President lauds olympians, mourns air crash

WASHINGTON (AP) Alight with the gold-medal glow of the Olympics, yet saddened by a numbing aircraft disaster, President Clinton said today that America’s Olympians are “living examples of what dreamers can do.”
And, on a sadder note, Clinton said that is equally true for the 16 high school students from a small Pennsylvania town who died at the start of a summer journey of exploration and learning.
Of the crash of TWA Flight 800 that took their lives and those of 214 other Paris-bound passengers and crew members, Clinton said in his weekly radio address: “We are doing all we can to find the cause of this disaster, and we will find what caused it.”
Of the 16 teen-agers, all members of the French Club at Montoursville, Pa., High School, he said: “By setting off to expand their horizons and seeking newer knowledge, these students were trying to live up to their God-given potential. That’s all we can ask of any of our children.”
“As a nation, we should dedicate ourselves to encouraging all our young people to think that way, and to making sure that they all have the opportunity to live up to their dreams,” Clinton added.
The president officially opened the centennial Summer Olympic games in Atlanta Friday night amid the pageantry of herald trumpets, fireworks, roaring aircraft, choruses, bands and 10,000 marching athletes from 197 countries.
After nearly four hours of brilliant show business watched by hundreds of millions around the world, Clinton spoke the 15 words Atlanta waited to hear for years: “I declare open the Games of Atlanta, celebrating the 26th Olympiad of the modern era.”
The setting and the spectacle formed a priceless showcase for a president seeking re-election. And Friday’s opening ceremonies were not the only time Clinton will claim the Olympics as a backdrop. He’ll be back next Thursday to watch a full day of competition.
“In the next two weeks we’ll see and celebrate the heroic efforts and achievements of young Americans who have worked a lifetime to reach their highest potential and make their dreams come true,” Clinton said in the radio address.
The 378 men and 276 women on the U.S. team represent many different races, creeds and cultures, the president noted.
“But they’re bound together in mutual respect and shared values,” he said. “These games really remind us that for all our differences and for all of our American rugged individualism, we are still one American community. … These Olympics are about what’s right with America.”
“We will cheer for them when they win, and we’ll cry with them when they don’t,” Clinton said.
“But we’ll always be proud of them, for they are living examples of what dreamers can do with peace and freedom, with opportunity and responsibility, with a commitment to a community coming together, not drifting apart.”
Clinton returned to Washington early Saturday despite a 25-minute delay at Dobbins Air Force Base, north of Atlanta, because of a stuck rear door on Air Force One. A backup plane was being flown in, when attendants unexpectedly were able to close the door and Clinton was able to take off in the 747.