Remarks in New York City to Employees of the United States Mission to the United Nations

June 17, 1982

Mr. Secretary, Ambassador Kirkpatrick, you ladies and gentlemen, a good morning to you all. It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to meet with you today and thank all of you for your hard work. I just wish I had the time to greet each one of you personally. Maybe there will be a day before this job's over when that can happen. But so far it seems as if by the time I've finished breakfast, I'm 30 minutes behind schedule and it stays that way all day. [Laughter]

You're each a special representative of the United States. In your work and daily lives, you symbolize for the world the values, the ideals, and the good will of the American people. And we're very proud to have you represent us.

Your work here, of course, has two goals -- to represent America's interest, but you also are peacemakers, easing the tensions and securing the rule of law in the world. But those two goals are really the same, because the United States believes that it is only in a peaceful world -- one in which there is respect for individual human rights -- that we can prosper. And I can sympathize, however, with the frustrations that you encounter.

I've already this morning -- General Assembly, quoted Dag Hammarskjold that he used to tell a story about the ancient Chinese peacemakers, followers of the philosopher Sung Tzu some 350 years B.C., and I think you'll recognize their trials. Constantly rebuffed but never discouraged, they went 'round from state to state helping people to settle their differences, arguing against wanton attack, and pleading for the suppression of arms -- that the age in which they lived might be saved from its state of continual war. To this end, they interviewed princes and lectured the common people -- nowhere meeting with any great success, but obstinately persisting in their task til kings and commoners alike grew weary of listening to them. And yet, undeterred, they continued to force themselves on the people's attention.

Well, the former Secretary-General would end his tale by saying that the original storyteller tempered his pessimism with a mild sense of humor and a stong sense of proportion in seeing his own time in the long perspective of history.

Your jobs are certainly not easy. Every day you confront delicate and complicated tasks. But remember, although it may seem sometimes that no one's listening, that the peacemakers aren't making much progress, through your efforts and those of your colleagues, mankind has one of its first real chances to live together in peace with the universal recognition of human rights.

On that trip that Al mentioned in Europe, one of the highspots was meeting with a group of your colleagues. They happened to be in uniform. And you may wonder why I would say ``your colleagues.'' Well, I happen to think that they, too, are the peacemakers. That's why they're there -- to deter war and to prove that there are values that we must defend at all costs.

And we got off the airplane in Tempelhof, the airport, and there were hundreds of them there, many with their families and their little children. And I want to tell you, I grew 2 inches taller just with pride alone. They're just great. And if you've had any questions about them, let me tell you that they're putting up with the frustrations, too, but there's nothing wrong with their esprit de corps. They're all American and a yard wide, every one of them. And it was a thrilling moment.

It also was thrilling, though, to drive down the streets, and even though you seem to read more about demonstrations than what I'm going to talk about -- this wasn't written about so much, but the streets would be lined as if for a parade. And these would be people of foreign countries. Incidentally, the polls said that as high as 80 percent of the people in those countries wanted our friendship. And these people -- many of them would be waving little American flags. Where they got them, I don't know. But also many of them would be raising up handmade signs that said, ``We love America.''

So, just remember that sometime when the going is very rough and you're particularly frustrated, before you push the typewriter off the desk -- [laughter] -- just stick with the rest, because we're going to get the job done, thanks to you.

God bless all of you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I've got to say one last word. [Laughter] I said this to some people the other day. Might be like the little child, you know, that knelt down one night and prayed to God to give him more patience. And then he says, ``And I want it right now.'' [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 11:46 a.m. in the U.S. Mission auditorium. Prior to his remarks, he toured an exhibit on disarmament mounted by the U.S. International Communication Agency. He was accompanied by Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, U.S. Representative to the United Nations.