Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Charge to the Athletes
The Opening Ceremonies of the
VIII International Summer Special Olympics Games
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
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 the 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 1960's we were told we couldn't run 400 meters. Join us this week in 1991 as we run the half thirteen miles. We were told we couldn't play team sports. Join us this week as we pay in 1,000 different team events.
At the first International Games 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 and are united on our playing fields.
Come to our world where we welcome every color, every religion, every 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 it away freely and it will be given back a hundred fold.
Peace is in the generosity of businesses and governments that have helped along the way.
Peace on the faces of your parents who have sacrificed so much, fought for you so fiercely. For love 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 the words from the ages: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God."
Good luck athletes.