Remarks at a Polish Festival in Doylestown, Pennsylvania

September 9, 1984

The President. Cardinal Krol, thank you very much. Governor Thornburgh, Senator Arlen Specter, Congressman Larry Coughlin, two candidates for Congress, Elise du Pont and Dave -- I can't read my own writing here, Dave. [Laughter]

Audience member. Dave Christian.

The President. That's right. You know. Okay. All right.

And to all of you, dzien dobry [good day].

Well, since my childhood I was always told about the luck of the Irish. And after the Illinois lottery, that phrase is bound to be changed a bit -- [laughter] -- the luck of the Polish. Now, that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

I think we're all winners because we have the great good fortune to be living in the United States of America. And I think we're all winners because we have the great fortune to be living in the United States of America. And I have the delight of being back in the great State of Pennsylvania.

I realize that I repeated myself when I said something there, but if I had to say something twice, I don't know of anything more important to say than about the pleasure of living in the United States of America.

When Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 States, little did I realize at the time that someday there would be 50. [Laughter]

This has been a most inspiring day. This shrine with its magnificent stained glass stands out not only as a monument to the heart and soul of Polish America but as a tribute to the cause of human freedom itself. And those who chose the location for this shrine did their job well.

Not far from here, our Declaration of Independence was penned and our liberty proclaimed. Not far from here, General George Washington and his ragtag army, many of the soldiers without shoes, endured a winter of despair. And it was in that time of darkness for America when giants in the cause of human liberty stepped forward and helped turn the tide.

Etched in the stained-glass windows of this shrine are the images of Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko. These heroes from faraway Poland helped spark a flame of liberty that still burns white hot in the soul of all who cherish freedom. And from what I'm seeing today, that is especially true of the Americans of Polish descent.

I just had the opportunity of visiting the memorial to that great Polish statesman, composer, and pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski. He saw in the eyes of Polish immigrants a great love of freedom. ``. . . wherever peoples gather,'' he said, ``. . . to crown a hero with the laurels of liberty, there you can boldly take the leading place because you are Poles.''

Well, I was honored to welcome such people to lunch at the White House just a few weeks ago, the veterans of the Polish Home Army. Their valor in the struggle against Nazi oppression has never been surpassed in the annals of human conflict. I was more than a little in awe of them. And I'm proud that after 40 years, the proper tribute has finally been paid to the commanders of the Polish Home Army.

Those who believe that they have crushed the Polish spirit with guns and brute force are wrong. They should remember the Polish Home Army and remember that lesson of history: Poland may be temporarily subdued, but the Polish people will never be defeated.

It wasn't that long ago when a new force for freedom emerged in Poland, the Solidarity union movement. And 4 years ago, when I kicked off my campaign, I was joined on the platform in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty by the stepfather of Lech Walesa, a working man with strong arms who emigrated to this country and could speak to us only through an interpreter. He's passed away, I'm sad to say, since that day. But his son lives on, and no matter how they try to suppress it, so does the spirit of Solidarity.

We Americans have a natural sympathy for those who suffer under the oppressor's boot in Poland. We see in the Polish people a mirror image of our own commitment to the simple virtues of honesty and hard work. The millions of Polish immigrants who came to America -- many were your own fathers and mothers -- these brave and sturdy people helped shape the American character. Their energy, sweat, and muscle built our factories; their moral strength is part of our national backbone.

We Americans who are not related to Poland by blood are related to her by spirit. Just as Polish immigrants decades ago bolstered America's resolve to live up to its ideals, so, too, a brave son of Poland now inspires all of mankind. The world is truly blessed that in this time of peril and confusion a spiritual leader of great historical significance is with us. We've sought his advice and guidance on numerous occasions, and I can only say, thank God for Pope John Paul II.

You know, when I was in the chapel earlier I could sense the love and pride that went into the re-creation of the Black Madonna. And I'm told that as a symbol of the brave Polish peoples' religious faith and freedom, Our Lady has been a special inspiration to the Holy Father.

During our modern times when tyranny darkens much of the world, it is fitting that the Pope should find strength and solace from the Lady enshrined on the Hill of Light. Pope John Paul has said, ``Freedom is given to man by God as a measure of his dignity.'' And ``as children of God,'' he said, ``we cannot be slaves.''

