Americans well-to-do and poor have lost their jobs and are worried about their futures. States are cutting services and facing steep deficits. The hopes for 2010 are sincere, yet the need for economic recovery is great.
A few U.S. presidents have issued speeches on New Year's Day, though it is hardly a tradition. However, a speech by President Ford on Dec. 31, 1975, is unique in its mentioning of the upcoming bicentennial celebration and Ford's thoughts for the coming year.
We're reprinting Ford's speech today, for its words contain a message that we can carry with us into 2010.
By Gerald R. Ford
The years that are special in the lives of nations and individuals are those in which imagination produces action — action that offers hope, opportunity, a fresh start and a vehicle for our optimism.
One of our great national characteristics is optimism. I can't even remember facing a new year with anything less than anticipation — and a few of those new years were difficult ones.
Some of us can remember new years in the Great Depression when the road to prosperity seemed closed — we can remember other new years spent in the midst of a world war that threatened our very survival.
But I can also remember new years in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, when the future sizzled with promise and we led the world back to stability and greater achievement than it had ever known before. The road to prosperity was not closed — we had just been on a detour — our resolve, our determination and our ability had been tested — and we were not found wanting.
The new year we are now entering embodies the 200th anniversary of the founding of this great Republic. We look back with pride, but all of our national experience should prove to us that we must also look forward with eagerness to the unfolding years ahead.
We are Americans! We move into the future with the strength and confidence of 200 years of a proud heritage. Liberty is the most precious possession of our past and it is still our greatest promise for the future. The freedoms we have today must be preserved and extended.
I ask you to join me in a 1976 New Year's resolution to cherish and protect what we have achieved in America— and, with God's help, to build upon it in the years ahead.
A very Happy New Year to each of you.