Governor Reagan, Congressman Pettis, Congressman Veysey, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Veterans Administrator, all of the distinguished guests on the platform, and all of the distinguished guests in this very great audience:
I have had a rare privilege in the past 3 days, one that comes to a President of the United States on occasions when he can leave Washington and get out into the country. In those 3 days I have visited New York City and then on to Illinois, at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and then Idaho Falls in Idaho, the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Dallas for the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and finally, today, Loma Linda, California.
I can only say that after seeing this great country of ours, and hundreds of thousands of people, it is really good to be home in California, here at Loma Linda.
I know that represented in this audience are a number of Californians, and a number from all parts of the country, because one of the greatnesses of California is that we come from all the States of the Nation and from most of the nations of the world.
On this occasion, I would like to direct my remarks to the double purpose of the announcement that we are making today. The first is with regard to the hospital that Governor Reagan referred to that was destroyed in the earthquake of February 9. That was a hospital located in one of the most beautiful areas of southern California, on the tip of the San Fernando Valley. It no longer, of course, can be used, and it should not be rebuilt.
Consequently, we are replacing it here, but not only replacing it, but making a bigger hospital and a better hospital than we had before, right here in Loma Linda. Now, the question comes: What do we do with the land that we had? Here we have a policy which, in our Administration, we are implementing on a broad scale across the country.
The Federal Government, for example, owns 45 percent of all the land in the State of California. We own land all over this country that the Federal Government doesn't need, land that could be better used by the States, by the counties, by the people of this country. So, under these circumstances, with regard to the 94 acres in the San Fernando Valley, we are declaring it surplus through the cooperation of the Veterans Administration, so that it can be made into a park, a park which will be available to the people in that area and all the people of southern California.
Let me tell you why that kind of park is important. When I was out there--and this was my first visit to Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton National Park--and saw the magnificence of that park, I talked to hundreds of people from all over the country. Oh, there were some people from Bergen County, New Jersey, and others from Minnesota. There was a Scout group from Wisconsin. There were a number of people from California.
I found from the Director of the Parks that hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even millions, go to those parks through a year. But I also know, and you know, that while millions of Americans are fortunate enough to be able to afford the time and the money to go to one of those great parks located mostly in the western part of the United States, the great majority of Americans, and particularly of American young people, never see one. They live in the cities. This is their home, and what we must do is to bring the parks to the people. That is what we are doing through this program.
Governor, we know that whether it is the beach at San Clemente, which we declared surplus so that we can have a wonderful surfing beach down there that now can be used, or whether it is this 94 acres, that you, in cooperation with the city and county, will make good use of this land for the people of the State of California as they want it to be used.
Now, let me turn to this great hospital, and to say something about it and those who administer it that I think needs to be recognized, and particularly should be recognized by the President of the United States.
Reference was made by the Mayor 1 in his remarks that in 1953 he got an autograph from me. At that time I had just become Vice President of the United States. And that same year, 1953, 18 years ago, I really learned what the people who have built Loma Linda University, what the Seventh Day Adventists, do, not only in America, because I visited Loma Linda University--it was then Loma Linda College, as I recall, in 1950--but I learned what they are doing in the world, because in that year, 1953, Mrs. Nixon and I took a trip clear around the world.
1 Douglas F. Welebir was mayor of Loma Linda.
As we visited the countries of Southeast Asia and Southern Asia, we saw several hospitals run by various organizations. The most impressive ones were the ones run by the Seventh Day Adventists, people who were dedicated. There were doctors, there were nurses, there were others who were giving their lives for the purpose of helping those people in those poor countries develop a better system of medicine.
As I think of the desire all of us have to have a world of peace in which people of the world can work together and live together, rather than to fight each other, I think of nothing that does more to make friends for America abroad than that kind of selfless service by people like those from Loma Linda who have gone out through the world, as they have gone out.
Now a word as to what this hospital will mean. First, to the veterans it means better care, because this will be a great hospital, I can assure you. A hospital is not just a magnificent building like this splendid building, but what really counts in a hospital is the dedication of the doctors and the nurses and the others. And I can assure you this hospital will have the most dedicated doctors, nurses, and personnel we can possibly find, and our veterans will benefit from that.
The second thing I think is important to note is that all the community, all the Nation will benefit, because as Don Johnson, our Veterans Administrator, has often pointed out, and as he was telling me coming out on the plane from Dallas the other day, the work that is done in veterans hospitals makes breakthroughs that benefit all the country. For example, the treatment of so-called tropical diseases breakthroughs have been made already as a result of the work that has been done in the very difficult war in which we are presently engaged that we didn't think was possible even in World War II, and more will come.
So we see this hospital benefiting, as it should, first the veterans and providing better care for them, but beyond that, providing a basis for training for doctors, nurses, and others, and the basis for research which will improve the health of all the country; and then beyond that, as I have indicated, contributing to better health for all the people of the world.
So I am sure you can understand why all of us at this very moment, as we make this announcement, can realize that this is an announcement that everybody can support. Without regard to party, we are all for good health. Without regard to party, we are all for better relations between nations. Without regard to party, thinking as Americans, we want to do everything that we can to help those veterans who have served our country, who have made sacrifices that we did not make ourselves. And without regard to party, we are proud to participate in an event which we know is going to build America rather than tear it down, and that is what this event is doing.
In that spirit, could I add just a word to the very eloquent remarks of Governor Reagan? As one travels across this country, he thinks of numbers of things. But one impression that indelibly is made, as far as I am concerned, is this: As you go from New York to Illinois, to Idaho, to Wyoming, to Texas, and then out to California, you realize this is a very big country. You realize it is a very diverse country. But also, despite what may be said and heard at tunes running America down, you realize America is a beautiful country.
You also realize that the American people are a good people. They are a people who have gone to war four times in this century, but to our credit, never for the purpose of destroying freedom, always for the purpose of defending it; never for the purpose of breaking the peace, only for the purpose of keeping it.
America is the strongest nation in the world today; but why? Not for the purpose of conquest, but only from that position of strength can we help to negotiate what we all want for ourselves and for other nations in the world: a whole generation of peace--something we Americans have not had in a century.
That is a great goal. Americans are for it. Americans support it. And as we look toward that goal, and particularly as we see in this audience those who have given so much to their country, I say let's be worthy of them, worthy of the sacrifices of war by building a peace, a real peace, so that their sons and their children will not have to fight in another war, if that can be made possible. And second, to build a nation and a period of peace that means something more than simply the absence of war, that means a nation that has confidence in itself, a people that believe in this country, a people who are willing to make sacrifices for their country if they realize that what they give up is going to help all the country and all the people, and a people, also, who, as was the case in the beginning of this country, will recognize that America has a role in the world, and we are going to fulfill it.
You remember 195 years ago when America was a poor nation, when it was a weak nation, Thomas Jefferson said, we act not just for ourselves, "but for the whole human race." What a presumptuous statement it was to make then. But it was true then, because he knew that wealth and power was not what made a people great; it was the spirit of the people, and we had a great spirit, the "Spirit of '76."
And today when we are the strongest nation in the world, strong in arms and rich in goods, let it not be said that America was poor in spirit. I believe that America is rich in spirit. I believe that out across this Nation of ours, younger people, older people, have faith in our country. They want to build a generation of peace, and they want America to maintain the position of leadership in the world so that we can build that kind of peace that will mean something far more than the absence of war, that will mean better health, that will mean a cleaner and better environment, that will mean opportunity and freedom and justice such as people have never enjoyed in the history of the world.
This is a great ideal, and speaking to my friends here in my home State of California, I cherish this opportunity to share those ideals with you.