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Remarks at a Tribute to Bob Hope at the Kennedy Center

May 20, 1983

Just think, if you haven't heard it before, Bob Hope is 80 years old. Bob, can I call you ``pops''? [Laughter] You know, I just love it when he calls me ``kid.'' [Laughter]

We all know that Bob will stay eternally young. And, certainly, work keeps Bob young. We were up at the ranch. I was showing him some of the livestock, and I got called away to the phone. And when I came back, he was doing a monolog to the horses. [Laughter] And the horses were laughing. [Laughter]

Tonight, we are celebrating not only Bob's birthday but his anniversary. This is the 42d year that he and the USO have been serving those who faithfully serve us: the men and women in America's Armed Forces.

You know, there are some pleasures in being President. But one of the things that makes me proudest is our men and women in uniform. You've seen some of them here tonight. We have a number of ceremonies at the White House with honor guards and well-turned-out troops. And on such occasions, I look at them, and I find myself thinking of where these soldiers, sailors, and marines hail from: the cities, the small towns, and the farms all across this land. And I find there's something moving about that. I see them doing their part for our country, and I want to grab their hands and tell them how much the Nation appreciates their services -- tell how honored we are to have them defending us. You can't look at their faces and do anything but burst with pride in these young people. And that's why, as President, I'm trying to do all I can for them. And that's why Bob and the USO have done so much for over 40 years.

I want to thank the more than 40,000 USO volunteers who generously give of their time and of themselves. Thank you for reaching out to our men and women in uniform, letting them know that, even though they're far away from home, we think of them. And we care.

And now, on behalf of the Nation, let me say to the number one USO volunteer, happy birthday, Bob. And thanks for the memories.

Note: The President spoke at 8:10 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

As printed above, this item follows the text of the White House press release.