Reagan On Columbus: "Columbus Challenged The Unknown When He Sailed Westward In 1492"
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Earlier, by Peter Brimelow: In Memoriam: Ronald W. Reagan

Pat Buchanan's column today notes that a Baltimore Little Italy statue of Christopher Columbus that was thrown in the Inner Harbor, was originally dedicated by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Here are his remarks that day.

October 8, 1984

Thank you. Thank you very much. And thank you, Mayor Schaefer, Commissioner Battaglia, members of the committee, and distinguished guests.

I'm pleased to be here in "Little Italy” with you to honor a man who reminds all Americans that we must always strive for the best, to push to the limits and beyond.

Americans of Italian descent have given a great deal to this country. Their contribution began 492 years ago when Christopher Columbus, the son of a Genoa weaver, set forth on a voyage of discovery that changed the world. The ideals which many successive Italian immigrants brought with them are at the very heart of America. I'm speaking of hard work, love of family, patriotism, and respect for God. [Applause] Thank you.

Columbus challenged the unknown when he sailed westward in 1492. He was a man of vision who saw an opportunity, set down a plan, and then worked diligently to carry it forth. Contrary to what you may have heard in the last 24 hours, I do have a plan. I'd like to think that we're continuing on that initial course of discovery that he set for us so many years ago. We turned a vast wilderness, the most undeveloped land imaginable, into an economic dynamo, because we encouraged individuals with dreams to make those dreams come alive.

Looking out over the Inner Harbor, all that you've accomplished here in recent years, I know that's the kind of spirit that you have in Baltimore. You haven't been afraid to aim high, to chart a new course, and to change the future. You weren't satisfied to sit and wait or to be put off by those who kept discouraging you with all the reasons why you shouldn't go forward. With an eye for excellence, your architects and landscape designers, your contractors and working people have set out to create a place of commerce and beauty. Well, I think all of you can be proud of what you've accomplished.

The optimism I sense here, this optimism is something I've felt all over this country. America has quit listening to the gloom-and-doomers. We've left self-doubt and pessimism aside. We've reclaimed our heritage, personified by individuals like Christopher Columbus.

America has always been a vision of opportunity, a place where an individual could, with hard work, go as far as his own talents or her own talents would take them. And a few years ago, there were those who said that this vision of opportunity and freedom was dead, that we were a nation in decline, that we should lower our expectations. Murderous inflation and economic stagnation were the order of the day.

Well, last night I thought back to another night 4 years ago when I came to Baltimore for the first debate of the fall campaign. Well, as demonstrated in yesterday's debate, the central issue in this election is whether we're going to keep moving forward or go back.

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

The President. All right. Thank you. Thank you very much.

America, like Baltimore, has made a new beginning, and we aren't going back. The American people are enjoying the fruits of economic expansion and low inflation. They put this country back together and have a right to feel good about what they've accomplished.

Baltimore's own H.L. Mencken had a description of Puritans which reminds me a bit of certain pessimists who can't bring themselves to admit America is back on the right track. Mencken said they have  ". . . the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” [Laughter]

Well, those who have never broken free from the mentality of tax-and-tax and spend-and-spend still think increasing taxes is the best way to solve America's problems.

Audience. No!

The President. We need a tax policy that offers incentives for people to work, save, and invest—all the things that will keep our economy growing and improve our well-being. We need a basic tax reform that will permit us to bring everybody's tax rates down.

And if we're to have progress, we must be willing to break from the past and use forward-looking, innovative ideas. One such idea is designating depressed areas of our country as enterprise zones—to encourage investment and to channel the strength of our free enterprise system to those areas and to those people who need it most.

Baltimore's Mayor Schaefer, who took me on a tour of your renewal areas 2 years ago, has been a strong supporter of this concept. For more than 2 years, we've been trying to get Federal enterprise zone legislation enacted, but the liberals who control the House of Representatives have bottled it up. Instead of focusing on raising taxes, I hope those who keep trying to impress us all with their use of the word ``compassion” would help us free up the enterprise zone bill that is now tied up in the House.

Let's quit talking taxation and start providing jobs and opportunity to people who need new hope. The old welfare state didn't work; America needs new approaches. We don't need the failed Federal programs that create dependency and leave people in despair. Last year we replaced the old liberal CETA program with a Job Training Partnership Act. During its 9 years, CETA cost the taxpayers nearly $60 billion—$10 billion in 1979 alone. Only 18 cents out of every one of those dollars actually went to training, and only about one-third of the enrollees landed jobs.

Well, in our new program, overall costs have been reduced, and 70 percent of the money goes directly to training. And working with the private sector, we've provided tens of thousands of the hardcore unemployed with the skills they need to find and keep a job. And during the first 6 months of this program, which ended in March, 70 percent of those enrolled found jobs. The way to a better life for the less fortunate is not found in raising taxes and increasing spending. I say the best program to help those struggling to improve their lot is a meaningful, productive job.

And over 6 million new jobs have been created in the 21 months since the recovery started. In Europe they called it the ``American miracle.” Well, it's no miracle. It's not due to an uncontrollable cycle. It's due to our return to sensible and responsible Federal tax and spending policies, policies that encourage economic growth.

Our country needs leadership that can see beyond the demands of the special interest groups and prepare America for a better tomorrow.

I know there is an issue which the people of Baltimore are particularly concerned about, and it's a concern that I share. We've taken steps, with the strong support of your Senator Mac Mathias, to make certain that the new—or the next generation has a healthy and thriving Chesapeake Bay. It's a national treasure, and we're not going to lose it.

Helen Bentley, a former Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, has been very supportive of our efforts. She's also been in the forefront of the fight to see to it that Baltimore's Harbor is dredged. Well, Helen, thanks to you for all that you've done.

Representative Marjorie Holt is with us today. She is a strong voice for responsible government, and you can be proud of the job that she's doing in Washington.

What we're all working for is a strong, united, prosperous, and free America—the kind of country that God intended the United States to be.

When Columbus discovered America, he set in force a motion mightier than the world had ever known. People came here from every corner of the planet to be free and to improve their lot and that of their family. Well, we got off course a few years ago, but now we've set the good ship Columbia back sailing in the right direction. And I thank you for letting me be here to help you honor the man who started it all, Christopher Columbus.

Audience. Thank you!

The President. So, good luck, and God bless you, and God bless this precious land of ours found by Christopher Columbus. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

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

The President. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:56 p.m. at President Street and Eastern Avenue, the gateway to ``Little Italy,” the heart of Baltimore's Italian-American community. The statue was dedicated to the city of Baltimore by the Italian American Organization United and the Italian-American community of Baltimore.

Following the ceremony, the President returned to Washington, DC.



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