Remarks on Signing the Just Say No To Drugs Week Proclamation

May 20, 1986

The President. I appreciate all of you joining us here today to kick off ``Just Say No Week.'' And before I begin, I want to give a long-distance hello to Senator Paula Hawkins. Senator Hawkins has been a loyal warrior in the battle against drug abuse. So, long distance, Senator, thank you for all you've done, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

When our team got to Washington nearly 5\1/2\ years ago, we pledged to put America's house in order. Well, that required more than economic reform and bolstering our national defense. Our country was threatened by an epidemic of drug abuse that's been growing in intensity since the 1960's. By 1980 illegal drugs were every bit as much a threat to the United States as enemy planes and missiles. The plague was fueled by an attitude of permissiveness, both public and private. America was losing its future by default.

Early in our administration I issued a challenge: Americans in and out of government, I said, should do all we can to defeat the drug menace threatening our country. And I'm pleased that many of you who were there when I issued that challenge are with us today. I'm also grateful for all the hard work and long hours that you've committed to this truly noble endeavor.

The first thing we did was take down the surrender flag and raise the battle flag. Together we beefed up our enforcement arm, and today more arrests are being made and more narcotics are being seized than ever before. Today there's also more communication and effective coordination between the levels of government and departments and agencies than many believed was possible. We are, indeed, trying to do everything government can do to combat drug traffickers.

But just as important -- I happen to think more important -- we've enlisted the American people in this battle. Parents, service clubs, youth organizations, responded to our call. We found prominent citizens, captains of industry, singers, actors, and athletes -- individuals who young people look up to -- were more than willing to do their part. Why? Well, because they love people, and they love this country. What we've got to do now is make certain that we continue to give our young people -- like the ones with us here today -- the support and backing they need to ``Just Say No'' to drugs.

There's someone else here who shares these sentiments. She was a favorite of mine even before she got involved in this issue. [Laughter] However, I will have to confess that she's made me such a proud husband in these last few years. Nancy was, and still is, the motivational force behind the ``Just Say No'' movement. It all started in an elementary school in Oakland, California, during the summer of 1984. She was talking to a class about drug abuse, and out of her discussion with the youngsters came the idea of ``Just Say No'' clubs. And from that very day the idea snowballed. Clubs came into being first in California, then they started up in towns and cities all across the country and overseas. On Thursday of this week, Nancy will participate in the ``International Just Say No Walk'' with hundreds of thousands of young people around the globe.

Because of these grassroots efforts, all of us, inside government and out, are seeing a change of attitude about drug abuse. Public awareness has increased dramatically in the past several years, and our children are more aware of the dangers of drugs now than ever before. By educating our children about the dangers of drugs, we're going to dry up the drug market and kick the dope peddlers right out of this country. Every time Nancy and I meet this country's wonderful young people, we feel more confident that we are going to win this battle.

To our country's young people, I say: We're so proud of each of you who has rejected drugs and also those of you who have overcome drug problems. Your courage and commitment have not gone unnoticed. You have a special place in our hearts.

And now, before I sign the proclamation, I'd like to introduce the champ who's been leading this battle -- Nancy.

The First Lady. At the beginning of this year, someone asked me if I wanted to make a New Year's wish, and I said yes -- and it was that I'd like to see every young person in the world join the ``Just Say No'' to drugs club. Well, just the fact that Congress has proclaimed ``Just Say No Week,'' and in light of all the activities taking place, it seems that my wish is well on its way to coming true. I'm so proud of all the young people, the parents, the citizens in cities and towns across the Nation, the Government, and everyone else who's helping to create what I believe is the final solution to this problem -- and that's a way to teach every one of our children to ``Just Say No'' to drugs. The future of the world lies in their hands, and we must all come together in their name to end drug and alcohol abuse once and for all.

Again, thank you so much for what you're doing and for joining us here today. Thank you.

The President. And now I'll sign the proclamation. There -- ``Just Say No.''

Note: The President spoke at 10:28 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Proclamation 5483 -- Just Say No To Drugs Week, 1986

May 20, 1986

By the President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

People all across America are becoming increasingly aware of the terrible dangers of drug abuse. Permissive attitudes about drug use have been replaced by deepening concern and -- what is more important -- action. People of all ages and from all walks of life are rallying against this terrible scourge. Many young people are taking a leading role in the effort to help other young people from ``getting hooked,'' and in assisting addicts to break the chains of their addiction.

Although young people are exposed to far too many opportunities to experiment with drugs, an ever-increasing number are saying no to drugs and to alcohol. They are joining together to learn how, and to make it stick. They are forming ``JUST SAY NO'' clubs to help them resist temptation and to encourage their peers to stay drug-free. On May 22, many thousands of children and teenagers will Walk Against Drugs to encourage others to join them in saying ``No'' to drugs.

These young people of America are demonstrating that healthy and productive lives are possible when you ``Just Say No.'' Many other children of the world share this commitment to put a stop to drug abuse; in Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, Costa Rica, and Sweden, children are actively pursuing this same idea -- JUST SAY NO!

We, as adults, owe a debt of gratitude to our children for setting such a fine example; for leading the way to a better future for future generations. I congratulate our young people for their courage and zeal in this crusade. I challenge the adults of the world to encourage and support them, and to follow their lead in saying ``No'' to drugs. I am confident that, working together, we will conquer drug abuse.

To recognize those American young people who are publicly fighting drug abuse by saying ``No'' to drugs and thereby contributing to the end of this plague in America, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 337, has designated the week beginning May 18, 1986, as ``Just Say No To Drugs Week'' and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of May 18 through May 24, 1986, as ``Just Say No To Drugs Week.'' I ask each person to make a personal commitment to saying ``No'' to drug and alcohol abuse; and I call on all Americans to join me in observing this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.

Ronald Reagan

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 3:08 p.m., May 20, 1986]