January 1, 1982
It is indeed an honor for me to be able to extend to all of you on behalf of the people of the United States best wishes for a Happy New Year. We look forward to the coming year as a time of opportunity. We hope and pray that good will and honesty will prevail and that mankind will be a little better for the things which we as individuals and as a nation will do in the year ahead.
This last year in the United States was a time of rededication to fundamental American economic and political concepts, as mandated by the people in the elections of 1980. After a period of increase in government power, the American people decided that the time had come to move away from state control and regulation; move toward something more consistent with our belief in freedom and individual liberty.
The United States in these last 12 months has been blessed with peace, and peace remains our goal. Our military strength is dedicated to this noble end.
Consistent with this, on November 18th and on behalf of the American people, I proposed to the Soviet Union a removal of the nuclear weapons threatening Europe. Negotiations between our two nations will continue this effort in the months ahead. The United States has offered a plan to eliminate all land-based, intermediate-range nuclear missiles on the European continent. We're urging the Soviet Union to join us in reaching that goal.
We take no joy in using our resources to produce weapons of war. During the last 10 years, the United States reduced the size of its Armed Forces and decreased its military spending. Sadly, this gesture was met by a massive buildup of Soviet armed forces. Let us hope the current opportunity for arms reduction is not lost. The Soviet Union should realize that its resources might better be spent on meeting the needs of its people, rather than producing instruments of destruction.
In 1981 senseless violence continued to plague the world. A great man in Egypt, a man of peace, was murdered. An attempt was made on the life of Pope John Paul, almost robbing the world of this sincere man of God. I, too, had occasion to realize that we must use what time we have to further those values which will last after we as individuals are gone.
A former President of the United States once said: ``The chief ideal of the American people is idealism . . . America is a nation of idealists.'' Well, that's as true today as when President Calvin Coolidge spoke those words back in 1925.
Americans remain dedicated to those concepts of liberty that have provided our people with freedom and abundance. Furthermore, we're a nation composed of people who have come here from every corner of the world, people of all races and creeds who have learned to live together in peace and prosperity. Perhaps you know someone or have relatives who now live here. Well, they're every bit as American as those who came here two centuries ago seeking freedom. In a very real sense all people who long for freedom are our fellow countrymen. That love of freedom is what brought us or our ancestors to this land.
Because of this special American character, our hearts go out to those who suffer oppression. Last year we saw the workers of Poland struggle to edge their country closer to freedom -- and instead, they were given bloodshed and oppression. We saw the courageous people of Afghanistan battle against tremendous odds trying to cast off foreign domination.
During my lifetime, I have seen the rise of fascism and communism. Both philosophies glorify the arbitrary power of the state. These ideologies held, at first, a certain fascination for some intellectuals. But both theories fail. Both deny those God-given liberties that are the inalienable right of each person on this planet; indeed they deny the existence of God. Because of this fundamental flaw, fascism has already been destroyed, and the bankruptcy of communism has been laid bare for all to see -- a system that is efficient in producing machines of war but cannot feed its people.
Americans begin this new year with a renewed commitment to our ideals and with confidence that the peace will be maintained and that freedom for all men will ultimately prevail. So, wherever you are, America sends to you a New Year's wish of good will. To all who yearn to breathe free, who long for a better life, we think of you; we pray for you; we're with you always.
Note: The President's remarks were filmed for broadcast on television by the United States International Communication Agency.