Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Arrival in San Clemente, California

August 24, 1972

We want to express our very great appreciation to all of you for this very wonderful welcome. When we were flying in here by the helicopter I was told, that after we had had a crowd of about 15,000 down at San Diego, that a few friends were going to visit us here at San Clemente. I am glad we have so many friends right at home. We thank you very much for coming.

Also you have seen Pat, my wife, and here is Tricia, born in Whittier, and Ed Cox.

I know that the hour is late. I know, too, as I saw all those cars parked, how hard it was for you to get here and how long you have been here. I want to say to everybody here that, as you know, I have done a lot of traveling over the past few years. I was just thinking of today. I started this morning in Miami at the Homestead Air Force Base where I saw about 500 GI's who were from Fort Bragg and shook hands with a lot of them before they went back to duty up there.

Then we flew to Chicago where we had a great crowd with the American Legion, 5,000 at McCormick Place. Then we flew over to Detroit. Then by helicopter, another 20 minutes, to a city about the size of Whittier where I dedicated a new high school, the Dwight Eisenhower High School. We had an opportunity to see there 2,500 inside, 10,000 outside. Then on to San Diego where we had a marvelous crowd at the airport. Then home again.

All of these places are wonderful places. I know that I can't select one from the other, but to come back here and find the mayor of Whittier, the mayor of Yorba Linda, the mayor of Fullerton, and the mayor of San Clemente and all of our friends from this area means the most of all. We thank you for that, too.

I want you to know that each brings back a memory: Yorba Linda, the town I was born in. I was there until I was through the fifth grade. Then we moved over to Whittier, I went to the East Whittier Grammar School from the fifth to the eighth grade. It was the one, you remember, in the Long Beach earthquake that was knocked down and they had to rebuild it. It is still a fine school. Then I went to Fullerton High School my first 2 years. That is when I met Arky Vaughan, whom I put on my all-star team for baseball. He was a great football player in Fullerton in those days, and became a star for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then I went to Whittier High School for the next 2, and then to Whittier College for 4 years, and then after that to law school at Duke, and back to Whittier where Pat and I met. We were married, Tricia was born. Then came the war, and in 1947 back to Congress.

Since then in those past 25 years we have been all across this country, every one of the 50 States. We have been to 80 countries around the world. We have been to countries that no President of the United States has ever seen before or visited before. We have been to the People's Republic of China, to Peking, of course, as you know. We were in Moscow, the first President ever to go to Moscow. We were in Romania--Bucharest--the first President ever to visit there. We were also in Warsaw in Poland, the first President to go there.

These travels were extremely interesting. They, of course, had one very great purpose. What they really were about, they were about all of you, and particularly this younger generation. Oh, I don't mean that we in the older generation don't matter, too, because all of us vote and all of us care, but what we are trying to build--and I saw the sign as we came in here, "House of Peace," that is the name of our house, Casa Pacifica--what we are trying to build in the world today is a world of peace. That is not easy because there are many differences in the world between governments.

The Communist governments see the world very differently from us, and they always will as long as they are Communists and as long as we are free.

But at a time when we have nuclear weapons in the world we just have to find a way where there can be differences between governments without having people have to fight wars about them. Because if the great powers engage in a war there won't be any more wars, because that is going to be the last one--there are not going to be people to fight a war.

Now, to talk in such melodramatic terms, of course, points up the issue. Let me put it in a more hopeful note.

As we have gone to these countries, I have had very, very hard negotiating sessions with the Russians, of course, on the limitation of nuclear arms and on more positive things: exchange in the field of science and cooperation in the field of health, in space, and other things. The same is true with regard to an historic visit to the People's Republic of China.

But the reason that I could take this trip as the President of the United States was that the United States was respected, respected f, or what it stood for and respected because it was strong. Now, as long as the world does have in it, as it does now and as it will for the foreseeable future, governments that do disagree, as we disagree, and many others in the free world, with the Communist governments, it is essential that the United States, as the only nation in the free world with the power to keep the peace, it is essential that the United States be strong.

The only way that you can negotiate is to be sure that the President of the United States is respected and that he does not represent a country that is weaker than whoever is on the other side of that negotiating table.

Let me just say one thing: I have great respect for the Chinese people. I have great respect for the Russian people. I have respect for their leaders. I don't agree with their leaders, and they don't agree with me. But I don't want to have the President of the United States, whoever he is, to sit down across the table from the leaders of those countries representing-as the President of the United States--I don't want to see him ever representing the second strongest nation in the world.

So, you see, that is why I told the American Legion, and that is why I told those young GI's who were from Fort Bragg that I was proud of them. I think we have had enough of running down our men who have served their country rather than deserting it and running off to Canada. I think we ought to stand up for those who have served.

I can tell you we are going to do everything we can in the cause of peace. We have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, and we will travel more, in the cause of peace. We have already made this a safer world. It means these young people right here--I see one here is about the age I was when I finished the fifth grade in Yorba Linda. I want them to be able to go to the mainland of China, as I did. That could not have happened when I was a youngster, but you are going to be able to do it.

The world is going to be more open. You are going to know people, wonderful people all over the world. That is one of the things we have been able to do.

I have heard a lot of you say something about "Four More Years," I simply want to say why. Why do we want four more years? So that we can continue to make this breakthrough for peace. I think I have learned how to negotiate. I think I know what we want and what they want. I think I know the next steps that can be taken. I know that we have to be strong, and yet I know that we have to negotiate.

With that experience, I want to have the chance to continue the work that we have done so that the world can be safer, so that we can reduce the burden of arms, so that we can have a real peace in the world that will last longer than a generation.

This is what the goal is all about: so that we can have here in America an America in which we can have jobs without inflation, without war, in which we can have an attack on all the problems of the environment and health and education that we want to work on, make this a better country, a freer country, and one primarily of opportunity.

That allows me to conclude with a little personal note. We have many wonderful people who come to the White House to entertain--incidentally, before I mention them, let's give a hand to those wonderful bands that have entertained us here tonight. Haven't they been great? We had one group, it was a black group, a singing and dancing group that came from Los Angeles. They made a big hit. After the entertainment, which was in the famous East Room in the White House, I walked up to the stage and I shook hands with the leader of the band. I said, "Thank you very much. We are honored to have you in the White House." He got up to the microphone and he said that he and his group were honored to play in the White House.

Then he went on to say, "You know, I never thought it would happen." He said, "It's a long way from Watts to the White House." You know, he was right. But then I got up and I said, "You know you are right. It is a long way from Watts to the White House, but it is also a long way from Whittier to the White House."

I just want to say, let's build a country in which our young people can grow up in peace. Let's build a country in which any young person, a boy or a girl, if he is an American, an American citizen, whatever his background, has a chance to go to the top. That is what America is all about. The American dream can never come true unless it has a possibility to come true in the lives of anyone who is an American citizen. That is what we believe in. That is what we want you to vote for. That is what that "Four More Years" is all about.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:17 p.m. in front of the Western White House. He spoke without referring to notes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Arrival in San Clemente, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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