Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at the Truman Library During a Visit With the Former President.

March 21, 1969

Mr. President and Mrs. Truman, ladies and gentlemen:

I have a very special purpose and honor today and that is to present to President Truman the piano that he used when he was in the White House during the years he was in Washington.

To show you the special affection he had for this instrument, I have checked its history and I find that it was one of the few pieces of furniture that he moved from the White House to Blair House and had it in Blair House while the White House was being renovated, and then moved it, of course, back to the White House. Then when President Truman left the White House, the instrument which the Steinway Company had loaned to the White House was kept there, and has been there for the last 16 years.

It seemed to me that since, in addition to the many other great contributions to the Nation President Truman has made, that he is certainly the most distinguished and accomplished pianist, that his piano from the White House ought to be in his library, and here it is, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMAN. I appreciate it very, very, very much. I love piano music, but I can't play.

PRESIDENT NIXON. I have heard differently.

I would also like to say that, as I said a moment before, Mr. President, to the schoolchildren, I have just finished a trip to Europe. I met with the leaders of the great nations of Europe, and all of us were talking about the 20th anniversary of NATO, which will be celebrated in April in Washington. We hope you can come with Mrs. Truman.

I want to say, looking back to that day when NATO came into being, when I was a freshman Congressman and you were President of the United States, I am proud of the fact that, along with many other Republicans, I supported the Marshall Plan and the Turkish aid program; but particularly, I think, it is important to point out that without your leadership of the United States and the free world at that time, setting up this great Alliance, we would not have had the strength which has avoided a world war since that time.

I think that for a Republican President to say that about a man who served as President when he was in the Congress shows that where the defense of the United States is concerned, or peace is concerned, we are not Republicans or Democrats, but Americans.

PRESIDENT TRUMAN. That is true. Thank you very, very much.

MRS. TRUMAN. Aren't you going to play something?

PRESIDENT NIXON. I will play something for the President. I play everything in the key of G, Mr. President, by ear.

Note: The President spoke at 12:09 p.m. at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

The President played "The Missouri Waltz," a song long associated with former President Truman.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at the Truman Library During a Visit With the Former President. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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