Remarks to the Staff of the United States Information Agency.
Mr. Streibert, ladies and gentlemen:
I can't think of any really good reason to give you for absorbing this much of your time this afternoon. The only excuse I have is that I wanted to see you, in an effort to give some expression-no matter how faint--to my convictions as to the importance of your job.
This conviction is a very old one with me. Someone reminded me today that it was more than 11 years ago that I went across the Atlantic to assume heavy duties in connection with World War II. From that time on I have often been abroad and spent a great deal of time there. It has been almost frustrating to realize how little people in so many areas--and many of them classed as normally well-educated people--knew about the United States. And this had very grave consequences from time to time.
I became one of those who believe that this Government could not conduct satisfactory foreign relationships unless it did something very positive in the way of letting the world know: ( a ) what is deep in the American heart; (b) what is the general psychological reaction of Americans to a given set of human problems; and (c) what are the qualities or the motives that characterize the things--inspire the things, America is trying to do in the world.
We in our Fourth of July speeches say America seeks no dominion over others, she believes in the dignity of man. We say all the real things. And we believe them. They are true. But when you hear some of these things said to a foreigner, and he just replies "Propaganda," and walks off, you realize that something is wrong.
Now this organization, it seems to me, has so many qualifications to meet that you are almost a group--you are almost individuals set apart from all others. First you must know what Americanism really is. You have got to know that here a government, of, by, and for free men, is based solidly on some religious concept, for the simple reason that otherwise we cannot prove equality among men.
You have got to know something of the history of your country, how we came to what we are. You have got to believe with all your soul that it is this kind or this type of government and system that will allow people to reach the greatest degree of temporal happiness, at least, of which we are capable. That we can seek to express ourselves, to realize all that is within us, not only for ourselves but for those we love, our families, our friends, and that we realize also this can be done only in a world that has an equal right to its own government of its own choice.
If others should happen to take governments--forms of government-in which we do not believe, that is all right. But how are they going to be won from that? By learning, through absorption, and from seeing and from hearing how our system works.
Put it this way: we are now conducting a cold war. That cold war must have some objective, otherwise it would be senseless. It is conducted in the belief that if there is no war, if two systems of government are allowed to live side by side, that ours because of its greater appeal to men everywhere--to mankind--in the long run will win out; that it will defeat all forms of dictatorial government because of its greater appeal to the human soul, the human heart, the human mind.
So you have got to understand all these things in all their ramifications. Certainly I am not here trying to give you a lecture on the American dream and the American system. Most of you have to think about it each day. But I am saying, first you have got to understand it, then you have got to believe it, and then you have to live it.
Now, as I see it, you, therefore, have as your governmental job the thing that every American ought to be. But you have got to symbolize it. Every American standing before the world can scarcely consider that he is doing his full duty to his country unless he shows this belief in Americanism, and realizes that he is showing himself to others as the product of that system. He is one of those that this system has produced.
Now you, members of the United States Information Agency, have the job of making certain that all Americans will want to do this, and that it will be done so well, not in a dictatorial, not in an overbearing, not in a condescending way, but in the simple matter of living, and talking. It will be done so that others will understand the honesty of our purposes, the integrity of our position, and will in the long run, in this cold war, come to believe more and more in this form of government.
And then finally we can, I think, describe the objective of the cold war as to maintain some kind of arrangement for getting along in this world until enough of all the world's people come to believe with you, with us, that the things for which the Americans stand are those things which enrich human life, which ennoble man because he is an individual created in the image of his God and trying to do his best on this earth.
Now certainly I would not prescribe my own effort as a model for any of you. What you are here for is so important, what you are going to do and what you are doing is of such significance not only to us but to the world, to peace, that the last word I should like to say is this--my pledge of support: no one who serves in this organization with what his chiefs or his associates say is decency and to the best of his ability is ever going to suffer if I can help it. On the contrary, I shall try to do my best to pin the accolade of a "well done" to every such person. And it is because I believe from all the descriptions that Mr. Streibert and others responsible here have told me, because I believe you not only can achieve it but that you are on the road to doing it, that I come here to say good luck to each of you, and this administration is with you. Go ahead and do your chores, and you will earn everything the Government could possibly give you.
Good luck, and goodbye.
Note: The President spoke at 2:58 p.m. in the Department of the Interior Auditorium. In his opening words he referred to Theodore C. Streibert, Director of the United States Information Agency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks to the Staff of the United States Information Agency. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232368