Ronald Reagan picture

Radio Address to the Nation on the Trip to Europe

June 05, 1982

Good day to you all in America:

Maybe I should say "bonjour." I'm speaking to you from the Palace of Versailles right outside Paris, France, and I'm not over here on a vacation. Along with the leaders of the other democratic industrial nations, I'm attending an economic summit, the eighth one in as many years.

Versailles holds significance for the American people beyond its art treasures and architecture. This imposing structure has strong links to our own history. Within these walls Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin concluded an alliance without which our Revolution's outcome might have been very different. And in 1783 the Treaty of Versailles, which led to the formal recognition of America's independence from England, was signed here.

Now, I don't want to give you a history lesson, but the Versailles Peace Conference, which settled World War I, also greatly affected us as a nation. That conference marked America's emergence as a leader and a world power.

All these historical links between the United States and Versailles involve alliance and friendship—and really, that's what we're doing here again. This time we're discussing economic cooperation. I can assure you our partners are as determined as we are to overcome economic ills and create incentives for employment, investment, and productivity. And they also realize that economic growth is essential to the long term well-being of the industrial countries.

In our meetings, we are trying to work out ways we can reach those goals together and without stepping on each others' toes. Yes, the countries attending the summit do have economic problems, but look how far we've come.

Out of the ruins of the last great wars, we have built thriving democracies, solid friendships, and fundamentally sound economies. We have a right to be proud of our contributions to the economic strength of these industrial democracies. Today is the 35th anniversary of the Marshall plan, a program that shines as an example of how we've worked for the betterment of our sister democracies. I think it's appropriate that this anniversary occurs here among our friends. Our presence demonstrates America's continuing commitment to the democracies of Europe, Japan, and Canada.

After we leave France we go to the Vatican to call upon His Holiness The Pope and to Rome to visit the Government and people of Italy. Italy is a [firm and warm]1 friend of the United States, and we couldn't be in the area without stopping by.

1 White House correction.

And then back on the plane, and we're off to England, a nation whose American ties are as thick as its fog. The next summit we attend is the NATO gathering in Bonn, West Germany. As you know, NATO's origins go back to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 which provided for a defensive military alliance of Western Europe and North America, as well as political and economic cooperation. It is this Alliance and its deterrent strength that has kept the peace for the past 33 years. At the NATO summit, we'll work to preserve that peace by strengthening our defenses and demonstrating the Alliance's firm resolve.

The happiest event of the meeting will be Spain's addition to the list of NATO members. A democratic country has freely chosen to join other nations in an alliance for their common defense. This has real significance. Did any nation in Eastern Europe freely choose to join the Warsaw Pact? Not one.

Just as it's fitting that the anniversary of the Marshall plan occurs during the economic summit, it's also meaningful that NATO meets the week of the D-Day anniversary.

One lesson of D-Day is as clear now as it was 38 years ago: Only strength can deter tyranny and aggression. The dawn that rose on the English Channel that June morning revealed a horizon alive with thousands of ships, the largest armada in history. From England, the long-awaited message went around the world. Under the command of General Eisenhower, allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing allied armies on the northern coast of France. It was a simple statement, but the operation had been years in the planning.

In the United States, the news came in the middle of the night. But here and there in sleepy towns, lights, nonetheless, came on. President Roosevelt called the people to prayer. "Almighty God, our sons, the pride of our nation, this day have set out upon a mighty endeavor .... "

Well, it was a mighty endeavor, an endeavor of liberty, sacrifice, and valor. As we honor these men, I pledge to do my utmost to carry out what must have been their wish—that no other generation of young men would ever have to repeat their sacrifice in order to preserve freedom.

This is the last of this series of radio broadcasts, but I'll be back before too long. Until then, thanks for listening, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 6:05 p.m. from the Palace of Versailles, Paris, France. His address was broadcast on radio stations in the United States at 12:05 p.m,

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on the Trip to Europe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives