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Release No: 480-97
September 12, 1997

Remarks as Delivered Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen Eisenhower Elementary School Fort Leavenworth, Kansas September 12, 1997

Thanks very much. Pleasure for me to be here. I especially am proud to be at the Eisenhower Elementary School. Ike, of course, is one of all our favorites. I don't have the button that Pat and Jim have on, but "I like Ike" as well as most Americans.

But, he was dedicated to education. He was not only a great military hero and a President, but he was also the president of a university and had committed much of his life to the pursuit of education, especially for our children. And so, I wanted to be here to promote the President's program and that of Secretary Riley of "Back to School, Get Involved."

Our military schools have unique problems and challenges in terms of being required to have children come to them that might be here only for a year, and these are the challenges that face all of the children of our military personnel who can be called upon to transfer every two, possibly every three, years. Requiring them to get an outstanding education is one of our highest priorities. And so, this elementary school, I think, we can see from a very brief tour truly measures up to that.

So education has always been a high priority for me. In addition to having been a public servant in Congress, I also had occasion to teach at the University of Maine for nearly six years. And so, education has been a part of my life as well. It's something that I put a very high premium on.

But with that I know you're anxious to ask other questions other than my commitment and that of the President to education. But, we believe that educating our children in order to prepare them for the future is one of the most important national security interests that we have.

We are developing more and more complex technology. It's going to require the best and brightest minds that we have available to come into our military to protect our national security interests.

And we're seeing how these young students at very early ages are becoming computer literate. How they are being wired into the internet. How they are developing a global view of the world itself. And all of that is going to be terribly important to our future security. So, education is a major component of our national security interest.

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