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Charge to the athletes.

On this day -- 23 years ago -- Special Olympics was born. Tonight, in this magnificent stadium, we open the largest sports event in the world this year, your 8th International Special Olympics Games.

So this is more than a stadium. It is a dwelling place of peace and good will. And what you do here, your strivings and triumphs, will say to all the people of all nations, torn by ancient feuds, violence, disease and starvation, that there is another way. Your example invites millions to come join our world of Special Olympics. For you are the peacemakers, competitive but not envious, determined but not angry, teachers of the profound truth that we can try to do our best without calling on what is worst in the human character.

Each time you run, jump, lift, throw, or pass a baton, you will say to others everywhere: Come to our world where we are free to choose our friends, and choose our sports.

In the 1960s we were told we couldn't run 400 meters. Join us this week in 1991 as we run the half marathon -- 13 miles.

We were told we couldn't play team sports. Join us this week as we play in 1,000 different team sports.

At the first international games we were told we could swim only 25 meters in a pool three feet deep. Join us this week as we dive and swim 400-meter races in the freestyle, breast stroke, butterfly, backstroke and medley relay.

And we were told that whatever else could be achieved, we couldn't enter varsity school sports. Now join our Special Olympians as they receive their varsity school letters.

Come to our world where we speak from our souls, as we demand equality from our legislature and our educators. For we are the peacemakers.

Come to our world where we compete as friends and not enemies -- a world where Jordan and Israel, Latvia, Lithuania and the U.S.S.R. are united on our playing fields.

Come to our world where we welcome every color, every religion, evey race, every economic condition in the fellowship of sports, for we are the peacemakers.

Feel the spirit of peace and hope that fills our arena tonight. That spirit is in the hearts of the thousands of volunteers and coaches who serve in Special Olympics. They have learned that the meaning of life is to give away freely and it will be given back a hundredfold.

Peace is in the generosity of businesses and governments that have helped along the way.

Peace is on the faces of your parents who have sacrificed so much, fought for you so fiercely. For loce like theirs is the phantom we all seek.

Finally, to the athletes, I say to you within these walls there is light -- your light -- and we see for an instant what life on this earth might be.

That we could help each other.

That we could have victories without victims.

That there could be peace.

All this we see through you because you are the peacemakers.

And I say to you in words from the ages: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God."

Good Luck Athletes.
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Title Annotation:Hall of Fame; speech given during the Opening Ceremonies of the 8th International Summer Special Olympics Games
Author:Shriver, Eunice Mary Kennedy
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:The American with Disabilities Act: dreams for the future.
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