Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the Vermont State Dairy Festival, Rutland, Vermont.

June 22, 1955

Governor Johnson, Senator Aiken, Senator Flanders, distinguished guests--fellow members of the Brown Swiss Dairy Cattle Association--my fellow Americans:

Much has been said by former speakers of the honor I have done this State by coming here. Let me make one thing clear-very clear: no greater honor can come to any individual and citizen of this country than to be received in friendly fashion by a cross-section of his fellow citizens. You have honored me.

I think, first, I should like to remember my manners and thank you--each of you--as representatives of my host State for the warm reception I have had, for the beautiful presents given me. As a matter of fact, for the prestige I shall have in Pennsylvania when I can show a cow that has no other like it around there. They will come to see that farm if for no other reason than that cow.

Now I had a number of reasons for coming here. I think they can all be summed up in one word: self-education.

I don't think I know enough--ever--about the people of the United States, with whom I am privileged to meet and mingle when I go on a trip like this. Particularly, I have been denied too many opportunities to go to the northern three States of the New England group. I have long wanted to come here, and for two years I have carried it as a determination. And finally, I got the permission of Governor Adams to come--and here I am!

Now one of the first things I want to learn is where Calvin Coolidge got a certain skill that I have not acquired. He held the same position I now hold. He had a distinguished record, and held it for a long time, and he spoke so rarely that he got the nickname "Silent Cal."

My own experience in this regard is exemplified by the fact that the day before yesterday I spoke in San Francisco, and here again I am today, still talking. I find that my tongue is clattering in my ears a great deal, and I would like to know what Vermont secret he had that allowed him to avoid this particular responsibility.

There is another thing I want to learn; old as I am, there is a lesson in romance I have heard attached to Vermont--told me by that now distinguished citizen, Sherman Adams of New Hampshire.

He said there was a Vermont couple that were going to get married, but Mary thought that John ought to save a thousand dollars before they really were married. And they agreed, they thought it was a good thing. And he worked all winter long, and when June again approached, Mary thought it was a nice time to think of marriage, and she said, "How much have you saved?" Well, John looked a little bit sheepish and didn't want to confess, but after a while he said, "Thirty-five dollars." She said, "That's near enough, John." [Laughter]

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a confidence--the emotion--the idealism--that we normally associate with Vermont when we say the word "Ethan Allen."

By the way, I hear my cow came from Ethan Allen's farm. And am I glad --I think I shall call her "Mrs. Ethan Allen."

Actually, I came here just to see you--to see people. I want to know you better. There are certain things I do know about you. I know that Americans everywhere are the same, in their longing for peace, a peace that is characterized by justice, by consideration for others, by decency above all, by its insistence on respect for the individual human being as a child of his God.

All of us want that. All of us want the institutions of America preserved. It makes no difference what party label you attach to an American, we have equal veneration for our Constitution, for the basic principles that have been so beautifully upheld in this State, so well described in that tribute to the people of this State by Calvin Coolidge, just read to you a little while ago. Those are the things America wants.

But what we must find out is: what are the methods by which we approach all of these things? What are the traits we must ourselves display and hold on to?

We know we must be determined. We know we must not sacrifice principle for mere expediency. But do we know also that the responsibility is on us to attempt to understand others as we think they should understand us? Do we even make the mistake of assuming that the rest of the world knows us, knows our peaceful intentions, knows that we want nobody else's land, nobody else's rights, that we covet nothing?

We merely want to live in peace with all the world, to trade with them, to commune with them, to learn from their cultures, as they may learn from ours. I assure you, my friends, they do not know it. Even nations we know enlightened still have much to learn about America. Indeed, every single citizen of every other State has something to learn about you.

It is probably a pity that every citizen of each State cannot visit all the others, to see the differences, to learn what we have in common, and to come back with a richer, fuller understanding of America in all its beauty, in all its dignity, in all its strength, in support of moral principle.

I think as we think on these things, in lieu of travel, we do become stronger. As we think of our neighbors, as we try to apply with him or with her the spirit of the Golden Rule, we are doing the same in a very definite sense in our relationships with all the world.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what will strengthen America and in the long run, thoroughly practiced, will help bring peace. We will remain strong always, but always in one hand will be the olive branch held out to all who will take it in honesty and in integrity.

That is what I feel about America, in its principles, its basic hopes and aspirations.

I come to you, not only to understand you better, but to ask you only to support, always, those principles, to think of them and to expand them in your own mind into method, as to how we shall do it; and then you will always make your own contribution to the peace of the world, so that our sons may stay at home, the products of our toil may be used for our schools and our roads and our churches, and not for guns and planes and tanks and ships of war.

And now as I say goodby and go for my first chance to use that beautiful fishing rod--a product of Vermont that was given me a few moments ago I want to say only this, in terms of the greatest sincerity and honesty: if you do think on these things and devise for yourself your ideas of what should be done, if you will communicate those ideas to others, hammer out a common solution on the anvil of debate and argument and discussion, you will be doing your full part in bringing about this age-old dream of mankind: peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at the Rutland Fairgrounds at 3:05 p.m.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the Vermont State Dairy Festival, Rutland, Vermont. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232977

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