By the President of the United States of America
Throughout our history, Americans have been committed to the ideas of education and learning. In the eighteenth century, the law often decreed that land be set aside in each township for public schools. In the nineteenth century, hundreds of towns that were scarcely more than clearings in the wilderness nevertheless had their Lyceums, named for the garden in Athens where Aristotle taught, and dedicated to public enlightenment. As our Nation grew, teachers in every town and city spread the love of learning and offered the opportunity to make the American dream come true. In the twentieth century, education has become available to Americans of all ages, both inside the classroom and through a widening range of facilities and technological aids that allow them to pursue whatever skills and knowledge they might wish from childhood through old age.
America's gifts to the world include not only our Constitution, the incandescent light bulb and the automobile, but the free public school and the land-grant college system.
From the beginning we Americans have found practical ways to organize ourselves to make our dreams reality. And so we have built schools, public and private, from log cabin classrooms in the backwoods to gleaming city campuses of steel and marble. Today, education is our Nation's largest enterprise. State and local governments have exercised primary responsibility for public education, gradually expanding its range. The Federal government has sought to ensure access to equal educational opportunity for all our people. Higher education-once the privilege of a tiny elite-is now within the reach of virtually every American. We have been able to build the most comprehensive and open system of public education in the world because of the continuing commitment of Americans to the essential freedom to pursue knowledge and truth, and to the principle that if the people are to rule, they must be prepared.
Now, to meet the needs of the generations to come, we have established a Department of Education to express our national commitment to education, to promote equal educational opportunity, to assist local authorities in their efforts to improve our schools, and to administer Federal education programs more efficiently.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim this day, the 7th of May 1980, as Salute to Learning Day in honor of this beginning.
I call upon all parents and students, all teachers and administrators, all lawmakers and public officials-I call upon all my fellow citizens to celebrate this day. As a people, let us dedicate ourselves anew to building an educational system which will cherish young people, instill self-discipline and prepare students for tomorrow's world; which will encourage scientific curiosity and foster artistic creativity; which will support research, reward good teaching and honor high intellectual accomplishment.
Only by making this commitment can we pass on a tradition of educational excellence and equal opportunity to Americans of the twenty-first century and give them the tools they will need to shape their own interpretations of the American dream and make their own contributions to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:04 a.m., May 6, 1980]