Remarks to American
Participants in the Armenian Earthquake Rescue Efforts
December 22, 1988
the last 2 weeks, the hearts of the American people have gone out to the people
of Armenia as they grappled with
the earthquake disaster and its aftermath. The world wept at the terrible
magnitude of the destruction and the tremendous loss of life: whole villages
and cities virtually leveled. Great numbers of men, women, and children were
trapped beneath fallen buildings in one of the worst earthquake disasters ever
to occur. Tens of thousands were killed, countless numbers injured, and many
others tragically missing.
no sooner had we learned of the disaster and of the great need that existed
than you and so many other Americans organized to help. Rescue workers and
medical teams from across the country flew to the Soviet Union where you searched for
the living and gave care to those who were injured. And thanks to your
immediate response and special skills, precious lives were saved.
in Washington, the people in AID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance worked
around the clock to coordinate the effort. And thanks to people from this
country and from throughout the international community, direct assistance and
desperately needed supplies were able to reach the survivors. And throughout
this period, American relief organizations, churches, and the American-Armenian
community have produced a great humanitarian response, which continues
providing all forms of material assistance to that devastated area.
and gentlemen, thanks to people like you here today, the Armenians have not had
to face this tragedy alone. And for that I want to personally thank you on
behalf of every American. Those of you who answered the
appeal for help, who have assisted in the relief effort, and those who flew to
the Soviet Union and
sifted through the rubble, searching for life against all odds, carried with
you a message from America. It was a message of
peace. You conveyed what was truly a universal message, one for us all to
remember at this time of year: that every life is infinitely precious, a gift
from God. So, whatever language we speak, whatever country we may live in,
whatever our race or religious faith, we're all one people on this Earth. And
in times of suffering, in the face of natural disaster, we're drawn by our
common humanity to help one another, to join in a great brotherhood of man.
lesson for this season is for us to love one another, and that's something you
have shown in a very real and important way. So, for this let me say: Thank you, and God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke
at in the Roosevelt Room
at the White House.