June 14, 1983
Thank you, Jack Lyons, Peter Grace, and Len Silverfine.
Who could stand before this scene with Old Glory unfurled in all its majesty across the area of two football fields and not feel their heart fill with pride? This flag is a gift from the people to the people. It was made at painstaking effort, financed, as you've been told, by a coalition of workers and managers, corporations and individual givers. I commend members of the Washington, D.C., Labor Council who spent hours this morning carefully unfolding it for presentation and who have volunteered to set up this flag every Flag Day.
This giant flag is a testament to the unity and patriotism of our people and to the deep love and commitment we have for our country, our freedom, and our way of life. I'm reminded of a verse that I once read, written as if the flag were speaking to us now and for generations to come. It said, ``I am whatever you make me, nothing more. I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what a people may become. I am the day's work of the weakest man and the largest dream of the most daring. I am the clutch of an idea and the reasoned purpose of resolution. I am no more than you believe me to be, and I am all that you believe I can be. I am whatew r you make me, nothing more.''
If you look out at that grand flag stretched behind us, you can see what we think of ourselves, our country, and our future. That flag was made by and for men and women who still know how to dream great dreams and who still believe they can make their dreams come true. That giant banner was not created by a timid nation, but by a bold one. Not a stitch was sewn in confusion or doubt. We understand that those stars and stripes stand for freedom and the forces of good. We apologize to none for our ideals or our principles, nor the prosperity that we've made for ourselves and shared with the world. Let this grand flag forever be a symbol of the potential before us that free men and women can soar as high as their dreams and energy and ambitions will take them.
On behalf of all Americans, I would like to thank the Great American Flag Fund and all the men and women who've made this inspiring gift possible. I promise you your government will keep it and treasure it and use it as a reminder of the greatness that is America.
And, now, if you will all join me, I would like to lead you in the Pledge of Allegiance.
[The President led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.]
I have to go now. I am leaving in that whirlybird for the Volunteer State, Tennessee. So, I'm looking forward to it for one reason, too. At the very start of the trip, I will get to see that magnificent flag from above, from the air.
Thank you all very much. God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 11:02 a.m. on the South Lawn. In his opening remarks, he referred to John H. Lyons, general president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers of the AFL-CIO; J. Peter Grace, chairman and chief executive officer of W. R. Grace & Co.; and Len Silverfine, president of the Great American Flag Fund, Inc.
The 210-foot by 411-foot flag was laid out on the Ellipse, behind the White House, for the ceremony, as well as to mark Flag Day, 1983.