"I have a lot of faith, I have tremendous belief in what the younger generation of this country is going to do in the years ahead."
President Gerald R. Ford
West Texas State University
April 10, 1976
The President, whose own sense of honesty and integrity has restored trust to government, realizes that the principles and ideals of youth must be honored by all public officials.
The President reared his children to think for themselves and to speak their own minds. It is a close knit family. President Ford is not above listening to advice from his children. He told a high school student during a question-and-answer session at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on March 27, 1976, that:
"When I was in Congress I got a lot of nonvoting advice from my own four children, believe me."
The young student had asked the President what role he thought people too young to vote could play in government.
President Ford replied:
"Just because you may be about 17 and one-half does not mean you can't be a participant. You can do something to influence others and you can get people to the polls, and we have to get a maximum vote in 1976 to prove to the world that we love and cherish our democracy. We can't neglect the right to vote."
The 18-year Old Vote
The President recalled that when in Congress he strongly supported the constitutional amendment that made it possible for 18-year-olds to vote.
"Many people said it would be unhealthy, that they were not qualified," he added. "I think they are. Their participation has been excellent."
Also on the job front, the President signed into law legislation providing $528 million to support 888,100 jobs for disadvantaged youth this summer. He said this action, together with related summer youth programs, would produce summer jobs for 1.5 million young people in the 1976 summer.
The President called for 26,000 youths to do conservation work under the Department of Agriculture and Interior Department.
Ensuring Equal Opportunity
The President signed in March amendments to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act which bars discrimination against persons in obtaining credit for reasons unrelated to their credit worthiness. This law should help young working people below 21 in obtaining credit which otherwise might have been denied them because of age alone.
In actions relating to education, President Ford:
President Ford summed up his beliefs about American youth in remarks at Birmingham, Alabama, on May 3, 1976:
"I deeply believe in America's young people above all else. In 200 years we have forged from a struggling group of colonies to the greatest nation in the history of the world. Our progress in every field has been unprecedented and much of that progress has always been due to the strength and due to the character of young Americans."
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