I have to interject something here. I have seen held up several times back there a banner with regard to Yalta. There is one thing about that that I have to say. Let us not be tempted into giving Yalta as coverage to those who have violated that agreement; that the agreement never gave them the power to dominate the countries of Eastern Europe and Poland as they have.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right. All right. [Laughter]

Our country's days of apologizing are over. America is standing tall again, and don't let anyone tell you we're any less dedicated to peace because we want a strong America.

I've known four wars -- four wars -- in my lifetime, and not one of them came about because we were too strong. Weakness is the greatest enemy of peace. We're trying to build a future for our children that is free, prosperous, and secure -- a future of boundless hope and opportunity. And we're not doing this by wishful thinking in foreign affairs or by going back to economic policies that failed.

Our new beginning is a far cry from the defeatism, decline, and despair of only 4 years ago. We were then on the edge of an economic disaster. Today we're in one of the most powerful economic expansions in 40 years. More than 6 million people have found work in the last 20 months. Our European allies are calling this the American miracle. Small business incorporations are at a record high. Productivity is robust again, with research and development paving the way for an even brighter tomorrow. And, my friends, I said this the other day, and it's worth keeping on saying: You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right. All right.

While all this is happening, inflation has been knocked down from 12.4 to 4.1 percent. And, you know, when I hear some people talking about fairness, I'm reminded of the misery index they devised by adding the inflation and unemployment rates. But when they were in charge, the misery index was over 20. Today it's 11.6, and we'll bring it down more if they'll just stand aside and get out of the way.

Now, I know that some would never give us any credit and, frankly, the credit doesn't belong to us. It belongs to you, the people. Our victory against inflation, the wonderful resurgence of growth -- these are your victories; they're America's victories. If I could just offer a little friendly advice for our critics: next time, rather than say things that seem to run down America, how about giving the American people a pat on the back?

You in the Keystone State certainly deserve a pat on the back. You're aiming high, striving to make Pennsylvania's economy strong and competitive for the future. And I happen to believe you're blessed with one of the best Governors in our nation today -- Dick Thornburgh. Dick has a great gift of being able to pull together the many strengths and resources of your people.

Your Governor's Ben Franklin Partnership Program is a model for America. You can be proud that your State government, the business community, and many of your fine universities -- like the University City Science Center, Pennsylvania, Penn State, Lehigh, Bucknell, Lafayette, Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh, and others -- are working in harmony to spark technological growth and create secure jobs for the future. You can be proud that Pennsylvania is leading the way and showing it can be done.

And what you're seeing in America is a fundamental change in the direction of our country. No longer is an ever increasing share of your earnings being drained off into the Federal coffers. Today more of your earnings are staying with your families in your neighborhoods in your State, right where they belong.

Now, we've got challenges to overcome, but we won't overcome our problems by going back to the days when the Federal Government was taking more and more, knocking the economy right off its feet in the process. Raising taxes is an old answer. Some say it's the only answer. I say it's the wrong answer.

You know, I hate to say this, but I'm afraid the age factor may play a part in this election: Our opponents ideas are too old.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right. I won't fight it. [Laughter]

But you know, I hate to say this, but they also seem to treat each new idea the old-fashioned way -- they reject it.

We're breaking new ground. And we must have the courage to keep moving forward with an historic simplification of the tax system. We intend to make the tax system more fair, easier to understand, so we can bring yours and everybody's income tax rates further down, not up.

Now, a certain candidate for national office said the other day that the biggest difference between us is our policies toward people of average means. And he's right. With our tax program, a family of average means today is paying $900 a year less in income taxes than if that candidate's last tax program were still in place.

And what about the future? Just to pay for the spending promises he made will require a tax increase of almost $2,000 for every household. Now, somehow I think that working families will see more fairness in our plan -- lower tax rates for all -- so that we can have more jobs, more growth, and more opportunity for all the people of Pennsylvania.

We want to build a fire of hope that links all America together, because with all of us going forward together we can build an American opportunity society that gives every person an equal chance and a much greater chance to pursue the American dream.

