Remarks to Members of the Country Music Association During a Television Performance

March 16, 1983

I had to bring my own cue cards. [Laughter]

Hearing that patriotic hymn sung so beautifully stirs up so many feelings -- pride in the strength of our land, goodness of our people, and gratefulness to God for being free and an American. We've all been treated to a magnificent show this evening, entertained by a galaxy of some of America's best known and best loved stars. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as the Bushes and the Reagans did.

There was only one unsettling thing, and that was every time they talked about fiddling, I thought another congressional committee was messing around with the defense budget. [Laughter]

But if ever there was a night to forget your cares, this was it. Speaking for those of us who have been alternately tapping our feet and dabbing at our eyes all evening, I would like to offer a heartfelt, country-sized ``thank you.''

And I also would like to congratulate the Country Music Association on its 25th anniversary. For a quarter of a century, C.M.A. has been encouraging, developing, and promoting the musical sound that comes straight from America's heart. They've spread a home-grown music around the world, and I can't imagine a better ambassador. Remember, country music's contributions are greater than just the songs, although it's given us some great ones -- Roy's [Roy Acuff] great ``Speckled Bird'' is one of my personal favorites. And the medleys sung tonight demonstrate the country's rich diversity.

But the best thing about country music is its people -- a large and God-fearing, patriotic bunch from the mainstream of America. Most of them grew up in rural communities or small towns like the rest of us, and when they sing and pick and play, they tell the world about what it means to most of us: our families, our God, and our country.

And on behalf of the Nation, never very far from its foot-stomping roots, thanks to C.M.A. and its people who bring us and the world such truly American music. And all I can say again to these wonderful people is, thank you all, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 p.m. in Constitution Hall. The performance was taped for later broadcast on the CBS network.