April 29, 1983

Thank you all very much for a very heartwarming welcome. I'm very proud and happy to be here. And, you know, I've seen some of the products and the things that you're doing here, and I might just buy some of that football equipment that I saw -- [laughter] -- and use it with the Congress -- [laughter] -- so long as you don't sell them any. [Laughter]

But I have to tell you the truth. I didn't hear about the wonderful work that Cenikor is doing all on my own. The idea of my being here is from Nancy, and maybe you've seen her -- big hazel eyes, slender, pretty. Well, Nancy heard about you when she was in Texas, and she recommended that I stop by. And I'm certainly glad that I did.

Now, many people say that you and I, you know, we might not have a great deal in common. We're different ages. As a matter of fact, I have lived about half again as long as my life expectancy when I was born. That's a source of annoyance to a number of people. [Laughter] But I think we'd be surprised to learn how much we do have in common. We believe in many of the same things, such as the opportunity, hard work, and self-confidence that work can bring. And it is beliefs that bind people together.

I also believe in the philosophy that Cenikor symbolizes. This center is self-sufficient, just like all of you will soon be. Cenikor receives no Federal money, and so no Federal strings come attached. And maybe you're not aware of how much of an advantage that can be. [Laughter] Even though I'm a part of the Federal Establishment, you know, sometimes there are two ways of doing things: the right way, and the way they do it in Washington. [Laughter]

I heard a tale -- I haven't tracked it down yet -- of a little community that decided they were going to raise their traffic and their street signs from 5 feet to 7 feet altitude; thought they'd be more visible to the drivers. And the Federal Government told them that they had a program to help in that sort of thing, but under their program, they lowered the street 2 feet. [Laughter]

But to be fair about it, on the Federal strings, let me mention something good that happened in Florida, Wednesday night, which is an example of what we're doing to prevent drugs from getting into this country.

A plane was coming up the west coast of Florida over the Gulf, that we had reason to believe was suspicious. A government plane, plus an Army Blackhawk helicopter, piloted by Customs people, were on its tail when it landed on a grassy strip near La Belle, Florida. The Blackhawk then landed. The two drug smugglers jumped from the plane to run away. In fact, one of them swam across the canal and hid in the bushes. The alligators didn't get him, but the enforcement people did, and we seized 625 pounds of cocaine, which I'm told has a conservative value of $187\1/2\ million. And I don't know how you feel about it, but -- well, I think I do -- but when I just stop to think of the little handful of misbegotten people that would have been getting that $187\1/2\ million, I'm delighted that somebody headed them off and that money -- Somebody from Houston, the Vice President, George Bush, is in charge of the Florida Task Force. Since last Saturday, 1,015 pounds of cocaine have been thwarted from entering the United States market.

Now, as you well know, interdicting drugs won't solve the drug problem, but it will at least frustrate the process. The real cure for drugs: prevention, plus what you're doing right here.

I was glancing through your Cenikor booklet, and I liked the very first sentence I read. ``In all the years that Cenikor has been in business rehabilitating lives, we have found that nothing works as well as work itself.'' Work is therapy. You feel better about yourself when you have something productive to do. And that's why I worry so much about today, so many Americans who don't have jobs. It's hard on them not only economically but psychologically. I also know the stresses that you here have been through and still are going through. I know what you're undertaking to put your lives in order, and it isn't easy. From what I've been told, you're learning again, or in some cases, for the first time, what self-confidence, pride, and respect mean to you personally. The words, I imagine, are becoming more and more frequent in your vocabulary.

Could I just stick something else in here from the vantage point of my age? It isn't true that I heard Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address -- [laughter] -- but I'm old enough to know something else: When we're young, we don't think, oh, bad things, accidents, and so forth can happen to us. And maybe we don't stop and think how important those years are for laying a foundation in this set of machinery that's the only one we get for the whole ride, this one.

And when you get along to where I am, you find out taking care of that machinery sure pays off when you get along to this stage, and you can still tie your own shoes and pull on your socks without sitting down -- [laughter] -- and do a lot of things that are much more enjoyable than that. [Laughter]

Sometime when the going is a little tough, just say to yourself, "I want to feel the same way I do now when I'm as old as that fellow was.'' [Laughter]

I didn't bring a full-fledged speech here, because I didn't want to be that formal. I just wanted to stop by and tell you how proud I am of what you're doing for yourselves.

I believe, as it said in that booklet, that the only limits to your achievement are those that are self-imposed. I believe in you and what each one of you can accomplish. You're working your way back, and I can tell you that all the rest of us are eagerly awaiting your return.

I won't be here for all your graduations from Cenikor, so just let me say right now to all of you, welcome back, and thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:18 p.m. in the cafeteria of the residential facility to the board of directors, residents, and staff of the foundation. Prior to his remarks, the President viewed a display of goods manufactured by the residents. He was accompanied on a tour of the center by Ken Barun, president of the Cenikor Foundation, a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.