Moscow, of those fateful days in August when Russia's democratic future was laid on the line, when world peace hung in the balance. I'm sure each one of us has indelible memories of those days. I certainly do, and I am proud that we had the courage and the leadership to stand by Russia's democrats in their hour of need. I am grateful for what Boris Yeltsin said about American leadership and making it possible for democracy to come to Russia.

You know, earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Slava Rostropovich recount his memories at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He'd flown to Moscow at the first news of the coup, and he stood 3 days and nights with President Yeltsin and the defenders of freedom and democracy, protecting what the Russians call their White House. He told us that deep in the night the only sound was from the movement of the tank treads. And he said, ``The aura of faith was almost palpable. In that moment the salvation of us all and of the future of the country came only from God.''

My fellow Americans, we have the good fortune not to live in the shadow of machine guns and tanks. America will be safe so long as the United States of America stays strong, so long as we continue to lead around the world.

Let me repeat it: Barbara and I count it a great blessing that when your kids and our grandchildren go to bed at night they don't have the fear, that same kind of fear, that fear of nuclear threat that we faced until just a few months ago. This is momentous. This is important to the entire world. I am proud that our leadership brought it about.

Of course, we've got hard work ahead. We've got to keep our national security second to none. We've got to prove the pessimists wrong about America's ability to compete and to create jobs and to expand America, to expand opportunity for all. We must protect and renew our most precious resource, America's families.

Now, to meet these challenges, to lead the Nation, to fight on your side of the values we share -- put party politics aside -- but to fight on your share for these values, on your side, that's why I'm asking you to help me win another 4 years as President of the United States of America. I will not let you down. I will fight for the faith. I will fight for the American families. We are one Nation under God, and never forget it. We can overcome any problems we face.

Thank you. And may God bless this great country, the freest, the fairest, the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you all. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:22 p.m. at Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church. In his remarks, he referred to Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), Primate, Orthodox Church in America; Archbishop Peter (L'Huiller), Orthodox Diocese of New York and New Jersey; Bishop Paul (Ponomarev), Vicar Bishop of the Patriarch of Moscow and administrator of the U.S. patriarchal parishes; the Very Reverend Alexander Golubov, rector, Three Saints Church; and Mstislav Rostropovich, National Symphony Orchestra director.