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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2003
Remarks by the President at United States Reception
American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York
8:47 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Unless you don't have a chair. (Laughter.) For the sake of world harmony, I will give a short speech. (Laughter.) And then we can all go to bed. (Laughter.) First, I want to thank the American Museum of Natural History for their wonderful hospitality. We've got trustees here and the leadership of this fantastic place. It's such a wonderful opportunity for Laura and me and our delegation to show off one of the really fantastic landmarks of New York City. So, on behalf of our delegation, thanks for your wonderful hospitality. It's a beautiful place to have a wonderful reception. (Applause.)
Laura and I and the Secretary are honored to welcome the Presidents and Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers and U.N. ambassadors and anybody else who managed to sneak in tonight. (Laughter.) We're glad you're here. It's been a fantastic reception for us, and thank you for coming.
I really want to say quickly a word about Kofi Annan. I admire his decency and his vision and his compassion for our fellow human beings. He's a great leader of the United Nations and we're proud to call him friend. (Applause.)
Somebody whispered in my ear that Mayor Bloomberg is here -- he is the Mayor of New York City. (Applause.) Michael is the mayor of a great city. On September the 11th, this nation saw the remarkable spirit of the people who live in this city. We'll always remember how our fellow citizens who happen to be New Yorkers instantly rallied to help their neighbors in need. New York's famous skyline was wounded, but its spirit remained steadfast.
In pursuing the terrorists we honor the memory of the fallen, and we defend civilization itself. I want all the world leaders to remember that. In working to alleviate poverty, disease and human suffering, we spread hope to millions, and we undermine the ideologies of resentment and hate and terror. The United Nations plays a vital role in all these efforts, and all our nations have a duty to advance its founding principles of tolerance and freedom and human rights.
A wing of this building is named for Theodore Roosevelt. He was one of my predecessors. He was a warrior for peace who faced the world without illusions. And I want to quote what he said. He said, "If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill."
He was speaking for Americans, but his words are true of every people in the world today. We're meeting great issues of security and compassion, and we must, and we will, meet them well.
Welcome to New York. May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 8:51 P.M. EDT