Remarks at a Dinner Honoring General Jimmy Doolittle

December 6, 1983

I haven't had as much trouble getting on since I did a picture with Errol Flynn. [Laughter]

I thank you, and I just wanted to say that I'm honored to accept the Jimmy Doolittle Fellowship award, who helped so many students receive technical and vocational training.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I know that all of you feel as I do tonight, that it is an honor and a privilege to salute an authentic hero and an American legend. In this country whose history is so rich with wartime valor and genius, only a few events have held a special place in the memory of the American people: Washington's ride across the Delaware, Stonewall Jackson's ride around the Union right and then up the Shenandoah Valley, Douglas MacArthur's brilliant invasion of Inch'on, and of course the courageous and daring raid in 1942 by a handful of Americans led by Jimmy Doolittle.

And, General, if you'll forgive me, I do have a question I've been wanting to ask you for the last several weeks. How did you get away with not taking any newsmen along? [Laughter]

But seriously, General, it is for each one of us here tonight a privilege to be with you, to salute you not only for the heroism of your 30 seconds over Tokyo but for your service and devotion to our country over a great many years.

Many of us have a personal recollection of the hope that you and your men gave the American people in the darkest days of World War II. And if you don't mind me saying so, I also remember serving with you in another of your public-spirited exploits back in 1964 when we worked together for a man who was also an Air Force general known to many of you in this room and who is here tonight, Barry Goldwater.

I like to think that many of the dreams of a strong America that we had then are coming true today. This is only one more reason why the name of Jimmy Doolittle remains an inspiration to me and to the American people. The name's very mention reminds us that no matter how difficult the odds or how great the potential sacrifice, a dare for the sake of freedom and our fellow men is a dare well worth taking.

So, ladies and gentlemen, will you join me in a toast to a magnificent American, a man whose name will be remembered as long as the virtues of valor and patriotism last, Jimmy Doolittle.

Note: The President spoke at 10 p.m. in the National Air and Space Museum. Prior to his remarks, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona made him a fellow in the Jimmy Doolittle Educational Fellowship Program, which is a program of the Aerospace Education Foundation. The Air Force Association and its Aerospace Education Foundation sponsor the dinner annually.