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Remarks to Representatives of Sister Cities International

March 27, 1981

The President. Greetings to all of you -- and I see it's [the rain] holding off. [Laughter]

Well, I am most pleased. I understand that I'm the honorary chairman now. Well, I'm very proud to be here with you who are on the board of directors of this wonderful, international cities program -- 702 American cities with -- some of them have got more than one sister, because there's 951 foreign cities in 77 nations, and it totals about 86 million people in population. But the greatest thing is, what an evidence it is on this, the 25th anniversary of this, that you've come that far and done that -- I'll have to start saying ``we'' now -- in 25 years. But what an evidence it is of what people in their home communities and at the local level can accomplish that I think should give all of us confidence that there aren't any problems we can't lick if we go at them that way. With the people doing it, we don't have to wait for someone to hand it down to us as an accomplished fact. And bless you all for what you're doing.

So, happy 25th.

Mayor Wilson.(Betty Wilson, mayor pro tem of Santa Fe Springs, California)

Thank you, Mr. President.

This is indeed an honor, Mr. President, for us to be here today and to thank you personally for accepting honorary membership in Sister Cities International. I just can't tell you how much this is going to mean to the thousands of people that volunteer their time and their money to help in spreading world understanding and peace. It's really going to be a big boost in our program. And you mentioned 700 cities. As a fellow Californian, I want you to know how proud I am that 166 of those are from California.

But this a great occasion and we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. We'll have the big celebration in August in Kansas City, Missouri. And on behalf of the board, I would like to invite you or a delegate to attend our conference.

The President. Well, I hope I can. I've learned in 66 days that I don't have an awful lot to say about where I go or what I do. [Laughter]

Mayor Wilson. Is it all right if I talk to Eve [Eve Baskowitz, Staff Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs]? [Laughter]

But we are very delighted, and we just can't thank you enough. And on behalf of the board, I would like to make a presentation. This is the ``Treasures of the Library of Congress.'' It's a limited edition. And it's presented to you on occasion of the 25th anniversary of this great program that was started by President Eisenhower, and I'm sure that he is looking down on us today and being very happy with what we have accomplished since he started this program.

The President. And he has every reason to be happy.

Mayor Wilson. And then from all of the thousands and thousands of people that are working in Sister Cities, this book on Eisenhower and his paintings in honor of your being our honorary chairman.

The President. Oh, thank you very much.

Mayor Wilson. And again, thank you so much.

The President. Thank you all. I've sometimes said, ``Now has come that moment.'' Sometime ago, a newspaper sent me a whole stack of letters from grade school children that had been asked to write to the newspapers what they would like to say to the President if they had a chance. And I was reading them, and I came to one from a 9-year-old girl. And she had some very good suggestions about inflation and unemployment and everything else. But she wound up with what now has to happen to me. She said, ``Now, get back to the Oval Office and go to work.'' [Laughter] So, I'll do that.

But bless you all again. And I'm very proud to have these, proud to have the honorary chairmanship that you've offered. And you're confirming with this a very deep-seated belief of mine. I have always believed that a lot of the problems in the world would disappear if people would start talking to each other instead of about each other.

Mayor Wilson. Thank you again, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:34 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.