Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Television Remarks on the Good Will Tour Delivered at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies.

December 23, 1959

Fellow Americans, at home and overseas: Friends of America; workers for a just peace wherever you may be in the world, whatever your race or flag or tongue or creed:

Once again I have the privilege of lighting the Pageant of Peace Tree on the eve of the Christmas season. This is the season when men and women of all faiths, pausing to listen, gain new heart from the message that filled the heavens over Bethlehem two thousand years ago--

Peace on earth--good will to men.

Every Christmas through the long march of centuries since then, the message has been echoed in the hopes and prayers of humanity.

This Christmas, for me at least those words have clearer meaning, sharper significance, more urgent counsel.

Last night I came home from a trip that carded me to three continents, Africa and Asia and Europe. I visited eleven countries whose populations total a quarter of all mankind.

I wish that every American--certainly every American recognized by his fellows as a leader in any field, and every leader in the countries of the West--could see and hear what I have seen and what I have heard. The mutual understanding thereby created could in itself do much to dissolve the issues that plague the world.

My trip was not undertaken as a feature of normal diplomatic procedures. It was not my purpose either to seek specific agreements or to urge new treaty relationships. My purpose was to improve the climate in which diplomacy might work more successfully; a diplomacy that seeks, as its basic objective, peace with justice for all men.

In the crowds that welcomed my party and me, I saw at close hand the faces of millions--many, indeed most, were poor, weary, worn by toil; but others were young, energetic, eager; the children, as always, bright and excited.

The clothes of a few were as modern as today's Paris and New York; of others, as ancient as the garb of Abraham, often soiled and tattered, although sometimes colorful and romantic to the American eye.

They were Buddhist and Moslem and Hindu and Christian.

But seeing them massed along country roads and city streets from the Eastern shore of the Atlantic to Karachi and Delhi, three things--it seemed to me--united them into one family.

The first--their friendship for America and Americans.

The second--their fervent hope--too long frustrated--for betterment of themselves and of their children.

And third--their deep-seated hunger for peace in freedom.

Of this last, permit me to speak first. It must come first. The assurance of peace in freedom is the key to betterment of peoples everywhere; and in a just peace friendship between all peoples will flourish.

I assure you that all the people I saw and visited want peace-nothing in human affairs can be more certain than that.

I talked with Kings and Presidents, Prime Ministers and humble men and women in cottages and in mud huts. Their common denominator was their faith that America will help lead the way toward a just peace.

They believe that we look and work toward the day when the use of force to achieve political or commercial objectives will disappear--when each country can freely draw on the culture, wisdom, experience of other countries and adapt to its own needs and aspirations what it deems is best and most suitable.

They understand that we look and work toward the day when there can be open and peaceful partnership--communication--interchange of goods and ideas between all peoples; toward the day when each people will make its maximum contribution toward the progress and prosperity of the world.

Such is the world condition which we and all the peoples I visited hope--and pray--to see.

Our concept of the good life for humanity does not require an inevitable conflict between peoples and systems--in which one must triumph over the other. Nor does it offer merely a bare coexistence as a satisfactory state for mankind.

After all, an uneasy coexistence could be as barren and sterile, joyless and stale a life for human beings as the coexistence of cellmates in a penitentiary or a labor camp.

We believe that history, the record of human living, is a great and broad stream into which should pour the richness and diversity of many cultures; from which emerge ideas and practices, ideals and purposes, valid for all.

We believe each people of the human family--even the least in number and the most primitive--can contribute something to a developing world embracing all peoples, enhancing the good of all peoples.

But we recognize--we must recognize--that in the often fierce and even vicious battle for survival--against weather and disease and poverty-some peoples need help. Denied it, they could well become so desperate as to create a world catastrophe.

Now in the ultimate sense, a nation must achieve for itself, by its heart and by its will, the standard of living and the strength needed to progress toward peace with justice and freedom. But where necessary resources and technological skills are lacking, people must be assisted-or all the world will suffer.

In the past, America has been generous. Our generosity has been greeted with gratitude and friendship. On my trip, many millions cried and shouted their testimony to that fact.

No country I visited is short on the greatest of all resources--people of good heart and stout will. And this is especially true of the young. Almost every country is, however, short on the technical knowledge, the skills, the machines, the techniques--and the money--needed to enable their people fully to exploit the natural resources of their lands.

Of course, money alone cannot bring about this progress.

Yet America's own best interests--our own hopes for peace--require that we continue our financial investment and aid; and persuade all other free nations to join us--to the limit of their ability--in a long-term program, dependable in its terms and in its duration.

But more importantly--in the spirit of the Christmas season, that there may be peace on earth, and good will among men--we must as individuals, as corporations, labor unions, professional societies, as communities, multiply our interest, our concern in these peoples. They are now our warm friends. They will be our stout and strong partners for peace and friendship in freedom--if they are given the right sort of help in the right sort of spirit.

The American Government and our allies provide the defensive strength against aggression that permits men of good will to work together for peace. Such strength is an absolute requirement until controlled and safeguarded disarmament allows its reduction, step by step.

Protected by our defensive strength against violent disruption of our peaceful efforts, we are trying to produce a workable, practical program that will make each succeeding Christmas a little closer in spirit and reality to the message of the first Christmas long ago.

This is not a matter of charity for the poverty-stricken nor of easing our own consciences through doles for the distressed. The help we give to our friends is help and strength for the cause of freedom--American freedom--as well as freedom throughout the world.

In giving it, we must be hardheaded but understanding; enlightened in our own interest but sympathetic and generous in the interest of our friends.

Together we should consider all the ways and the forms such help might take. I fervently hope that in this Christmas Season each of you who is listening will give thought to what you can do for another human, identical with you in his divine origin and destiny--however distant in miles or poor in worldly estate.

With that hope, with that prayer, I wish you all happiness and peace in this season, as I light the Nation's Christmas Tree for the Pageant of Peace.

Merry Christmas!

Note: The President spoke at 5:12 p.m. just before lighting the National Community Christmas Tree at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies on the Ellipse.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Remarks on the Good Will Tour Delivered at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235188

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