Richard Nixon photo

Remarks to Officers and Men of the 6th Fleet.

September 29, 1970

Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. Secretary of Defense, Admiral Moorer, officers and men of the 6th Fleet:

I speak today in two capacities, first as one who once served in the United States Navy. I am very proud in that capacity to stand here on the deck of this great carrier and to salute the Navy and very proud of those, that new generation of Americans, who make the American Navy today the great and powerful force which it is.

I speak also in another capacity, a capacity I had no idea I might hold 25 years ago when I was a very junior officer in the United States Navy, as President and Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. And in that capacity I express appreciation to all of the men and the officers of this great Fleet for your service to America--for your service over the years, but particularly for your service of the past 2 weeks which was in the highest tradition of the United States Navy and of our Armed Forces and which also was a demonstration of what the mission of our Navy in the Mediterranean and around the world is at this time in our history.

I have often described our forces, our Navy, Army, and Air Force, as the peace forces of the world. And the 6th Fleet was certainly in that great tradition during this period of tension. The power and the mobility, the readiness of the 6th Fleet in this period was absolutely indispensable in keeping the peace in the Mediterranean.

The fact that it was not necessary to engage in war, something we all wanted to avoid, that fact came into being for a number of reasons. But, again, the most important, indispensable reason was the fact that we were ready with the power exemplified by this mighty Fleet.

The Nation, therefore, expresses appreciation to you for making it possible for America to wage the kind of peace diplomacy we always want to wage, based on power, which is ready but which will be restrained, when it will serve the cause of peace.

As I met a number of the officers and men last night on arriving here on the deck of the Saratoga, I talked to them about their backgrounds and their States, and I was reminded of another generation of men and officers in the Navy, in the Army, and the Marine Corps, that I met during World War II. They had come from many of the same States. In fact, it carried me back to those days and I thought of what we had gone through then, what you are going through now.

I realized that in this whole century, the 20th century, that the United States has yet to enjoy one full generation of peace. We fought World War I, and it was thought by many that that was the war that would end wars. It was not the case.

Before a generation had elapsed we were in World War II. At the end of World War II, with the United Nations, it seemed that we were in a new era in which there would not be another war. That was not true.

Then came Korea. Korea was ended in 1953. We had hopes that that might be the last war for that generation. It was not true.

Now we are in the very difficult war in Vietnam, a war that we are bringing to an end and finding a just and honorable peace. But what we desire, all of us, is a full generation of peace, and more for the American people and the world.

I believe we can have it. But if we can have it, it means that we must have from hundreds of thousands of young men in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force around the world, sometimes in lonely outposts, sometimes on difficult duty, have them ready, have them mobile, have them strong.

The 6th Fleet is that kind of power--a power for peace. I salute you, therefore, as members of the peace forces of the United States, and the world; and because of what you do today, what you have done, what you will .do, I believe that history will look back and say because of what these men did, because of the way they served their country, America and the world did have, finally, a generation of peace.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9: 07 a.m. on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Saratoga. The President's remarks were broadcast to the officers and men of the 6th Fleet. Admiral Thomas H. Moorer was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Richard Nixon, Remarks to Officers and Men of the 6th Fleet. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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