Ambassador Burden, Mr. President, Madame Pompidou, Mr. Foreign Minister, Madame Schumann, Senator Mansfield, Senator Scott, all the distinguished guests at the head tables, and all of the distinguished guests in this audience:
It is indeed a very great honor for me to be here on this occasion; and in my very brief remarks, prior to proposing a toast to the President of the Republic of France, I should like to indicate the importance I attach to this occasion.
When I learned that President and Madame Pompidou were coming to the United States, I wanted them to see our country, the United States, as a President of the United States saw it--and I must say, we overdid it a bit, as we usually do.
But he is the first President, I am proud to say, to spend a night at Camp David as the guest of the President of the United States. We, of course, have been honored to have him and Madame Pompidou at the White House, and we have been very honored to go to the French Embassy as the guests of Ambassador Lucet, and he has visited Florida, California, Illinois-and tonight gets a reception from his friends in New York, and they are legion in this city and this State, I can assure you.
But now quickly, to a point of history that will be of interest to you. This magnificently inscribed program, one that does credit to these outstanding dinners that are held in this beautiful ballroom, indicates the various groups that are participating in this dinner, and also indicates those who sit at this table, this table, and that table, and there is a full guest list.
But there is one reason why I trust that each of you who is interested in history will keep this program, because there will probably never be another one like it.
I refer you, if I may, to--the pages are not numbered, we may say--page 3, where it says "Toasts," and the first toast is, as it should be, to His Excellency Georges Pompidou, proposed by the Vice President of the United States.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the 190-year history. of this country, the Vice President of the United States has often substituted for the President, and I am an expert on that; I have done it. Tonight, here in the Waldorf-Astoria, March 2, 1970, is the first time in the history of the United States of America that the President has ever substituted for the Vice President of the United States of America.
I will tell you very briefly why: Because France is our oldest ally and our oldest friend; and second, because that friendship is so deep and so long that any minor irritations or bad manners or differences are not going to impair it; and third, because that alliance and friendship, for 190 years, has been joined together on several occasions, always on the side of freedom against the forces of those that oppose freedom.
And finally for a personal note, because I was proud to welcome the President of France just a few days ago at the White House as an official friend, I am proud tonight to say goodby to the President of France as a personal friend.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud tonight to propose this toast. I wish I could speak the language better, but at least I can say: Vive la France; vive le President Pompidou.
Let's raise our glasses to the President of France. Viva la France.