Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at a Breakfast Meeting of the National Cartoonists Society.

June 24, 1954

President Kelly, and members of this distinguished audience:

I am deeply touched by this symbol of membership in your organization. Not only have I been a follower of probably the oldest of all cartoons that have been in American papers; I still read Mutt and Jeff when I can get hold of it. But I have been carefully instructed by the Treasury Department on exactly how much help you have been through the years in selling our bonds on a very broad basis, and trying to get every American to feel definitely that he is a partner in this great enterprise.

Now, let me refer for a moment to your Toastmaster's observations with respect to the timing of social events in Washington. I want to assure him that for official Washington we are about 30 minutes from lunch time--by stomach-time, anyway, even though the Secretary of the Treasury and I have both the National Security Council and a Cabinet meeting lying between us and when we will actually get there.

I would like to point out that this meeting, in a way, in its purpose, illustrates something of the great interdependencies of the modern world. I suppose the unthinking would say that the cartoonist is concerned primarily with a few moments of recreation and enjoyment for his readers--for his clientele--and that is that.

Actually, here we find the very practical job of preserving the Government's credit through the distribution of its bonds and keeping our business on a sound basis. And we have another that has been adverted to this morning: the influence of the cartoonist on the present and future life of America. I am quite certain that every one of us should view with the greatest concern, as we think of our beloved country, what are we teaching our own people; what by example, what by everything we do, are we placing before the adult of today, so that he may gain a better understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the problems that seem to face us every day in international and national life?

And above all, what kind of ideals, what kind of characters are we forming among those who must so quickly take over from all the rest of us?

I have three grandchildren, the eldest 6 and the next one 5, and already I find that Sunday mornings is the big event of their lives. Because then they seem to get more cartoons than normally, and they are on the floor, and they are with them, living with their heroes that they find there in pen and ink and color.

And, gentlemen, I couldn't think of a greater opportunity, as I sat here and contemplated it this morning, that comes to anyone than is in your hands. The church, the school, the home--all of the indispensable agencies trying to implant truth, some wisdom and the great faith that we need, if we are to battle our way through the complex and intricate problems that face us--are all important. And so are you. Because those minds, picking up true values, proper values, from what you place before them, are reinforced in the faith that they get in their schoolrooms, as they repeat the Pledge to the Flag, that they get in the Sunday School room, what they absorb at their mother's knee.

Now, of course, I am not trying to make a perfect instrument out of anything in this world. We are human. And perfection seems, almost, to repel us at times.

By way of complete digression, I had a teacher once, and I thought I was very smart in getting a solution to a problem directly, and I guess I made a little show of myself. He kept me in, and he said, "I want to tell you one thing, young fellow, if you find that you are never wrong in this world, if you want to get along with people, you had better manufacture a situation in which you can be wrong and get up and say it."

That is what I mean. I am not urging that we not be human. Of course we must be human, because only in that way will we appeal to these young minds. But I am not talking about details. I am talking about standards of truth and honesty, and above all, dedication to a principle, and to a country.

So, for the very great honor you have done me in admitting me, along with our Secretary of the Treasury--if we weren't English-speaking people, if we were Latin, I could pause here and go into some ecstasies about the character of our Secretary of the Treasury; but since we are of the English-speaking race, I'll say: he's pretty good.

But, as you do me the honor of admitting me, along with him, to this honorary membership, I assure you that it is not only with the passing pride that you have so complimented me that I accept it, but it is with a very deep appreciation that I now belong--even if only on this basis-to a group that can and I know will do much to keep our country straight and true and strong in the future.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke in the auditorium of the Perpetual Building Association in Washington. His opening words "President Kelly" referred to Walt Kelly, President of the Society and toastmaster for the occasion, who presented President Eisenhower with an engraved T-square as a symbol of his honorary membership.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at a Breakfast Meeting of the National Cartoonists Society. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232223

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