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Clinton speaks at Air Force, NSA birthday

	1:50 P.M. EDT
	THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.  Secretary Cohen, Secretary
Widnall, General Eberhart, Chaplain Dendinger, Chief Benkin.  To the
Air Force Band, the Air Force Academy Cadet Chorale, the friends and
families, especially the men and women of the United States Air
Force.  I'm delighted to be here as we celebrate this 50th
anniversary of the best Air Force in the world.
	Secretary Widnall thanked me for coming to your 50th birthday
party.  Actually, I thank you for having me.  Ever since I turned 50
myself, I've been looking for all the company I can find.
(Laughter.) And since I can't run for office anymore, Secretary
Cohen, I'm glad to come here and have this crowd you raised
for me.  I appreciate it very much.  (Laughter.)
	Ladies and gentlemen, 50 years ago, when our nation emerged from
the crucible of World War II, we faced a political and military
landscape that had been forever changed.  Our European allies were
devastated, the Iron Curtain was descending, the values for which we
had fought so dearly seemed under siege from Europe to Asia.  At that
moment, only the United States had the strength to uphold the
struggle for freedom around the world.  And though our people were
eager to turn their energies back home, we rose to the awesome
responsibility at hand, creating the institutions that would protect
our security and promote the cause of liberty and peace, and
eventually enable us to prevail in the Cold War and enjoy the
conditions that exist today, when, for the first time in human
history, more than one-half the people on this planet live under
governments of their own choosing.
	In 1947, 50 years ago, the four essential players in that
struggle came to life: the Central Intelligence Agency, the National
Security Council, the Department of Defense, and the United States
Air Force.  For the record, I think it should be noted that President
Truman signed this act aboard his so-called "Sacred Cow," the C-54
presidential aircraft that served back then as Air Force One.  In
case you're wondering, President Truman was just like me --he didn't
have an escape pod on his plane either.  (Laughter.) I might say, as
long as the Air Force is flying me, I don't feel the need for a way
out.  (Applause.)
	Fifty years later, our Air Force remains a world-class force
without peer, thanks to the extraordinary men and women who serve in
it.  Your soaring spirit, your dedication, your skill have helped
America to master the skies.  You've made us more secure.  You've
made the world a safer place.
	We have seen your courage and expertise in time of war.  We have
seen your compassion and sacrifice in time of peace.  We have seen
the around-the-clock flights of the Berlin airlift.  We saw you in
MiG Alley in Korea.  We saw the longest humanitarian airlift in
history during the war in Bosnia.  We saw you in the skies over
Baghdad in Desert Storm.  And just a few days ago, we saw the nine
crew members of the C-141 perish off the coast of Africa after
carrying a team of experts to help support our de-mining efforts in
	We have seen you rise to the challenges of our time, from the
development of the air expeditionary forces that give me an
invaluable tool in times of crisis, to last week's deployment of
Commando Solo aircraft to help prevent the enemies of peace in Bosnia
from sabotaging the Dayton Agreement.
	We have seen your vision and commitment to excel as you sharpen
your technological age to dominate the battlefields of the future.
And perhaps most important, we see in the 12 outstanding Airmen of
the Year the best traditions, the best hope and the brightest future
of the Air Force -- the leadership and talent and dedication that
make you second to none.
	I want you to know on behalf of all Americans, I am proud of
them and proud of all of you who serve in the United States Air
Force. (Applause.) To the pilots, the flight crews, the Red Horse
engineers, the technicians, the security police, the space and
missile operators -- all who contribute to the strength of America in
the skies, and to all the families who support you, our nation is
profoundly grateful.
	Today is a well-earned day of celebration for your golden legacy
of achievement.  But as you know better than anyone, there is never a
day of rest.  We pay tribute to the last 50 years with a
determination to look to our Air Force men and women to help us meet
the challenges of the next 50 years.  We know we can always count on
you; we always have.  Aim high and reach for new horizons.
	Thank you, and God bless you all.  (Applause.)