May 20, 1986
By the President of the United States
May 21, 1986, is the 65th birthday of Andrei Sakharov. At this time, let us recall and acclaim the courage and dedication of this giant of the twentieth century. Let us rededicate ourselves to the values of peace and justice and human dignity he has come to symbolize for all who love freedom throughout the world.
Since we last honored this brave man, we are pleased that Dr. Sakharov's wife, Yelena Bonner, has been allowed to travel here to see her family and to obtain needed medical care. We welcome the fact that several separated husbands and wives were at last given permission to join their spouses in the United States. We welcome the release of Anatoly Shcharansky.
Unfortunately, these positive developments only serve to underscore the overall grim human rights situation that continues to prevail in the Soviet Union. For his efforts on behalf of human rights and world peace, Dr. Sakharov himself remains isolated in Gorky, deprived of contact with friends and family, and barred from carrying out scientific research. The Soviet authorities have succeeded in eliminating the main vehicle for human rights activism, the Helsinki Monitors. Yury Orlov and many other monitors are now serving long terms of imprisonment or exile. Religious groups continue to be major targets of persecution: Orthodox believers, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Ukrainian rite Catholics, Uniates, Pentecostalists, and other groups have been subjected to arrest and harassment. The crackdown on Hebrew teachers and cultural activists continues. Emigration remains at low levels. Many more families remain separated. The basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and press are systematically denied, yet, as Sakharov has recognized, these are the essential means by which people can ensure that their own governments act peacefully and in the people's interests.
In October 1977, in an appeal to the Parliaments of all Helsinki-signatory states, Dr. Sakharov wrote:
``We are living through a period of history in which decisive support of the principles of freedom of conscience, an open society and the rights of man is an absolute necessity. The alternative is surrender to totalitarianism, the loss of all precious freedom and political, economic and moral degradation. The West, its political and moral leaders, its free and decent peoples, must not allow this.''
I believe we can best honor Dr. Sakharov on his 65th birthday by taking his message to heart and by continuing our own vigorous efforts in pursuit of a just peace, including respect for human rights. We must act on his behalf to ensure that his message of hope, freedom, justice, and the inviolability of the human conscience will not be silenced.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 323, has designated May 21, 1986, as ``Andrei Sakharov Day'' and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 21, 1986, as Andrei Sakharov Day. I call upon the people of the United States and Federal, State, and local government officials to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities designed to honor this hero of humanity.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:27 a.m., May 21, 1986]
Proclamation 5485 -- National Maritime Day, 1986
May 20, 1986
By the President of the United States
From the very beginning, America has been a seafaring Nation. In fact, the discovery of our continent was the result of one of the most daring seafaring adventures in human history. Even before the founding of the Republic, our people looked to the sea -- for peaceful trade and to ensure prosperity.
The sea-lanes were the pathways to new beginnings in a new world for millions who came to our shores and helped to build a country already rich in trading and seafaring traditions.
American maritime leadership was also reflected in ship design. The fabled ``Yankee Clippers'' of the early 19th century represented the first major innovation in wind-powered craft since the 15th century. They dashed across the seas at unprecedented speeds, making them the ultimate in merchant sail. And when steam-powered vessels began to eclipse sailing ships in the latter part of the 19th century, it was largely the result of pioneering work by two Americans, John Fitch and Robert Fulton.
Since America fronted on the world's two largest oceans, it was fitting that an American naval officer, Alfred Thayer Mahan, should have been the author of the first major historical study of the influence of sea power in geopolitics. Theodore Roosevelt, who as a young man was the first to review Mahan's book, later, as President, took the lead in providing the United States with its first world-class navy. From this rich heritage, America emerged as the greatest trading Nation on earth.
All of us today owe a debt of gratitude to the civilian merchant mariners who have braved the perils of the sea and the assaults of enemies who threatened our way of life. Through the centuries, untold numbers sacrificed their lives to preserve American freedom. In World War II alone, nearly 6,000 U.S. merchant seamen aboard 733 American ships were lost in enemy attacks. But our sea-lane lifelines remained open.
It is appropriate that we pause to pay tribute to those civilian sailors, past and present, in our commercial fleet and to all other Americans who support them and guard the lifelines of the sea that sustain us all.
In recognition of the importance of the American merchant marine, the Congress, by joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, designated May 22 of each year as ``National Maritime Day'' and authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance. This date was chosen to commemorate the day in 1819 when the SS SAVANNAH departed Savannah, Georgia, on the first transatlantic steamship voyage.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 1986, as National Maritime Day, and I urge the people of the United States to observe this day by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes and other suitable places, and I request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:28 a.m., May 21, 1986]