Richard Nixon photo

Remarks Opening Expo '74, Spokane, Washington.

May 04, 1974

Governor Evans, Secretary Dent, Congressman Foley, Your Excellencies representing the nations from abroad, Your Eminence, all of the distinguished guests and all of those here on this historic occasion for the opening of Expo '74:

I am honored to be here for a number of reasons: First, because the State of Washington, under the leadership of Governor Evans, I think is generally recognized to be the first State in the Nation in terms of trying to protect the environment. We congratulate this State, its Governor, and its legislators.

And then, it is a great privilege to be here on this sparkling, beautiful day to speak about what this particular occasion means, not only for now and the days ahead in this summer--when I hope that hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, will come to see it but, looking down through the pages of history perhaps to the year 2000, 25 years from now, when we celebrate a new year that comes once in 1,000 years and when we look back to see what we did now to make that a new year that was not only the greatest new year for America but for every nation in the world.

Today, we speak of the environment in terms--as we should---of cleaning up the air and water, of a legacy of parks, of all of those other things that have to do with making our cities and our towns and our countryside more beautiful for our children and those that follow us.

The environment means all those things, but environment also means other things to people. It means, for example, for every family in America a job so that he can enjoy the environment around him. And there are those who sometimes say that the two are in conflict, that it is impossible to have a great, productive society like America--the most industrialized nation in the world--and a clean environment.

We have gone through a period in the energy crisis when there have been evidences that these two great interests--one, production which would provide jobs, and two, a clean environment--seem to come in conflict. But let me tell you what the answer is. We can have both, and we shall have both. And the way we can have both is to develop the great resources of this country in a way that they will not pollute the atmosphere, that they will contribute to a clean environment.

And that is why we are going forward in terms of our huge Government programs in research and development for the purpose of seeing that our coal resources can be developed into a clean fuel. That is why we are going forward in our programs for the development of solar energy and nuclear power which, of course, would be clean fuel.

And I can assure all of you here that your Federal Government, working with the States, working with private enterprise, can and will achieve the goal of not only a better and cleaner environment in terms of our water and our air but also the jobs, the opportunity for all Americans that is so important for us to enjoy an environment.

Another aspect of environment that occurs to each of us, of course, is what this magnificent Expo is going to leave as a legacy. It will leave, I trust, some of these beautiful buildings. It will leave a 100-acre park in the heart of the city of Spokane, which was once a blighted area. These will be physical monuments to what you, the citizens of Spokane and the State of Washington, have done in putting on Expo '74.

But beyond those material things, it will leave something else, and that is a new spirit. And what impressed me as I read about how this Expo came about was that the idea did not come from Washington, D.C., it came from Washington State. Those who worked on it, those who conceived it, and most of the money that went into it, came from the people. And to the people of this State we give you the congratulations for a magnificent achievement.

And it is that spirit, that spirit of individual enterprise, that spirit of doing things and not depending upon someone else to do them for you, it is that spirit that developed the West and the Northwest. It is that spirit that will continue to make America a great nation, we trust, in the years ahead.

There is one other aspect of the environment to which I should like to refer, and it is particularly appropriate that I refer to it in the presence of these very distinguished representatives from the other nations who have exhibits here for Expo '74.

We can have good jobs and fine security and good health and clean air and clean water, and it will make no difference unless we find a way for the great nations of the world to settle their differences at the conference table and not on the battlefield. And that is why we have opened, as you know, negotiations with those who might have been our adversaries, negotiations which did not mean that either we or they agreed with each other in terms of philosophy, but negotiations that had one overriding concern, and that is this: World War I was destructive, World War II was destructive; there cannot be world war III, because it will destroy not only the nations that participate in it, it will destroy civilization as we know it, and we cannot let that happen, and we will not let it happen. That is what we must do if we are to have the kind of environment that we want for the future.

And now in the presence of the representative from the Soviet Union--as he knows, I will soon be having another round of talks with Mr. Brezhnev and his colleagues in Moscow. We will not agree on all things, we will have sharp debates, but let me tell you this: Whether it is with him or whether it is with leaders of other countries they are allied with or neutral countries in the world, there is no disagreement with regard to the need for all nations to cooperate, share their knowledge and their brains in cleaning up the environment of the world. We are not just talking about the environment of Spokane or the State of Washington or of the United States but of this whole globe on which we live. And that is a great enterprise that Expo '74 will be remembered for in the years ahead.

Because, as we look at where the great ideas, the great breakthroughs come which deal with the scourges which have afflicted mankind from the beginning of civilization, we find that no one can predict that it will come from one nation or from one continent or from one race, because that spark of genius might be in the Americas, it might be in Asia, it might be in Latin America, it might be in Africa. What we have to realize is that among the 3 billion people that live on this Earth, there are those men and women who have within themselves that genius that will find new answers that will help us to get the clean air and the clean water and all the other things that we want to have a clean environment.

And going further than that, in that whole world we must recognize that that spark of genius that will find the answer to the diseases that plague mankind, it may not be here in America, it may be in some other country. But the important thing for us to remember in this period when we have ended America's longest war and when we are moving through a generation and longer of peace, let us see that not just America but all nations, whatever their differences in philosophy, work together to clean up the environment, work together in the causes of peace, and in that way, we will make the progress that we want to make by the year 2000 which the whole human race can enjoy.

No national pride should be taken in the fact that one nation or another finds the answer to what may cure cancer in its various aspects, what may deal with some aspects of heart disease and many of the others that afflict mankind.

No one nation can take any jingoistic pride in the fact that one of its scientists or one of its technicians found an answer to the problem of a cleaner environment.

What we must do is to recognize that it is together, working together, thinking together, that we will find answers that we would never find if we were not talking to each other, negotiating with each other. And that is why I say to you, my friends gathered here on this magnificent day in the State of Washington, in the city of Spokane, you are dedicated to a great goal, celebrating a new and fresh environment for tomorrow. What will that tomorrow be, and for all those who are young and who will be here to celebrate that new year 25, 26 years from now?

I will tell you what I think it can be, and this is a beginning: It can be a time when the whole world can look back on progress in conquering the scourges of disease that have afflicted all people wherever they may live. We can look back on a period when the whole world enjoyed the benefits of what our scientists and engineers were able to find out in terms of making our air and our water cleaner and better for everybody.

But most important, let us hope and let us pray on this day that we can look back and say that over that 25 years, the peoples of the world, despite their differences in philosophy, lived together in peace. Let this be a day in which we concentrate, and consecrate as well, not only our efforts in America but also working with peoples in other nations toward the goal of a fresh, new environment in terms of peace for all mankind so that we can enjoy the magnificent environment that you see around us here today.

Thank you.

MARVIN MILLER (master of ceremonies). Ladies and gentlemen, as the fair officially opens, we invite you to celebrate with us "Tomorrow's Fresh, New Environment."

Mr. President, will you say the magic words.

THE PRESIDENT. At I e noon on this day, acting in my capacity as President of the United States, it is my high honor and privilege to declare Expo '74 officially open to all the citizens of the world.

Note: The President spoke at 11:46 a.m. at the Washington State Pavilion.

In his opening words, the President referred to the Commissioners General representing countries having exhibits at the exposition. Also present on the dais was His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America.

Following the opening ceremonies, the President attended a reception in the art gallery of the Washington State Pavilion.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Opening Expo '74, Spokane, Washington. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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