Remarks at State of Utah Olympic Reception
Utah State Capitol
Salt Lake City, Utah
February 8, 2002
2:56 P.M. MST
Thank you. Well, Mike, thank you very much. That's a powerful introduction.
It must have been the choir. (Laughter.) It's such an honor to be here. Laura
and I have really been looking forward to this spectacular day. I want to thank
Mike for your efforts, your hard work to show really the very best of America
to the whole world. I want to thank Jackie as well -- Mike and I both married
above ourselves. (Laughter.)
It's an honor to be here with many distinguished citizens of our country, the
Utah congressional delegation, Senator Hatch and Senator Bennett, thank you
both for being here. We had the opportunity of flying down on Air Force One
together. These two men love Utah a lot.
I want to thank members of the congressional delegation, Congressmen Matheson,
Hanson, and Cannon, thank you all for being here as well.
I appreciate the Mayor. I also appreciate members of my Cabinet, Secretary of
State Colin Powell, members of one of the finest teams a President has ever
assembled have joined us. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
I want to thank Mitt Romney for being such a strong leader, for really kind
of willing these Games to go forward. I appreciate Jacques Rogge for being here
as well. Thank you, sir. It's my honor to have welcomed you to the -- one of
the greatest offices on the face of the earth, the Oval Office. I loved our
visit then. Thank you for coming. Thank you, Sandy, as well.
Kofi, it's great to see you, sir. The Secretary General of the United Nations
who does such a fine job of promoting peace and the world interests. (Applause.)
I've put together an official delegation to the Olympics, really fine people
-- a few reprobates with them. (Laughter.) Thank you all for coming.
I'm honored that my sister has joined the delegation as well. As you know, I
love my family a lot, and I love my little sister. She's my favorite one, even
though she's my only one. (Laughter.)
I want to thank all the citizens who have worked so hard to put these games
on. You know, as I flew into Salt Lake City, I saw such a majestic part of our
country, such a beautiful part of the American landscape. The state of Utah
is the perfect site for these Games. (Applause.) It's the perfect site because
of her beauty, it's the perfect site because of her people. It's the perfect
site because of the rich history of this state. From the early native Americans
who gave Utah its name, to the mountain men and later settlers who carved cities
and towns into this rugged landscape.
It was here in Utah that America was connected from east to west by the completion
of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. It is here today that the world is
united in Utah.
It's such an honor to host the Olympics in any year, but it is even more significant
in this year. Following the attacks of September the 11th, people from around
the world expressed their sympathy and their strong support for our country,
and for that we are grateful. They understand that America stands for a great
cause, and that is freedom. We love, we cherish, and we will defend freedom
at any cost. (Applause.)
This commitment to freedom is inscribed in our nation's founding documents.
The first of those documents, the Declaration of Independence, is right here
in Utah in the state capitol, and will be available for viewing throughout the
games. The Declaration is here thanks to a program created by Norman Lear. Norman
and I don't always agree on politics, but we agree that the Declaration of Independence
is fundamental to our nation.
And I want to thank Norman Lear for his vision of providing this document for
not only the people of the world to see, but for our fellow Americans to review
when they come to these great Games.
I hope people do come and read the document, because they'll understand why
we're so insistent upon defending our values. We defend liberty and freedom
for everyone, not just a few, not just people in Utah, but everybody who lives
in this country and everybody who lives around the world. These are rights we
hold self-evident, these are timeless ideals.
People may wonder if they don't understand America, well, why have we reacted
with such determination and patience and resolve? It's because we believe so
strongly in these ideals, liberty and freedom, and we know it is what will make
the world live in peace if we embrace those ideals without falter. (Applause.)
And the Olympics give the world a chance, in the midst of a difficult struggle,
to celebrate international peace and cooperation. America's athletes will compete
hard and I know will make us proud. But at the end of every event, the competitors
will join to honor the winners, no matter their nationality. And they will stand
at attention to honor the flags of many nations, which will be flying in pride
and flying in peace.
For centuries, the Olympics have reinforced an important lesson. It's an important
lesson for today. No matter how wide our political or cultural differences may
be, some things are valued and enjoyed the world over. All people appreciate
the discipline that produces excellence; the courage that overcomes difficult
odds; the character that creates champions. The feelings and emotions that drive
the Olympics are not expressed in any one language, they're expressed with tears
and smiles of joy and of pride.
The world has shed many tears -- tears of sorrow -- over the past five months.
It now gives the people of the United States and the state of Utah great pride
to host these Games, which will provide lasting memories of laughter and triumph
for people of every nation.
I want to thank you all. Thank you so very much on behalf of our nation for
bringing western hospitality to this global tradition. May God bless you all
and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)