Transcript of President Reagan's remarks at Andrews Air Force Base:
My remarks will be brief, if I wait for a second till I swallow the lump in my throat.
This isn't a time for speeches; it is a time for reunions and families coming together.
There's only one thing to say, and I say it from the bottom of my heart in the name of all the people of our country: Welcome home. We're so happy you're back safe and sound.
You know, you may not know this, Nancy's birthday is Saturday, and whether you like it or not, she's already declared that you are the greatest birthday present she's ever gotten.
This has been a trying and a very demanding time for so many people, but for none more than you. I talked to many of your relatives. I met them at various locations throughout the country, and now some of us have met again, while you were being held. I know you won't be surprised when I tell you how committed they were to winning your freedom and how full of caring and concern they were.
I know that they're very proud of you, and I know from personal experience that you should be very proud of them.
All of America is concerned about you. Many prayers were said for your safe release. In the days that you were away, our attention was never once distracted from your plight. And we wouldn't rest until you returned to us safe and whole.
None of you were held prisoner because of any personal wrong that any of you had done to anyone. You were held simply because you were Americans. In the minds of your captors, you represented us. Whatever the presumed grievance or political motive that caused these actions, let there be no confusion. A crime was committed against you. Hijacking is a crime, kidnaping is a crime, murder is a crime. And holding our people prisoner is a crime.
When cruelty is inflicted on innocent people, it discredits whatever cause in whose name it's done, and those who commit such deeds are enemies of peace.
Now you've returned to us, and we have a deep-felt sigh of relief. But there are promises to be kept.
The day your plane was hijacked, the terrorists focused their brutality on a brave young man who was a member of the armed forces of the United States. They beat Robbie Stethem without mercy, then shot him to death. Our joy at your return is substantial, but so is our pain at what was done to that son of America. I know you care deeply about Robbie Stethem and what was done to him. We will not forget what was done to him. There will no forgetting. His murderers must be brought to justice.
Nor will we forget the seven Americans who were taken captive before you and who are captive still. They must be released. The homecoming won't be complete until all have come home.
For now we rejoice at your return. Nancy and I prayed for your safety. We prayed for your speedy return, and we weren't alone.
Our prayers were only two among millions. We felt a great national concern when you were taken, and it is truly a national joy, as you can see, that greets your return. You are back in the free land of America, safe and sound.
You withstood your ordeal with extraordinary composure and coolness. Your families are waiting for you now, your friends, all your loved ones. So let the rejoicing begin. It's great to have you back where you belong. And thank you, all of you. God bless you.