Remarks During the White House Staff's Celebration of the President's 77th Birthday

 

February 5, 1988

 

Mr. Baker. Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen: Mr. President, if you are truly surprised -- [laughter] -- after 77 of these happy occasions, your acting skills have lost none of their luster. [Laughter] But surprise or not, on behalf of everyone here, your administration, your staff, your political party, and your friends from all over the country, we wish you happy birthday, Mr. President!

 

And, Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan, as you know, there are two people who've worked especially hard to recognize your birthday in this unique way. One of them, the First Lady, is on my left, and the other is Marvin Hamlisch. And Marvin, Mr. President, has composed a march in honor of your birthday, and it's entitled ``The Ronald Reagan March.'' And the United States Marine Corps Band is ready to let us all hear how it sounds now.

 

Now, Mr. President, I thought you'd like to know that, now that you've got a march of your very own, we've taken steps to have a circuit installed to Capitol Hill, and any time you think you need to expand your presence in that place, all you have to do is touch a switch in the Oval Office and the Capitol Building will be regaled with the ``Ronald Reagan March.'' [Laughter]

 

And now, Mr. President, to go along with the march, we have here something else for you. We have a gift certificate, which has been prepared by your staff and which I'd like to read. It says, ``Gift certificate presented to President Ronald Reagan, redeemable for 1988, the best of 8, from every member of your administration, and expires on January 20th, 1989.'' Happy birthday!

 

The President. Well, believe it or not, I am speechless. For the last few hours, I have been surprised as I've never been surprised before. I came over here to have a hasty lunch and get into my Camp David clothes with Nancy and found myself at a luncheon party inside the State Dining Room with a great many friends there. And I think you ought to know -- when I think of how long it took the whole Government here to come up with a budget this year -- Marvin Hamlisch wrote that march in a week. [Laughter]

 

But to all of you, I can't tell you how -- yes, I am surprised, and anyone is a cynic who doesn't think that I am -- [laughter] -- because I just thought that, well, yes, everybody was being very nice. And Howard helped me over here with a few presents that had been delivered in the office, and I thought he was going out of his way to be nice. Didn't know he'd been invited to the lunch, because I didn't know there was a lunch. [Laughter]

 

But to all of you, also, can you imagine what this means. There are more of you here than there lived in the town where I was born. [Laughter] There isn't any way to express it. And you know something: It ain't bad having another birthday, even at this stage. [Laughter] Here I am, 39 years old. [Laughter] I've been that old 39 times now. [Laughter] And I wouldn't mind going another 39.

 

But to all of you all I can say is just thank you all. God bless you all.

 

Note: The celebration began at 3:05 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House, prior to the President's departure for a weekend stay at Camp David, MD.