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 Home > News & Policies > July 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 21, 2008

President Bush Holds Social Dinner in Honor of United States Past and Present Olympians
East Room

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7:31 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, Laura and I are thrilled to have you here. Welcome to the East Room of the White House. Chairman Ueberroth; Mr. Secretary -- the Veterans Affairs Secretary Peake; member of the Congress; members of the 2008 United States Olympic and Paralympic teams; Mayor of Chicago, who will be hosting the 2016 Olympics. (Applause.) Ambassadors; supporters of the Olympics; distinguished guests: We're really glad you're here.

I also do want to recognize Seldom Scene. They're the bluegrass band that will be playing after dinner in the Rose Garden.

In a few weeks, the athletes here and others will participate in one of the greatest traditions in the world of sports. You're going to travel halfway around the globe, you'll step onto the field of competition, and you will represent the United States of America at the 2008 Olympics. And we're really excited. (Applause.) And not only are we excited, but people who have worn the USA uniform before are excited with you. And we welcome all the previous Olympians who are with us today, and I want to thank you for coming.

And you're not going to be alone in Beijing because you're going to be accompanied by the hopes and pride of millions of Americans. There's going to be a lot of folks in Beijing to watch you, including Laura and me. And I cannot wait to cheer you on. All the room have devoted years to training and preparation. You've developed the self-discipline that defines a champion. And you've proven yourself worthy of representing the nation.

The tradition you're carrying on is long and it is noble. It turns out when the first American Olympians traveled to the 1896 games in Athens, Grover Cleveland lived here in the house. The Oval Office had yet to be built. In those 112 years that have passed, we have been reminded time and again that the Olympics are not just a chance to celebrate our greatest athletes; they're an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the human spirit.

We were reminded of this truth in 1936, when Jesse Owens won four Gold Medals at the Berlin Olympics; reminded of the truth in 1972, when 80,000 spectators filled Munich's Olympic Stadium to honor 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by a cowardly act of terrorism; and we were reminded of this truth in 2002, when a tattered American flag recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center entered the Olympic Stadium in Salt Lake City, and displayed to the world the resolve and resilience of our country.

Those of you who will be competing in this years games in Beijing are continuing a proud tradition of athletic excellence, and a proud tradition of representing our country with honor and dignity.

We wish you luck. We wish you endurance. And we wish you victory. (Applause.) And before I ask Peter Ueberroth to join us, I would like to propose a toast to the Olympic athletes, past and present, and to the United States of America.

(A toast is offered.)

END 7:36 P.M. EDT