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Remarks at Seeds of Peace Event

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Loy Henderson Conference Room
Washington, DC
August 12, 2003

Related Information: A Seeds of Peace Experience - [DSL/Cable] [dial-up modem] [audio] or [text] versions

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Aaron, for that kind introduction. And let me also thank you for the service that you have performed, not only to the Department of State but to the cause of peace in your years of service, and once again thank you for the fine work you did during my first 2 years here, and especially congratulate you on assuming the leadership of this wonderful organization, Seeds of Peace. And I know that you will bring to it the same kind of energy and talent that John Wallach brought to it, a man that we all admire, a great man who was committed to the cause of peace.

As John would say to me all the time, he believed in the future, he believed in the future as long as we were preparing the future, preparing the future by preparing those who will inherit the future, those who are responsible for the future -- our young people.

I love receiving young people here in the Department of State, and they come from all kinds of different backgrounds. Sometimes they are youngsters from around the world. Sometimes they are youngsters just from the District of Columbia area right here in Washington, DC. A large part of my life was spent with young people. As a soldier, I trained young people, 18-, 19-, 20-year-old Americans, and I prepared them for peace, to serve on the frontiers of peace as soldiers, to protect the peace, to defend the peace, and, if it became necessary, to fight for the peace in times of war.

And when I left the Army in 1993, 10 years ago, I began working with young people in another way, much younger people than the soldiers that I knew for all those years. I started working with teenagers and elementary school kids in order to help those who were disadvantaged, those who were a little uncertain about where life was taking them, a little uncertain about the world that they would be growing up in and what role they would play in that world. And so having you here today is a continuation of what I have tried to do over the years in talking to young people and working with young people in the cause of peace.

We all saw the same thing on television this morning. We all heard the same tragic news that, once again, in the territories bombs went off, innocent people lost their lives, bombs that were placed by people who were not for the cause of peace, bombs that were placed by people who were doing everything they can to destroy the dreams of Israelis and Palestinians alike, who will never get to the peace that we all seek, the peace that we want to give you, the peace that we want to give you so that you can keep. We will never get there as long as people continue to participate in terrorist activities and we see the response to terrorist activities which are necessary for self-defense.

So it is so important for us to push this message constantly that the dreams that we all have for two people to live side by side in peace in the state of Israel and in Palestine will only come about when violence ends, when terror ends, when young people and old people, all together, join hands and say, "Enough, enough. This must stop. We must stop denying ourselves the opportunity to grasp the future that we owe to these young people."

We've already seen reports on television that say, well, the roadmap is now finished, or the ceasefire is over, or this is all off track. No, it is not. We cannot let it go off track. We will continue to move forward on the roadmap. We will continue to do everything we can, both as the United States of America, but also working with the Quartet members that you've heard about -- the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations -- as well as working with leaders in the region, Arab leaders in the region and with Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas and all others who are committed to peace to come together, and, once again, say we will go forward, we will not be stopped by bombs, we will not be stopped by this kind of violence, because we owe it to you. We owe it to you to give you a better world, a better part of the world than we have seen in these recent years.

You will get it in the not too distant future. It will be yours. I will have retired and gone on to something else. Others will have retired or gone elsewhere, gone to meet their maker. Who knows? But it will be yours. We are giving this to you in due course. And this is why it is so important that you get to know more about each other, why through programs such as this you get a better understanding of the concerns, the anxieties, the anguish, the fears, the hopes, the dreams that other young people such as you have. Regardless of what language you speak or what country you came from or what religion you hold, the fact of the matter is each and every one of you is a child of God, put on this Earth not to destroy one another, but put on this Earth to love one another, to believe in one another, and to work for the cause of peace.

Those of us here in the State Department will never stop working on the cause of peace. Sometimes, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cause of peace requires the use of arms to bring peace. But once arms have been used, it is always our obligation, our commitment, to then bring peace and bring hope to the people who have suffered through conflict, suffered through war.

You see us working in that way again today in Liberia, with a dictator removed from power and our American military presence in the region and our commander going ashore to work with the forces that have come in from the West African nations, and with our diplomatic representatives in Monrovia to now, hopefully, take advantage of the change in the political situation yesterday so that the children of Liberia will have a full stomach, full stomachs in the very near future, and they can grow up in a time of peace, not a time of war.

It is easy at your age to say, "Why didn't the adults fix it? Why is this going to be our problem?" And I wish we had fixed it, and I wish we could fix it before you become young leaders and young professionals and young workers and young parents. And we're going to work hard to see if we can do it, but you have an obligation to prepare yourselves for that day when it becomes yours to do. And however successful we are, you will have to build upon that success. And if we do not succeed, the problem will become yours. But I am committed to success. I am committed to do everything we can. President Bush, with all his heart and all his soul, is committed to do everything he can to make the region that you represent a place of peace and not a place of war.

But this program is essential to that vision. It is essential that young people see each other as equals, as just another young person, another kid who wants nothing more than to grow up safely, to grow up and have a good life, to grow up and get a good job, to get the things in life that are good and to serve one's people, one's nation.

Whatever we are able to do in the near future, it ultimately will be up to you to build on that, and I am so pleased that you have this opportunity to come here to the United States and spend three weeks getting to know one another better, getting to understand one another better. And I hope you will take what you have learned back to your nations, back to your communities, back to your families, and discuss what you learned, share, spread it out. If it just remains contained among those of you in this room, then we haven't gotten the full benefit of this program. You've got to go talk to your fellow students, talk to your parents, talk to your relatives, become leaders in your community to take this message of peace, to take this message of reconciliation, to take this message of confidence building and restoring trust between people and between nations, take that message back and live it every day in everything you do.

We are so pleased to have you here in the Department. We are so pleased that my colleagues will be able to speak with you, and I hope that you find that your time here is well spent and enjoyable. I congratulate you for participating in this program and God bless each and every one of you as you leave the program, go home, and become messengers for peace, become Seeds of Peace and Seeds for Peace.

Thank you so much.

(Applause.)


Released on August 12, 2003

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