I think we should take our cue from our Olympic athletes. Let's go for growth and go for the gold. There's a world of opportunity ahead if we can only break away from the logjam of the past. Enterprise zone legislation is a good example. It's been blocked by the old-line leadership of the House for almost 2 years. Yet this innovative idea would channel the vitality of the private sector to the depressed areas of our country where people need it the most.

Now, I know this is not an exclusively partisan event, but after nearly 30 years of control, isn't it time for some fresh leadership in the House of Representatives? [Applause] And we can start by electing Dave Christian to the Congress.

Audience. Run, Christian, run!

Mr. Christian. Thank you.

The President. All right. [Laughter] Okay. Thank you. And, Elise, we won't leave you out either. We need new voices there, so you have a candidate to send down there. And let's just return Larry Coughlin, who's doing a fine job.

A spirit of renewal and hope is alive again, and it will not be deterred by appeals to envy that would turn us against ourselves and take us back to the days of defeat and self-doubt. I do not believe in an America divided by envy, each of us challenging the other's success. I believe in an America inspired by opportunity, each of us challenging the best in ourselves.

The new patriotism is a positive force that unites us and draws us together -- all of us -- from every race, religion, and ethnic background. It gives us confidence because it's based on enduring values which we hold so dear -- the dignity of work, respect for family, faith in a loving God, a belief in peace through strength, and a commitment to protect the freedom which is our legacy as Americans.

Now, I believe that by changing our country these past 3\1/2\ years we've been making it a better country -- a country of greater freedom, opportunity, confidence, and hope. And that's the America I'm working for this year, and that's the America I mean to work for in the next 4 years.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Well, to all those Democrats who have been loyal to the party of F.D.R., Harry Truman, and J.F.K., but who believe that its current leaders have changed it -- that they no longer stand firmly for America's responsibilities in the world; that they no longer protect the working people of this country -- we say to them, ``You are not abandoned, our arms are open, join us. Come walk with us down the new path of hope and opportunity.''

Just over 300 years ago, William Penn and a hearty band of settlers came here to establish a land of tolerance and liberty, a place where everyone, no matter what faith, could come to pray, to work, to achieve, and to build a great country. And we still believe in those things.

Sometimes on television at the White House I see ads encouraging people to vacation here saying, ``You've got a friend in Pennsylvania.'' Well, after meeting you today, I feel I have a friend in Pennsylvania. And I want you to know that Pennsylvania has a friend in the White House.

Thank you all, and God bless you. But now I have a little surprise. Father Lucius?

Almost all the turmoil in Poland -- amidst all of that, a brave woman made her way to the American Embassy under the watchful eye of martial law to deliver a special gift. And the care and love taken in making this tapestry reflects, I think, the depth of affection between our two peoples. It's the kind of treasure one places in a prominent place in the security of a home. There's a message to all of us in every stitch, and that message is, ``Please don't forget us, because we're part of the same family.''

Now, for those of you who can't see it, the tapestry has the image of the Black Madonna with Child, flanked on one side by the seal of Poland and on the other by the seal of the United States. And underneath the American eagle, she was careful to stitch very carefully, so the words, ``In God We Trust'' are very recognizable. And I think she was telling us that the people of Poland share that trust.

And she sent this as a gift to the people of the United States. And I can think of no more fitting place for it to reside than in this shrine, which is such an important symbol of the ties between our countries, and I am proud to present it to you at this time.

Thank you all again. God bless you.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

Father Lucius. Mr. President, I would like to present to you from the Pauline Fathers and the Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa three medals.

One medal is 600th anniversary of our Lady of Czestochowa, which we celebrated in 1982. The Pauline Fathers are custodian of this beautiful shrine in Poland for 600 years, so that the commemorative medal.

Second one is the medal, commemoration of 300th anniversary of Vienna -- defense of Vienna, Polish nation, and our King Sobieski. He defended Christianity because Pope asked him, and Pope said that Poland is always felt faithful -- Polona semper fidelis.

And another is 40th anniversary of uprising in Warsaw. Beautiful medals, and we will be very honored if you keep in the White House. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Oh, I will, and I'll be honored to have them. Thank you very much. I'm very honored to have those. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:47 p.m. near the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The Polish festival is an annual event sponsored by the Society of Shrine Volunteers. While at the festival, the President visited the chapel and placed a wreath at the Paderewski Monument.

Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.