Remarks Congratulating the Eastern High School Choir


August 1, 1988


The President.  How do you say something when there's a lump as big as a tennis ball in your throat? You know, every morning they hand me a schedule that tells me where I'm supposed to be. Believe me, I've been looking forward to this all day. And seeing and hearing all of you beats a budget briefing any day. [Laughter]


Your talent is manifest; your brilliant performance in Europe was an inspiration to all of us. I don't need to tell you about the kind of world class competition you were up against or the fact that a good many of your competitors had plenty more resources behind them than you did. But you did have advantages: first, your talent; second, your commitment and determination -- you practiced endlessly, sometimes in Latin or German, and you raised the money for the trip yourselves; third, the wonderful people behind you -- and here I mean your parents, families, and friends; and most of all you had a secret weapon whose name was Joyce Garrett. And, Joyce, I know how proud you are of all these young people. But you know what? I have a feeling they're proud of you, too. Am I right on that?


Choir Members. Yes!


The President. Well, I know there are many others to thank. Maudine Cooper and all the friends of Eastern Choir did a wonderful job of helping all of you get to Europe.


Also Mel Bradley has sent me some newspaper clippings about you, and I think you've been saying some very important things. Your choir president, Fredericka Gordon, brought to life your international tour and that prize you won in Vienna: ``A lot of times before we even finished our song,'' she told the Post, ``they were up on their feet screaming. Sometimes you felt like saying, `Okay, okay, but wait till the song is over.''' [Laughter]


And I think Edward Love said something important, too, about what all this meant to you and to us. He said: ``It makes me very aware that as a person I can do something and share with other people. I know people who use and sell drugs, but I don't get caught up in that crowd. I want to look back and say, `I went to Europe and experienced great pleasure in singing songs and representing my country, my school.''' Well, that you did -- all of you. And all of us -- your families, friends, classmates, community, and country -- are proud of the tremendous job you did over there. You've competed against the best the world had to offer, and you came out ahead. And America takes pride in you today.


So, thank you again for brightening our day at the White House, and my warmest, best wishes to each of you for the future, and God bless you all.


Note: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks he referred to Joyce Garrett, director of the Eastern High School Choir of Washington, DC; Melvin L. Bradley, Special Assistant to the President for Policy Development; and choir member Edward Love. The choir placed second in the Vienna International Youth Music Festival.