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Below is a copy of the text of President Eisenhower’s Address in Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence celebration.
The Charlotte Observer 5/19/1954 p. 4A
Text of President Eisenhower’s Address In Freedom Park
Here is the text of President Eisenhower’s address: Governor Umstead, members of this distinguished gathering; First I want to bring to you my personal thanks for the hospitality you have shown me. To each of you I am eternally grateful. I might say this, gratefully and most sincerely: Any American who had a modicum of modesty, would at times be overcome by the intensity and the importance of the problems that he would meet if he were called upon to serve in the chief official position of this country. He would find as I have found, and as all before me in the same office have found, that his great inspiration, his great source of help, is going back and meeting his friends, in the street, in gathering such as this, so that he may know that the heart of America is always sound and American judgment, when based upon information, is always correct. (Applause)
HEW TO LINE If he can carry that conviction into international conference, into domestic discussion with political and business and other leaders, he can be certain, in the long run, if he hews to that line, he will have done his duty insofar as God gave him the ability to do it.
And so you may understand something, then, of the true feeling of pleasure I experience in being with you here today to join with you, my own fellow Americans, in saluting, first the armed services, those men and women of ours who have won the uniform of our country, proudly, well, and effectively, who have defended our rights at home or abroad, for all of these decades, since the founding of our country, in whose accomplishments we have always found tremendous pride and satisfaction.
STILL CONFIDENT Today, as in all other decades of our history, we are still confident of our armed services from their secretaries and their high commanders on down to the last private in the ranks. (Vigorous applause)
And it is not difficult to understand this pride, because these people are of us; they are Americans. They come from this crowd, they sit among you people who have worn that uniform.
There are others as well, some of you in that great throng this day are in the service and serving your country. Still others have sons and brothers and husband and sweethearts in the services. We know they are sound, because they are Americans.
And we have met, in addition, for the purpose, the additional purpose of honoring those men of long ago, who, patriots in their time, signed the Mecklenburg Declaration.
Now if the story book record of that particular moment in history 179 years ago has been disputed by some, particularly those who acclaim that they are the descendents of the true authors of all early historical documents of that kind, I believe that is not important. The important thing is that here, this great segment of America wants to be known as originators of our historical documents of freedom. Did you take no pride in freedom today, why would you meet to claim such an honor?
I will tell you this: In my states of Texas and Kansas, could we prove that there were at least three settlers in each of those states, today we would prove to you that we not only started the Revolutionary War, wrote all the documents, won the war, but started the nation. (Laughter)
KINSHIP OF SPIRIT And I thoroughly believe as long as all Americans are anxious to claim kinship, not necessarily by blood descent, by spirit, by admiration, by a kinship of feeling with those men who did those great deeds, then indeed is America safe.
And so, it matters not exactly how many men were gathered in that cabin to sign a document. It matters not that part of the document had to be reconstructed from memories of those who were present. The fact is that it was an important step in our development because today people venerate the occurrence.
As we today worship freedom, as they worshipped freedom, we are doing our part as they did theirs in sustaining for all, both of this generation and those to come and that, my friends, is the great problem of this generation of Americans.
The world has practically eliminated physical barriers as among nations and among continents. But the world today, although joined physically by a few hours of flight or by instant wireless communication, is further apart in idea, in political belief, in basic philosophy than it ever was, even before the discovery of the Western World. There are two camps, one who believes, as did the men of Mecklenburg, that government should be founded and should be sustained to serve people; that the most important element of the nation is the individual that composes it. Another doctrine discarding and rejecting all thought of the spiritual values on which such a concept is based, says: The only values in the world that mean anything are the materialistic values.
GATHERING AS MONUMENT And so, in order that they may survive, they intend to destroy the whole concept that those forefathers of yours handed on down and on which you meet here today. Indeed, the gathering of such a group as we have here is, in itself, a monument to what has happened in America and a monument to the type of civilization and government under which we live.
If such a meeting should occur in the Soviet countries, it would be there to hear a doctrine propounded by the rulers. It would come there by orders sent out by the dictator; it would cheer when told to cheer, and leave when told to leave, and go exactly to where its members were told to go. Here we do not do that. And so we have the true value of a meeting, fully expressed, because people are here because they want to be.
I realize that in a time of life such as ours all of us are torn by worries we meet, no matter how uncomplainingly; the problems of living, the problems of paying the taxes, payment on the car, maybe the mortgage on the house, of educating the children; we are still torn by the worries that come about with the knowledge that science has brought us a great power of self-destruction in this world, even while no one has seen yet to devise a means whereby we can escape the consequences of such discoveries and devote them exclusively to the betterment of mankind.
DEVOTED TO PEACE At this time and place I cannot outline in detail what your government is trying to do in this regard but I do want to leave with you today, one thought; Your government, in all its parts, is devoted to one thing and one thing only; a fair and just peace for all mankind. (Applause) Every move that it makes on the international checkerboard, every program that it devises and supports for enactment at home, is to seek that road for peace with an America that is strong in its spirit and its devotion to freedom, intellectually in its educational and mental attainments, economically strong, with a wide distribution of all the productivity of this great country, and finally, militarily strong so that we may be secure and safe as we seek out this program and make more certain that we can find it.
In a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen, that is what all of us joined together in Washington are trying to do. Despite the arguments that you see in your headlines, despite all the things that distract us from these important aims and purposes of government, that basic thought, that basic aim is there, always. Ninety-nine per cent of all the public officials that you have in city councils, in state governments, in your governor’s chairs, and in Washington, are devoted to that one purpose, because all Americans know that until we have peace we cannot march forward to attain the dream that was held so thoroughly stated by the men of Mecklenburg. And now, permit me again a personal reference before I go, and start my journey back to Washington. From the moment I stepped off my plane to meet the Governor, I have met many old friends. Everywhere I have encountered nothing but warm hospitality. I thank the people who served the lunch, the orchestra, and the choir that entertained us with their art. I thank five old classmates of mine from West Point who came here today to give me a chance to say hello to companions of 1911. Everybody here, to each of you, my thanks, good luck, and I hope I’ll be seeing you.