Ambassador Kirkpatrick, President Roche, distinguished guests, fellow admirers of Hillsdale College, fellow friends of freedom:
It is a great pleasure to share in your tribute to an individual contributing so much to the defense of human freedom—an individual I admire and rely heavily upon—Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. It’s fitting that an educational institution known for its steadfast adherence to American principles honors Ambassador Kirkpatrick. If Hillsdale College had not already established a Freedom Leadership Award, it would be necessary to invent one specifically for her.
As an influential scholar and penetrating writer in the 1970s, she was a voice of reason and common sense in the analysis of U.S. foreign policy. This was a time when adhering to such standards required courage, as well as clear thinking. Her strong principles and personal energy helped create the intellectual climate needed to restore vitality and a sense of purpose to this country’s relations with the rest of the world.
As United States representative to the United Nations, she has been a leading force for both democratic ideals and American interests. She has remained rock-solid in her convictions, amid the tides and storm clouds of world events and international politics. She stands a giant among the diplomats of the world. All Americans should be grateful for her service. That’s especially true for me, Jeane.
Ambassador Kirkpatrick is also a role model for American women who choose a public career. The vision, courage, and statesmanship contributed to the free world by women like Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir have now been matched by Jeane Kirkpatrick, one of our own. She is a splendid lady, a patriotic American, and an exceptional asset to this administration.
It is said that Benjamin Franklin would have preferred our national bird to be not the eagle, but instead the turkey. There have been times in the United Nations when this country, its interests, and its representatives were treated as if Franklin’s suggestion had been implemented.
Well, today, with Jeane Kirkpatrick at her post, the American eagle again commands respect. We are no longer indicting ourselves before the world. We are no longer immobilized by self-doubt. Our system is far from perfect, but it provides a better quality of life, more democracy and political and personal freedom, than any other. We have much to be proud of, and we should offer no apologies to regimes that force tyranny and deprivation down the throats of their own people.
We, the American people, are carrying a heavy responsibility. If liberty is to survive, if the forces of totalitarianism are to be thwarted in their attempts to expand their grips on mankind, much will depend on us. Today our commitment to this vital task has been reinvigorated, and the forces of tyranny are on the defensive. A new spirit of optimism can be felt, not only in the United States, but in the rest of the world.
The forces of human liberty, of kindness and decency, are for the first time in years asserting themselves and fighting back. This is especially true in the Third World, where countries that flirted with Marxism-Leninism are rejecting that unworkable and discredited ideology. It can be seen in the struggles in Afghanistan, in Chad, and elsewhere where freedom-loving people are struggling against heavy odds to secure their liberty and independence.
The tide of the future is a freedom tide, and Communism cannot and will not hold it back. The origins of this tide, just now gathering momentum, may be traced to the stands that we are taking here—to the steadfastness of purpose demonstrated by champions of liberty like Ambassador Kirkpatrick. Madam Ambassador, we thank you and we salute you.
President Roche, you honor me and this administration in awarding Mrs. Kirkpatrick the Hillsdale College Freedom Leadership Award. She joins a distinguished company of recipients.
Hillsdale deserves the appreciation of all who labor for freedom. Tonight’s tribute is but one example of the many contributions you are making. Your creative outreach on national issues enables little Hillsdale to cast such a long shadow. It’s a distinct pleasure to add my congratulations on the presentation of the Hillsdale College Freedom Leadership Award to Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. Thank you and God bless you all.