Public Papers

Remarks at Olympic Flag Jam '92 in Atlanta, Georgia


Thank you all very much. Bill Hybl, thank you for that introduction; and to Lieutenant Governor Pierre Howard and Ambassador Andy Young and Robert Holder, IOC member Anita DeFrantz; entertainers, special entertainers, Dick Clark and Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight; and of course, Billy Payne, a Bulldog on the field, a bulldog for these Olympics. Sir, I salute you for what you've done for Atlanta and all America.

You know, it's been said that if the South begins anywhere, it begins in Atlanta. Let me speak for millions of Americans: If the 1996 Olympics begin anywhere, they begin in Atlanta tonight. Look at this wonderful new dome -- what a metaphor for this region's can-do spirit -- and this setting, thousands of Georgians, all members of the family called America. Look at this Olympic flag, a symbol of the kind of world we want where differences are solved peacefully, not violently. What a great night to be back in the heart of the South.

A little while ago Whitney Houston sang about a ``precious moment in time.'' And already you should be proud of some precious memories, for once again, the South has made the impossible possible. Skeptics said that no American city could impress the Olympic committee so soon after Los Angeles, but you did. Their trust means Atlanta will host the 100th anniversary of the Olympic games. Skeptics said you'd never win the games on your first attempt, no city ever had, but you did. In 1996 you'll host a record number of countries, the largest peacetime event of the 20th century.

The games are coming just as Americans are coming together. The capital of Georgia is about to become the sports capital of the entire world. As it does, let's remember past Olympics, for this event is like a tapestry, seamless, indivisible. And for me, tonight is like Yogi Berra says, ``Deja vu all over again.''

Last month I got to meet the 1992 summer Olympic team at the White House. And the team competed hard, as America always has, competed to win and did, as America always does. Think of it, in Barcelona we won 108 medals, the most ever since 1904 in a nonboycotted Olympics.

The games showed how the Olympics have changed the world, changed the world for the better, athletically as well as economically. They occurred without boycotts, without terrorism, without politics, and that is as it should be.

Carl Sandburg once wrote, ``The Republic is a dream. Nothing happens unless first a dream.'' With us tonight are the people who this year made dreams a reality. They showed how the Olympics are not just poetry in motion but history in action; athletes, heroes who made us proud to be Americans and made America proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, and I am proud to present, the United States Olympic athletes.

Note: The President spoke at 8:07 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. In his remarks, he referred to William J. Hybl, president, U.S. Olympic Committee; and Robert Holder and Billy Payne, cochairman and chairman, Atlanta Committee for Olympic Games.