The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Dwight D. Eisenhower
Toasts of the President and President Bayar at the White House.
January 27, 1954

Your Excellency, Madame Bayar, distinguished guests of two countries):

Tonight, this company--this Capital--this country--is honored by the presence at this board of the Head of the Turkish Republic. We gladly seize the opportunity afforded us by his presence, to salute a nation which is one of the most gallant and staunchest defenders of freedom in the modern world.

The evolution of Turkey, taking place within the span of a single generation, is one of the marvels of our time. Fifty years ago--and there are a number of us here who can remember that long--the events, the names, and the faces of Turkey were little known to us. Our understanding of the country and its people was very meager indeed.

And then the change. Today we recognize it as a modern, progressive country, one that we are proud to call ally in the great problems that face the free world today. This great change was brought about by a dream of a group of men, a group of men headed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He had a dream that with a band of devoted associates they translated into reality--by service, unselfish and dedicated service, to their country. Forgetting themselves, they gave their lives and their talents to the nation to which they belonged.

And since 1923 we see the transformation that has taken place. Now the great Ataturk is dead, but his work lives on, and our guest of honor this evening is one of the original band that worked with him to bring about this great change, and to make Turkey the nation she is today: great, and growing greater every day.

Our guest of honor, since that day in 1923, has been almost continuously in the Assembly of his country. He has held almost every position in his government, including that of Prime Minister, and now is honored by holding the highest position in the land.

In a feeble effort to show some of the appreciation of this Government and its people, for Turkey as a nation and its people, our Government has awarded to our guest of honor the Legion of Merit in the grade of Chief Commander, the highest honor that this Government can give to anyone in time of peace not a citizen of this country. And with your permission, I shall read the Citation:

"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 20, 1942, has awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander, to Celal Bayar, President of the Turkish Republic, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services:

"The Turkish people have shown their confidence in Celal Bayar by entrusting him with high offices throughout his long public career, but especially when he was honored by being placed in the highest and most responsible position in Turkish public life--that of the Presidency of the Republic. In this high office, he has contributed greatly to the enrichment of that goodwill which characterizes the relationship between Turkey and the United States. Under his firm leadership, Turkey has continued to actively support those ideals which are cherished by free peoples everywhere, thus contributing effectively to the hopes for freedom and peace throughout the world." Signed by the President.

Now, my friends, as we lift our glasses to our guest of honor, let us remember that through him we do so, also, to the great nation of Turkey and its people--a people whose future we shah watch with interest, and wish for them everything that is good in a free world.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Bayar of Turkey.

Citation: Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Toasts of the President and President Bayar at the White House.", January 27, 1954. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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