Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the "Industry Salute to the Federal Housing Administration" Dinner.

June 18, 1959

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, My Fellow Americans:

My part in this program is a very simple one--to say Happy Birthday to the Federal Housing Administration and to thank the members of that organization and all of those people of the industries who cooperate with the FHA in producing homes for America.

But in this word of thanks, I would like to be, with your permission, just a little bit more specific. First, because of the degree of enjoyment that I felt in heating the glee club of VMI, I would like to thank that club by paying to its school, its alma mater, a little tribute. Here is a school which cherishes in its traditions the fact that Stonewall Jackson was one of its instructors. It is a school--and the only school I think in history--where the entire student body marched to the battlefield and conducted itself gallantly in such a battle. I am not too sure of my memory, but I think it was the battle of New Market.

It is a school that has given to the United States and to the Armed Services many of its most distinguished members. Among these distinguished members is one man who in World War II stood out as one of the great soldiers, and later one of the great statesmen in our time: George Catlett Marshall. He was both a patriot, a distinguished soldier, and the most selfless public servant that I ever met. Any school that can boast of products like General Marshall and all his associates who were so valuable in the wars and, indeed, in peacetime service to this country, is indeed a distinguished institution, and one that we certainly will nourish as long as there is an America.

Now, I want to make my word of thanks a little bit more specific to you people here tonight. I was impressed by the financial statement that Dr. Saulnier gave us about the financial record of the FHA. He said it was remarkable. I say in a Government like this, it was miraculous. And, if there is one special word of thanks that I could then extend to the FHA, it is for doing this job in a way that it wasn't the taxpayer who had to carry the bill.

But to you people, who have carried your own enterprises within the field of competitive free enterprise, you have done a great service. I am told that before the time of the FHA, the typical purchaser of a home put about 40 percent of the purchase price as a down payment, and normally financed his debt with at least a 6½ percent interest. During the period since the change in those conditions has taken place, we have become truly a nation of home owners. A home owner owns part of the public street in front of his home, part of the village square and the village park, part of the school. He is indeed a citizen of the United States, and a man who owns in his own right a part of it.

I believe that we can measure the strength of the United States in the same tempo as we see this percentage of home ownership by its citizens go up and up. Indeed I think there is no more valuable purchase that any man could make except a home--with one single exception. That exception is, for the man, the purchase of a wedding ring. That wedding ring is the inspiration for the home and for purchasing it.

So, because of these feelings, I express to each of you, personally, and as far as I am able officially as part of the Government of the United States, appreciation for what you are doing in cooperation with the FHA to make us more and more and more a nation of home owners--happy home owners.

Thank you.

Note: The dinner honoring the Federal Housing Administration's 25th anniversary was held at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, Washington, D.C. The President's opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to Aksel Nielsen, President of the Mortgage Investments Co., Denver, Colo., and chairman of the sponsoring committee, which represented 15 industrial organizations cooperating in the work of FHA. Later in his remarks the President referred to Raymond J. Saulnier, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, who also addressed the group.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the "Industry Salute to the Federal Housing Administration" Dinner. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235016

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