Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies.

December 17, 1954

[Broadcast over radio and television at 5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Secretary, and members of this audience, my fellow citizens, at home and across the seas; my fellow men and women of all the Americas, and of all nations:

Christmastide is a season of hope--of heartening hope--for peace on earth, good will among men. This year, even as two thousand years ago, when the Prince of Peace was born into the world, the drums of war are stilled. In their silence, after a whole generation of almost ceaseless beating, many people--already become fathers and mothers-enjoy the first peaceful Christmas they have known. So--mankind's unquenchable hope for peace burns brighter than for many years.

Our hope, true enough, is blemished by some brutal facts. Oppression, privation, cruel suffering of body and mind imposed on helpless victims-these scourges still wound in too many places the daily living of mankind.

Even at this happy season, we dare not forget crimes against justice, denial of mercy, violation of human dignity. To forget is to condone and to provoke new outrage.

Neither dare we forget our blessings. To count them is to gain new courage and new strength, a firmer patience under test and a stouter faith in the decency of man and in the providence of God.

Among the greatest of man's blessings this Christmas is his strengthened hope of lasting peace. But hope without works is the prelude to disillusionment. They, whose cause is just, must be prepared to meet the harsh challenge of inertia; privation; despair; statism; materialism. This bright Christmas must not be followed--ever--by a Christmas of universal tragedy.

We Americans know that a mighty part of promoting and serving peace is ours to do. With our friends we must enlarge the design of our partnership so that we, who marched together in evil days when war and fear of war darkened the earth, shall enjoy together in days of light the rich rewards of a secure and stable era.

There are some who have believed it possible to hold themselves aloof from today's worldwide struggle between those who uphold government based upon human freedom and dignity, and those who consider man merely a pawn of the state. The times are so critical and the difference between these world systems so vital and vast that grave doubt is cast upon the validity of neutralistic argument. Yet we shall continue faithfully to demonstrate our complete respect for the right of self-decision by these neutrals. Moreover, because they hate aggression and condemn war for conquest, even as we, there is provided a strong foundation upon which we can proceed with them to build mutual understanding and sympathy.

Now, with those who stand against us, in fear or in ignorance of our intentions, we have chosen the hard way of patient, tireless search in every avenue that may lead to their better understanding of our peaceful purposes. They know, as well as we, that the world is large enough, the skills of man great enough, to feed and to clothe and to house mankind in plenty and in peace. This universal knowledge could be the fruitful beginning of a prosperous life together.

America speaks from strength--strength in good allies., in arms, in readiness, in ever-increasing productivity, in the broader sharing of the abundant fruits of our economy, in our unchanging devotion to liberty and to human justice. Her voice is for peace based upon decency and right. But let no man think that we want peace at any price; that we shall forsake principle in resigned tolerance of evident evil; or that we may pawn our honor for transitory concession.

At this Christmas season, America speaks too in humble gratitude for the friendship of peaceful peoples across the world. Without their warm confidence and faithful partnership, this earth would be a bleak ground of aimless and endless clash and conflict.

And America joins with all believers of every faith in a prayer of thanks and a plea that, whatever lies ahead, we may be strong and courageous and wise in the doing of our own task in accord with the Divine will.

To all the dwellers of the earth, I speak for this Republic--and directly from the heart of every one of its citizens--when I say that this Nation prays for you--all of you--the fullness of the Christmas spirit, peace and good will.

And now, please permit me a personal note. My wife and I wish to all of you here, and to all peoples everywhere, a very merry Christmas. As I light the Nation's Christmas tree, "God rest you . . . Let nothing you dismay."

And now, good night and again, Merry Christmas!

Note: The President spoke just before lighting the National Community Christmas Tree at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies on the Ellipse. His opening words "Mr. Secretary" referred to Douglas McKay, Secretary of the Interior.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the Pageant of Peace Ceremonies. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233476

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