Radio Address to the Nation on the Trip to Europe and Mother's Day

May 11, 1985

My fellow Americans:

I've just completed an extraordinary 10-day visit to Europe, where I attended the Bonn Economic Summit and helped mark with European leaders the 40th anniversary of V - E Day. It was an exciting trip and a demanding one, and it left Nancy and me with a number of unforgettable memories.

But sometimes the most memorable moment is something you notice by chance, that hits your heart and yields an unforgettable image. For me it was the sight of an elderly woman standing among the onlookers as we drove through the streets of Strasbourg, France, on the way to the European Parliament to help mark the 40th anniversary of V - E Day.

Most of the onlookers waved and smiled, but the elderly woman who had stepped off the sidewalk and onto the street was waving a handkerchief in the air and smiling and yelling ``Hello.'' She looked just like the young French women who waved their handkerchiefs 40 years ago as the American convoys drove through the newly freed nation of France, and then I realized, maybe she was one of those young women. And as we drove by her, I thought perhaps she knows better than all of us what the anniversary of V - E Day is all about.

It was a wonderful trip, but it's good to be home. And it's especially good to be home this weekend because tomorrow is a holiday very close to our hearts -- it's Mother's Day.

Mothers are the creators of the family, and the family is the center of society. It's no accident that America chose to honor all mothers with a special holiday. After all, mothers have made a unique contribution to our country. They're the main communicators of the values by which our nation has flourished for more than 200 years -- the values of honesty, responsibility, decency, and personal effort. By imparting these and other values to our children, the mothers of America quite literally shape the future.

Mother's Day takes on a special significance this year for a number of reasons. One is the extraordinary phenomenon of the mothers of America joining together to press for much needed change in our society. There's Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the remarkable group started by a woman whose daughter was killed several years ago by a drunk driver. MADD, as it is called, has been responsible for helping bring tougher laws against drunk drivers in many States. The group has also heightened public awareness of the problem of drunk driving and made our children more aware of its hazards.

There is also the growing number of women who've joined in the fight against drug abuse. Recently in Washington there was a very important conference for the wives of 17 heads of state and government leaders on how they can strengthen families and help combat the epidemic of drug addiction among our children. That meeting was conceived and chaired by another Reagan named Nancy. I'm deeply proud of her involvement in this crusade, proud of her heartfelt commitment and the sacrifices she's made to help children in their struggle against drug addiction. Nancy, like any mother, feels pain when she sees and hears the cry of a child. So, I hope you don't mind my taking this moment to say thanks Nancy and happy Mother's Day.

And like all of you, I find my thoughts turning to my own mother, Nelle Reagan. She was truly a remarkable woman -- ever so strong in her determination yet always tender, always giving of herself to others. She never found time in her life to complain; she was too busy living those values she sought to impart in my brother and myself. She was the greatest influence on my life, and as I think of her this weekend I remember the words of Lincoln, ``All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.''

There's a group of mothers I'd like to mention, whose lives aren't remarked upon enough, but who should be given special mention today. That is the group of mothers who've made an extraordinary personal commitment by adopting children with special needs. These are mothers who have adopted older children, often foster children, and mothers who have taken in children who are unwell, either emotionally or physically, or who need special care of one sort or another. No one knows the heartaches and joys these mothers go through helping those who are most in need of a parent's loving concern.

Finally, one other group deserves special honors, it's the largest of all -- the working mothers of America. Some devote their full time to raising families, others combine that responsibility with jobs in the marketplace. Some are breadwinners; others are not. But all deserve our respect and thanks. All of these mothers work hard; in fact, they must be the hardest working people in America. Happy Mother's Day to these and all other mothers.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.