Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Manlio Brosio, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

September 29, 1971

Ladies and gentlemen:

In this room are men and women who have had an enormous interest for over 25 years in NATO and, consequently, who will well understand why we have selected the Secretary General as the first man in this Administration to receive the Medal of Freedom, other than, of course, an American.

The Medal of Freedom, as a matter of fact, Mr. Secretary General, has been presented only to three others than those who are American citizens. In presenting it to you today, I think that I would like to be permitted a personal word.

It is the Medal of Freedom, and freedom and NATO certainly go very well together, because when we think of NATO--why it was set up, what it has accomplished--it has been a great instrument in support and defense of freedom. The Medal today, however, in view of your service and in view of what NATO has done for 25 years and what it will do and can do in the future, could be described as the Medal of Peace.

In presenting it to you, it could very well be described as the Medal of Peace, because for 25 years NATO's strength has never been used and has never been maintained for the purpose of threatening the peace, but always to keep the peace. And NATO continues to be strong and will be kept strong for peace and for freedom.

All of us who know the Secretary General, who knew him before he became Secretary General and before he served-longer in that position than anyone else who has held that position--know of his labors in the cause of peace through the years, the years that he was Ambassador to this country, the years that he was Ambassador to the Soviet Union and to other major countries, one of the truly great diplomats of the world; a man who has given his public life to the service of peace and then capped it finally as Secretary, General for NATO, an instrument for peace, of course, as well as an instrument for freedom.

So it is with very great pride, as representing the people of the United States, as a member of the NATO community, but also pride personally as one who has been privileged to know the Secretary General for almost 20 years, to make this presentation today of the Medal of Freedom. I shall read the citation now:


A distinguished diplomat, he has nobly served freedom in the world as Secretary General of the North At]antic Treaty Organization. He has won the highest respect in his untiring work for both defense and detente, and he has performed his task with exceptional skill, perseverance, and fairness. In his dedication to the cause of comity among nations, Manlio Brosio has demonstrated that those who work to keep the peace are as blessed as the peacemakers.

[At this point, Secretary General Brosio spoke. The President then resumed speaking.]

Ladies and gentlemen, I know that all of you would like to meet and congratulate the Secretary General. We will he glad to receive you, those who can work it into your schedule, at the entrance to the State Dining Room at this time.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:25 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

On the same day, the White House released a biography of Mr. Brosio and a fact sheet on the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Brosio responded to the President's remarks as follows:

Mr. President:

I am honored, happy, and proud of this distinction you have awarded to me more than I could ever say. It is for me an undeserved and, in any case, an unexpected privilege to receive the Medal of Freedom after the few Europeans who have already received it, and alongside such personalities as Paul Henri Spaak and Jean Monnet, two names which represent, in my mind, the highest virtue and merit of great European and great Atlantic men to a degree which I have always admired and by far never reached.

Another special reason of satisfaction for me is to receive this award from you, Mr. President, and as far as I know, as the first European to whom you have presented it. You know, Mr. President, that our acquaintance is not recent. You mentioned it. It goes back to the time when, in '55, you were Vice President, and after those 6 years of my mission as Ambassador of Italy in Washington, to the intermediate 7 years in which you were preparing your comeback, and our relationship continued.

In all that time, my admiration and trust in you has never failed, and in these last years of Presidential responsibility, facing tremendous world and national problems, old and new, it has never diminished. Indeed, it has increased with the size of your difficulties and of your statesmanlike courage.

So my thanks to you today are genuine, and strengthened by a personal touch which I hope you appreciate. But I believe that the deepest reason for my satisfaction today is my conviction that your generous gesture is directed not only, and perhaps not mainly, toward a man worthy or unworthy, as he may be, but to an institution and to a policy. I see it as a reaffirmation of fidelity and attachment to the Atlantic Alliance as the main foundation of the foreign policy of the United States and of free Europe.

Of this fidelity and attachment, you have given during your term of office repeated demonstrations in deeds and in significant gestures. Your first visit to Europe at the very beginning of your term in 1969 was to Brussels and to the seat and the Council of NATO. Later on, when the problems of the Mediterranean and of American forces in Europe required your attention, you met with us in Naples and reassured us of your unfailing support.

Now, as I withdraw from NATO, you have chosen to stress again the basic importance of the links the United States has with it. This is most appropriate in a moment of great hopes and of great uncertainty in our Western free world. The might of the Warsaw Pact is growing. The trade and monetary difficulties within the free world are now at a serious turning point. The situation in the Middle East is difficult, and in the Far East is obscure. The third world is anxious and restless.

At the same time, we are today as near as we have ever been to the promising possibility of real negotiations and honest understanding between East and West and Europe, which requires all our good will and our attention.

In these critical moments, critical in a positive, no less and indeed even more than in a disturbing, sense, the link between Europe and North America remains vital and decisive. We must overcome our differences and draw from their settlement a stronger basis for pursuing and accomplishing together our unfulfilled mission of civilization: peace and freedom.

I am stepping down today, a small wheel in a continuing movement, which can easily be replaced. Your recognition will remain with me not only as a cherished memory but as a pledge for all of us, a pledge of loyalty and solidarity between Americans and Europeans.
Thank you very much.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Manlio Brosio, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives