Remarks Introducing Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom and on Receiving an Honorary Degree at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri
President McCluer, Governor Donnelly, ladies and gentlemen: You know, this is one of the greatest pleasures and privileges I have had since I have been President of the United States. [applause]
I appreciate most highly Governor Donnelly's welcome to Mr. Churchill and myself, and I am very thankful that Dr. McCluer suggested to me that Mr. Churchill be invited to deliver this lecture today. [applause] I had a letter from Mr. Churchill—oh, six months ago or more—in which he said he was considering a vacation in the United States, or in North Africa. [laughter]
I sent him Dr. McCluer's invitation, and made a long-hand note on the bottom of it, telling him that if he would spend his vacation in the United States, at whatever point he chose to pick, and then would deliver this lecture, I would make it a point to come to Missouri and personally welcome him and introduce him for that lecture. [applause]
I had never met Mr. Churchill personally until the Berlin Conference between Mr. Stalin, Mr. Churchill and myself. I became very fond of both of them, They are men, and they are leaders in this world today, when we need leadership.
It's a pleasure to me to introduce Mr. Churchill. He's one of the great men of the age.
He's a great Englishman [applause]— he's a great Englishman, but he is half American! [laughter and applause]
Mr. Churchill and I believe in freedom of speech. I understand that Mr. Churchill is gonna talk on "The Sinews Of Peace." I know that he will have something constructive to say to the world in that speech.
I am happy that he came here to deliver it, and it's one of the great privileges of my lifetime to be able to present to you that great world citizen, Winston Churchill.
[Prime Minister Churchill then delivered his address on "The Sinews Of Peace."]
[The Degree of Doctor of Laws was then conferred upon the President, who then spoke again as follows:]
Dr. McCluer, members of the faculty of this great institution, ladies and gentlemen: I highly appreciate this honor. I hope I deserve it. I want to deserve it.
We do live in perilous times. There never was a time in the history of the world when leadership is so necessary. There never was a time in the history of the world when a moral awakening is so necessary. There never was a time in the history of the world when it becomes your duty and mine to see that this Charter of the United Nations—as Mr. Churchill has just said so ably and so eloquently— is implemented as the law of the land end the law of the world.
We are either headed for complete destruction, or we are facing the greatest age in history.
It is up to you to decide which path we follow.
It is up to me to attempt to see that we follow the path toward that great age and not toward destruction. And that is what I have dedicated my life to do. [applause]
The release of atomic energy as a result of the efforts of Great Britain, Canada and the United States in the late war has given us a force which means happiness and the welfare of every human being on the face of the earth, or it means the total destruction of civilization.
I prefer to think that we have the ability, the moral stamina and the energy, to see that that great age comes about, instead of destruction. That's the way I feel about it.
I thank you. [great applause]
Source: The New York Times, March 5, 1971.
Harry S. Truman, Remarks Introducing Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom and on Receiving an Honorary Degree at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354083