CommentsApollo Astronaut Bill Andhers: First of all, I would like to offer my congratulations to the Liberty Torch runners. On a day like this, we are reminded of what a long way it is from the place they started to here. Also, the weather is not so good, and when I ran down here from McLean, I can tell you it was kind of icy underfoot.
Seriously though, the kind of dedication and commitment that you young men are demonstrating here by your Liberty Torch run is, as Casey said, what made this country really great. Back in 1776 the maximum speed of locomotion wasn’t much faster than a man could run. And twenty-five miles an hour was considered a staggering speed. Nowadays we beat that by some three orders of magnitude. We’re up to about twenty-five thousand miles per hour. When the country was first being explored and settled by people on foot and on horseback, it seemed like a gigantic place. It seemed like a really large nation. But at the velocity we move with today, particularly when we are able to look back from space, we see that not only the United States but the entire world is a rather small place where men seem much closer together. And this is because of the speed not only of locomotion but also of communication.
I think that your Liberty Torch run today is a very good communications vehicle (as well as a locomotion vehicle) to tell the people of this country and the people of the world that the values we had back in 1776 are still alive today. And we’re going to catapult them or launch them into the future for the nation’s next 200 years, where they will be able to do the kind of things that have made the country great in the past.
My congratulations to you. And thank you very much for the opportunity to be with you.
Captain Harry Allendorfer, National Bicentennial Commission, Director of Special Events: Looking at you people, your background — the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker — I can say it is a good thing that you have done. Something has happened. A lot of people have seen you do it and it takes them back 200 years to when fifty-six men were thinking about signing the Declaration of Independence. It was impossible; it couldn’t be done. But it had to be done. This group of boys, with different backgrounds, also had a goal that had to be done: to start at New York and run to Washington. It couldn’t be done, but it was done. Some 200 years ago men got together and did things that couldn’t be done. This country is a big country and we can do anything we want to do.
[Letters from New York Congressmen Ottinger and Addabo, supporting and commending the runners, were then read out.]
Mr. Conrad: And the last of our distinguished guests is Sri Chinmoy, who is the director of the United Nations Meditation Group.
Sri Chinmoy: Two hundred years ago America’s life-boat reached the Independence-Shore of the Golden Beyond. At the Shore it was blessed by Divinity’s transcendental Pride and humanity’s universal gratitude. These thirteen great Liberty Torch runners gloriously symbolise America’s promise in the inner world and America’s speed in the outer world.
Promise is the climbing aspiration of man in God. Speed is the illumining satisfaction of God in man. Now let us pray to the soul of America to bless us, to bless our devoted service to her.
[After a silent prayer Mr. Casey Conrad presented each of the runners with a badge representing the prestigious seal of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and asked each of the runners to share with the observers a thought or experience of his in connection with the Bicentennial run.]