Remarks by the Vice President on the Occasion of the Dedication of the Boys' Club of Beloit, WI
Mr. Birdsell, distinguished guests on the platform and in the audience: I am very honored to participate in this ceremony this morning and particularly so in view of the award which has just been made by Tommy Johnson. Incidentally, as he stood there on that platform before this illustrious audience in Beloit, I think the very poise that he showed is an indication that the Boys' Clubs do a fine job - and certainly he made us very proud of all the boys of America the way he handled that situation. I know how he must have perhaps been looking forward to it because people often say to me: "Do you ever get any tension before you make a speech?" And the answer is: I remember when I was 13 and used to make a little talk now and then I used to get a little tension, and the speeches are never any good unless you are a little bit up to them, and I thought Tommy did a wonderful job. Here's a future speaker. We can say that.
I have much that I could say about the Boys' Clubs, their operations throughout the United States. As our national director, Mr. Gleason, has indicated, I have participated in many ceremonies - in Washington, in Miami, and in other cities around the country - having to do with the Boys' Clubs of America, and I can say, first of all, to all of those who have made this fine installation possible, I just don't know of any contribution you could make to your community and to your Nation which is more worthwhile and which in the long run will be more productive of good than the one you have made to the Boys' Clubs of America.
You know this organization, certainly. You have been reading in your local newspapers about its background and what it is intended to accomplish in this community. I will not go into detail on that particular point. I would like to make some observations, however, with regard to what the Boys' Clubs and similar organizations like it tell us about the special character of our American system.
I recall when we visited the Soviet Union my wife, Pat, and I on one occasion had a chance to see a club. It was a boys' club. It was called a Pioneer Camp. She went through several of them on this trip. I saw the members of one. This was run by the Government. Now, as far as the boys were concerned, they looked just like Tommy. They were all in uniform. They ate the same things. They wore the same clothes. They had absolutely no diversity whatever in choice as to what they would do when they grew to manhood, and as far as the camps in which they lived were concerned there was no problem of getting contributions from people like yourselves who voluntarily select among the groups to which you want to make contributions because it was all done by the Government. And sometimes it must occur to you when the Boys' Clubs come one week and the Red Cross the next and the YMCA the next and the Community Chest the next: Isn't there a more efficient way of taking care of all these problems, of providing boys' clubs and of contributing to Girl Scouts, for example. I am partial to girls, of course, because we have girls in our family. And, yes, there is a more efficient way to do it. We could do it as they do it in the totalitarian countries. We could all be taxed for the purpose of having one central direction by Government for the activities for our young people and for all people who need assistance or to whom the Government should render special services, but it would lose something. It would lose something which the Boys' Clubs of America particularly stand for. It would be completely impersonal. It would not develop boys like Tommy that we have seen here today with great individuality. It would be an organization, in effect, without a heart. If there is one thing about our great organizations like the Boys' Clubs and similar ones throughout America - and literally there are, of course, hundreds and perhaps thousands of organizations similar to this one,
each making its own contribution in its own individual way to a better life for our children - it is that such organizations, supported because people have a heart, are not just mechanical; they are not just impersonal, but they have a part in dealing with the problems of our young people. This, I think, is something of which all of you can be immensely proud today, that you have made it possible for boys in this community, from all sectors of the economy, the rich boys, the poor boys, boys in this community from all the various groups that are represented from the standpoint of race, or creed or color, to come here to find a fine, constructive, healthy atmosphere in which to spend their leisure time. That you have made this possible is a great compliment to all of you who have participated in this work.
I say to you today that you have not only helped the boys of Beloit, but you have helped maintain something very precious in the United States, and that is this approach to the problems that we have in our country, which is nongovernment in character, which is voluntary and which, therefore, can emphasize the individual rather than simply the great impersonal state.
This does not mean, of course, the government, whether it is Federal State or local, cannot and would not play a significant part in activities designed to see that our young people have what has been called an equal chance at the starting line or, since the baseball season is about ending, we may not all be able to hit home runs, but we want our turn at bat. Government must play apart in that. Our schools that are supported by taxes play a significant part in that. But organizations like this can play a part that government simply is incapable of playing, and that is why I was particularly happy to be able to leave the campaign trail for these few minutes, to spend them with you, to pay a tribute to you and to pay a tribute also to this organization which is headed by Mr. Hoover and which is represented by Mr. Glean today.
I would add just one final thought: As we look into the future, as we consider this great struggle in which we're engaged with the forces of totalitarianism on one side and the forces of freedom on the other side, one of those factors which makes me confident of its outcome is what I see here today, the fact that our people - and this is true of people everywhere if they are given a chance - will support an organization, not because it's going to do you some good, not for any selfish motive, but because it's the right thing to do, because you are interested in the boys, not just your own boys, but you're interested in all the boys in this community.
And I might suggest if we could relate this to the great meeting going on at the United Nations in New York today, if we could relate it to the difference in approach between the United States as represented by President Eisenhower and the Soviet Union as represented by Chairman Khrushchev, this same characteristic stands out. We hear about our foreign-aid programs and theirs. We sometimes perhaps get the idea that this is just a contest in which each is trying to outbid the other, in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, for the support of these peoples, but let me say that what gives the United States and the free nations an advantage, the reason that in the long run we will prevail, is that, not only through government, but through private organizations and private contributions like CARE, the people of the United States would be willing and have been willing from the time of their foundation to help the people of other countries who need help - not because we're fighting communism, not because we're fighting for something selfish for ourselves, but because it's the right thing to do, because if there were no communism in the
world there would still be hungry people. If there were no communism in the world there would still be slavery and the denial of freedom. And if there were no communism in the world, with these things existing, we would care, as a people, as a nation.
So, that's a far cry, it seems, from the Boys' Club dedication here in Beloit, but actually the same great principle works here; and so, I say to you: Thank you for helping to keep alive in this community, in this State, in this Nation, this great concept of helping people not because it helps ourselves, but because it's the right thing to do. This principle joins us together. This principle is one that certainly unites all Americans, regardless of the very small differences - and they are very small - that we may have on the basis of religion or creed or anything else. It is also the principle that unites men of good will throughout the world, and it is because America, in a community like this, in a State, in a Nation and in its foreign policy, stands for this principle that we can have faith that these grave international problems will be solved with peace and that freedom will prevail throughout the world.
Richard Nixon, Remarks by the Vice President on the Occasion of the Dedication of the Boys' Club of Beloit, WI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274131