Jimmy Carter photo

Hubert H. Humphrey Eulogy Delivered at Funeral Services in St. Paul, Minnesota

January 16, 1978

Not too long ago I invited Senator Humphrey to go to Camp David to spend the weekend with me. He had never been there before, and he was very effusive in his thanks, telling me over and over how great a favor I had done for him. It was the greatest favor I ever did for myself.

We spent 2 days on top of a mountain, in front of a fireplace, just talking and listening. We talked about people—common, ordinary people and great people in our country and all around the world. With some he had had very friendly and good relations. They had always supported him in his campaign and always had good things to say about him. Others had sometimes disappointed him, and he had not always had their support. But he never said a word of criticism. He tried to search in his own mind, no matter who it was, and find something good to say.

We talked about pain, about the physical pain that I could see that he was bearing. We talked about the pain of losing a political campaign. We talked about the pain of frustration when you have high hopes and great dreams and human fallibilities won't let you realize them all. But I never detected in any of his words any bitterness.

Yesterday I was honored to speak about Hubert Humphrey at the Nation's Capitol. I talked about what he had meant to our own Nation. But he knew, as I know and Vice President Mondale knows, that one of the responsibilities of those who serve in the White House is to look beyond our Nation's borders, to foreign countries. He traveled a lot, and he told me about the world leaders with whom he had met. He told me about the months during the Vietnam war when he was Vice President and how when he rode down the streets or got off the airplane or visited a college campus with his heart full of love, quite often he didn't see love in the faces of the crowds who faced him, and he didn't see love on the signs and the banners that confronted him and his President. He had a yearning for peace, and we talked about the mechanisms of peace—not always a popular subject for a political figure in a nation as proud of its military strength and its great influence. But in kind of a quiet and unpublicized way, because of what was in him, he was the expression of the good and decent and peaceful attributes of our great, strong, powerful Nation.

He was always dedicated to breaking the logjams in the cold war. He expressed a deep hope that we and the Soviet Union might reach agreements on difficult questions and resolve longstanding differences and get to know each other and search for a way to reduce the mad scramble for superiority in nuclear weapons.

We talked about the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, set up now to negotiate how we might reduce and perhaps eliminate atomic weapons, and I discovered almost by accident that the author of that legislation was Hubert Humphrey.

We talked about the sale of military weapons to other nations, particularly the poor nations, the developing nations, the hungry nations, who respond to the temptations of technological progress and the threats from border states and come to us, above all others, and other nations as well, to buy guns and ammunition to kill.

We are trying to change that policy, and we talked about it and the mechanism under which we are trying to reduce our own participation in the marketing of weapons. It's his legislation.

One of the most difficult questions that a President has to face, or even a Member of Congress, is foreign aid. It's not popular in our country to be for foreign aid programs. But one of the stalwart defenders of our foreign aid program, the leader in the Congress, was Hubert Humphrey. He didn't see foreign aid as a giveaway program. He didn't see foreign aid as billions of dollars going from our Nation to others. He saw human needs.

We talked about the sick people that he had seen overseas, with no medical care at all, and the unbelievable hunger that he had seen in families where the average income for a whole nation was sometimes less than 25 cents a person a day.

So, he saw foreign aid as a great investment from a rich nation, a pittance almost, compared to what we earn and have, that builds up a wellspring of friendship between us and those hungry people.

We talked about the newly developing interest in our own Government toward Africa, not more than a year or two old, but it was not new to Hubert Humphrey. He was familiar with Africa, the nations therein, the people who live there, their hopes and yearnings and frustrations and desire to be something and to have their own governments. He knew about Asia, and he knew about Indonesia, and he talked about these things, not as a lecturer, but almost as a representative of those people, not just Minnesota. He reached beyond our borders.

It was a long time after my mother went to the Peace Corps that I knew that the Peace Corps was Hubert Humphrey's idea. It was an idea that he put forward a long time ago, and it was eventually adopted and put into effect when John Kennedy was President, an opportunity for American young people to go overseas for, I think, $11 a month and get to know other people and serve them. And along with Senator McGovern, he initiated the idea of the Food for Peace program.

He and I talked about religion, about how deep his faith had grown since he became very ill. We talked about sin and how we know that everyone sins and we fall short of the glory of God, but how God forgives us.

Just a few days ago I was in India, and I was visiting the tomb—or the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, where his body was cremated. And I didn't think about Senator Humphrey—I have to admit it-until I started to leave. And one of the Indian leaders took me over to a wall, and there on the wall there was a quote from Gandhi and the title of it was, "The Seven Sins." And when I saw that, I thought about Senator Humphrey's discussion on sin, and I jotted it down.

According to Gandhi, the seven sins are wealth without works, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principle.

Well, Hubert Humphrey may have sinned in the eyes of God, as we all do, but according to those definitions of Gandhi's, it was Hubert Humphrey without sin.

Note: The President spoke at 4:25 p.m. at the House of Hope Presbyterian Church. The services were broadcast live on radio and television.

Jimmy Carter, Hubert H. Humphrey Eulogy Delivered at Funeral Services in St. Paul, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245544

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