Remarks on Arrival at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Remarks on Arrival at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

April 29, 1986 Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Reyes, Congressman Blaz, Archbishop Apuron, General and Mrs. Shuler, Admiral Hoffman, and ladies and gentlemen, Nancy and I are delighted to be able to join you once again in Guam, your enchanting home. By the way, if there's one inside word I can bring you from Washington, it's that your Congressman, Ben Blaz, is making quite a mark. Ben serves as president of the Republican freshman class in the Congress, and I hear again and again that he's earned wide respect as an expert on the Pacific and a man of vision and courage. Ben, congratulations.

My friends, your island represents one of the distinctive characteristics of the United States -- its ``Pacificness,'' the way in which America looks to the west and is bound up with the waters of this huge and peaceful ocean. From the first, it's been one of the chief goals of our administration to make our nation's policy look to the west -- just as surely as do our people -- to strengthen, in short, our ties with the nations of the Pacific. It's therefore fitting that this journey -- first to Indonesia, to meet with President Soeharto and the foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations, then to the Tokyo summit -- should be punctuated by a moment of rest on Guam. It's said that it's here on Guam each morning that the Sun first casts its rays upon the Stars and Stripes. Well, my friends, I can't think of a more beautiful way for America's day to begin.

Guam, America's flagship in the western Pacific, possesses an importance out of all proportion to its size. A vital hub of transportation, Guam lies within easy range of virtually every city in east Asia. And your practice of free enterprise is setting an important example for the entire Pacific Basin. I commend you, and your neighbors in the Northern Marianas, for the economic growth and low unemployment that you've achieved. Perhaps most important, in this crucial region of the world, Guam shines forth as a beacon of democracy. Indeed, the large number of Guamanians serving in the United States Armed Forces represents a tribute to the patriotism of this island, 9,000 miles from our Nation's Capital. My friends, distant from the mainland though you may be, you have kept the faith -- the faith in freedom that unites us all and gives our nation purpose.

In the days ahead, we'll be bearing this message of freedom. The foreign ministers that I will meet with in Indonesia represent nations that have each in large part embraced human liberty, both political and economic. And in recent years, the people of these nations have produced a remarkable record of economic growth. In meeting their foreign ministers, we'll reaffirm America's commitment to free markets and free trade. And we'll reassert our belief that in liberty we can work together to bring still greater prosperity to the Pacific, prosperity in which the people of the Asian nations and Guam, itself, should share. After our stay in Indonesia, Nancy will travel on her own to Malaysia and Thailand, where she will meet leaders working to combat drug abuse. The rest of us will fly directly to Tokyo, where we will participate in the 12th annual summit meeting of leaders from the industrialized democracies of Asia, Europe, and North America. Again, we will stress the connection, the necessary connection between freedom and economic growth; and we'll lay plans to expand world trade still further. As the site for this meeting, Tokyo itself will make a powerful statement about the expanding role of Pacific nations in the economy of the entire world.

But to return for a moment to this part of the world, to this beautiful island of Guam and your many island neighbors. Soon, four new democratic entities will join this Pacific family. One, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, will do so, like Guam, as part of the United States. Three others -- the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau -- will do so as new nations in free association with the United States. The people of these nations chose their new political arrangements in liberty, voting in elections carefully monitored by United Nations observers. Congress is at present considering the Compact of Free Association of the Republic of Palau, and I am confident that the necessary implementing measures will be promptly approved. And I don't very often say that about the Congress -- [laughter] -- with apologies to one present. [Laughter]

And a word to you, our men and women in uniform, those of you laboring here on Guam to keep our nation free and at peace. Many of you are thousands of miles from your own homes. And beautiful as Guam is, I know you must miss familiar sights and sounds and, above all, your families and friends. Yet you're willing to make that sacrifice, willing because you understand, or understood all along, what recent events have once again made clear. In the name of freedom, in the name of decency, we have no choice but to defend American values and the American people themselves -- and to do so unflinchingly. To use a phrase made famous by the Seabees, who have toiled so long here on Guam, we respond to this challenge with two words which say it all: ``Can do!'' As your Commander in Chief, I extend to you men and women in uniform the thanks of a grateful nation. I have to tell you that there are many things in this job I now have which you can be proud. But none of them makes me more proud than you, the men and women in the uniform of our military -- what you stand for and the way you stand for it.

Well, it's been wonderful to have this chance to talk with you, and I want you all to know how very much the warmth of your reception has meant to Nancy and me and our entire party here. And now it's time for me to go someplace and sit down while they put some more juice in the plane out there. [Laughter] But first, let me try out a fitting word of greeting in your beautiful language, Chamorro. I can't promise to get it just right, but I'll give it my best. And to all the people of Guam, hafa adai. Thank you all, and God bless you all.

I've got to tell a joke. I can't leave without one little joke. [Laughter] I have become a collector of jokes that I understand our friends in the Soviet Union tell among themselves, which is sort of revealing of their government and so forth. And this little story is one that I had the privilege of repeating or telling to General Secretary Gorbachev in Geneva. And he laughed. [Laughter] The story had to do with an American and a Russian who were arguing about their freedoms in the government and the American said: ``Look, I can walk in the Oval Office. I can pound the President's desk, and I can say, `Mr. President, I don't like the way you're running our country.''' And the Russian said, ``I can do that.'' The American said, ``You can?'' He says, ``Yes. I can go in the Kremlin. I can walk into the General Secretary's office. I can pound my fist on his desk, and I can say, `Mr. General Secretary, I don't like the way President Reagan's running his country.''' Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:12 p.m. He was greeted upon arrival at the base by Gov. Ricardo J. Bordallo and Mrs. Bordallo.