This is the 34th time I'll speak to you from the Oral Office and the last. We're been together 8 1'ears now, and soon it'll be time for me to go. But before I do, I nanted to share some thoughts, some of u'hich I\e been saving for a long time.
It's been the honor ofmy life to be your President. So many ofyou have written the past few n'eeks to say thanks, but I could
One of the things about the Presidencf is that y,ou're alnays someu'hat apart. You spend a lot of time going by too fast in a car someone else is driving, and seeing the people through tinted glass-the parents holding up a child, and the wave y'ou saw
too late and couldn't return. And so many times I wanted to stop and reach out from behind the glass, and connect. Well, may'be I can do a
little of that tonight.
holt I feel about leaving. And the fact is, "parting is such sweet sorrou-." The sweet part is California and the ranch and freedom. The sorron'-the goodby'es, of course, and leaving this beautiful place.
You knou', down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the President and his family live. There are a few favorite windons I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view is over the grounds here to the Washington Monument, and then the MaIi and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when ihe humidity is low, you can see past the Jeffercon to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that's the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their ll-ay to work, now and then a sailboat on the river.
I've been thinking a bit at that *indon'. I've been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. Arrd the image that cornes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one-a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor rvas hard at uork on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling t}le South China Sea. The sailor, like mostAmerican servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America.
The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, "Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom
A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn't get out of his mind. And, u'hen I saw it, neither could I. Because that's what it was to be an