Richard Nixon photo

Excerpts of Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, SS "Hope" Dedication, Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, CA

September 13, 1960

I am proud and happy to represent the President of the United States on this inspiring occasion.

There is nothing I can add to his wishes for a bon voyage to this gallant ship and its devoted staff on a mission which is unique in history.

Within a few days you are steaming westward to the 3,000 islands of the Indonesian Republic, thousands of miles across the Pacific, to spread medical knowledge and help train the doctors and nurses of that great and friendly nation to provide for their urgent health needs.

Those needs can be realized most easily when we remember that in Indonesia there is only one doctor for every 71,000 people, while we, with one for every 750 Americans, complain of a doctor shortage.

No one who has traveled through the emerging nations of the postwar world and in the Americas, as I have done on various missions of friendship for President Eisenhower, can fail to note that the greatest single need of hundreds of millions of human beings is for better health and hospital facilities.

When you witness the terrible burden of curable disease and preventable suffering which afflicts so much of the world, it is a challenge to our deepest instinct for service to mankind.

Disease and malnutrition know no politics. And I think that every American should be proud today of the SS Hope, as a symbol of the very best in the American spirit.

I do not believe that in any other nation would there be found this kind of cooperation between government and citizens in organizing this expeditionary force for health and healing.

The Navy has made available one of its hospital ships from the mothball fleet.

Under the inspired faith and leadership of Dr. Walsh, the American people - business concerns, labor unions, charitable foundations and private citizens - have contributed the millions of dollars needed to refit and operate this floating medical center and training school.

The finest kind of medical, dental, and nursing staff has been recruited from volunteers, with warm cooperation by the professional associations involved.

This is not a Government project, except perhaps in the sense that you are steaming westward on the invitation of the Indonesian Government.

Here is private philanthropy and good will working together on the people-to-people basis which, as President Eisenhower has stated in his letter, is the best assurance of world peace.

All this has been accomplished in less than 2 years from the time Dr. Walsh first had the idea for the Hope project - and believe me, for Washington that is almost a record.

Here is America's answer to the hate, fear, and suspicion spawned by predatory communism.

Let us never forget that when the Communists completed their conquest of mainland China, the first targets marked for destruction were the schools and hospitals established by generations of devoted missionaries and western philanthropy. Not until the Reds had seized these humanitarian institutions and had jailed or deported the missionaries of every faith, did the rulers of China feel free to preach their gospel of hatred against those whose love and generosity had tried to bring faith and healing to the Far East.

So the good ship Hope is more than just a program for medical teaching and training where they are most needed - in Indonesia, in Vietnam, and wherever else it may be invited to serve. It is a reaffirmation of our faith in human kindness and renewal of an image of America that stands close to all that is good, decent, and enduring in our free way of life.

I hope that in the near future there will be, not one but an entire American white fleet of mercy vessels on the seven seas, standing ready to serve wherever the need may come. May the Hope be the flagship of a new kind of navy - a navy which will really wage peace by waging war against needless suffering and disease: the ancient enemy of all mankind.

Richard Nixon, Excerpts of Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, SS "Hope" Dedication, Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project