Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address to the Members of the Parliament of Greece

December 15, 1959

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, Your Beatitude, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Representatives of the Hellenes:

I am greatly honored that I have been invited to speak before this distinguished Parliament.

Greatness and grandeur are all about us; greatness and grandeur of ideas and ideals that were born and first enunciated nearby; of men forever memorable who walked and lived here, of a people whose valor and vitality and wisdom are written large on the human record. Your present Government and its leaders, your distinguished Prime Minister, are producing a record of achievement that makes them worthy successors to their illustrious predecessors.

I represent in this place 180 million men and women who with you of Greece share the golden legacy of culture and civilization bequeathed by your forebears to the Western World. We Americans, with you Greeks, are fellow-heirs to the glory of Greece.

In this city of Athens, more than a score of centuries ago, democracy-in its principles and in its practices--first won the hearts and minds of men. This house of free representative government symbolizes the vigor of modern democracy in its ancient birthplace; demonstrates that the will of men to be free is imperishable.

In our common dedication to the ideals of democracy our two countries-America and Greece--feel a basic kinship. An American can feel as much at home here as in Washington or Abilene, my own village, or Brooklyn--just as Greeks quickly find themselves at home in those three places in America.

To this Parliament, I come with a message of admiration and respect from the American people to the Greek people, and for the light of inspiration that shone out, in our own day, to all the free world from this land and its islands.

You have proved yourselves fearless of defense in your independence; tireless in your attack on the evils of hardship and privation; ready for sacrifice that your children might enjoy a brighter day. And, beset with hardship and difficulty at home, you joined in cooperation with the other countries of the Atlantic Alliance for mutual defense and security. Your Expeditionary Force to Korea, by its valor and heroism, helped sustain the rule of law and the United Nations in that divided nation.

The American people--and I am sure all the free peoples of the world--salute you, valiant and worthy heirs to the Greek traditions.

And now, briefly, permit me to speak on a cause close to my heart; close, I hope, to the hearts of all who believe in the brotherhood, the dignity, the divine origin and destiny of man as a child of God, created in His image.

The cause is: peace and friendship in freedom.

The Greek and American peoples share a common and deep devotion to peace. We share further the conviction that we must sustain the conditions under which the goal of peace may be pursued effectively.

We must be strong militarily, economically--but above all, spiritually. By developing and preserving such strength--by forever repudiating the use of aggressive force--we shah win the sort of peace we want; with friendship in freedom.

I mean peace that is creative, dynamic, fostering a world climate that will relieve men and their governments of the intolerable burden of armaments; liberate them from the haunting fear of global war and universal death.

I mean friendship that is spontaneous and warm, welling up from a deep conviction that all of us are more concerned with the bettering of our circumstances; giving our children wider opportunity and brighter promise--than in destroying each other.

I mean freedom in which, under the rule of law, every human will have the right and a fair chance to live his own fife; to choose his own path; to work out his own destiny; that nations will be free from misgivings and mistrust, able to develop their resources for the good of their people.

To this cause of peace and friendship in freedom, Greeks are contributing all their hearts and minds and energies. Joined with the free men of the world they can help mankind at long last to enjoy the fullness of life envisioned by the sages of ancient Greece.

Honorable Members of Parliament, I want to assure you again of the very deep sense of distinction that I feel in the invitation to address you. I feel that here I am with men who, like myself and all other Americans, love peace and freedom and want to work with you for it.

Note: The President spoke at 10:12 a.m. His opening words "Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, Your Beatitude" referred to Constantine Rodopoulos, Speaker of the unicameral parliament, Constantine Karamanlis, Prime Minister, and Archbishop Theoklitos, Primate of Greece.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address to the Members of the Parliament of Greece Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235011

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