Harry S. Truman photo

Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award Ceremonies

January 10, 1951

Mr. Chairman, Mrs. McAdoo, and all these distinguished guests:

I am grateful for the honor that the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has conferred upon me. In the words of the citation, the award is conferred "for courageous reaction to armed aggression on June 25, 1950." The courageous reaction to the Communist aggression in Korea is the reaction of all the American people--and I think of all the free countries in the world. By giving wholehearted support to the United Nations in its effort to put down lawless aggression, and to uphold the rule of law, our people are living up to the responsibilities which Woodrow Wilson foresaw 30 years ago or more.

Woodrow Wilson labored for what at one time seemed a hopeless cause. He sought to establish an effective world organization. He urged us to lead the world in the search for a just and lasting peace. Although he could not live to see it, the seeds Wilson planted are now bearing fruit.

The American people today recognize the truths that Wilson proclaimed, and by the vigorous support of the United Nations our country has taken the lead in mobilizing the strength of free men against the forces of tyranny and despotism.

While I am honored to accept this award, I do so not in my name but in the name of the people of the United States. It is their award, it is they who have made this decision, that while peace is precious to us, freedom and justice are more precious.

I myself, as an individual, feel entirely unworthy of the honor which you have conferred upon me. As President of the United States I highly appreciate the honor which has been conferred upon me by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

I was in a field in July 1912, driving a binder and binding wheat, and there was a little telegraph station about a quarter of a mile from one corner of that field which, being 160 acres, was half a mile long on each side--2 miles altogether--and when I had driven around it each time, I would go to the telegraph station to see how the convention in Baltimore was coming along. And from that minute on I was a fan of Woodrow Wilson, who I think is one of the five or six great Presidents that this country has produced. And to receive an honor like this from a foundation dedicated to him is about the highest honor that any man can achieve.

I thank you very much for giving it to me.

Note: The President spoke in his office at the White House at 12:15 p.m. His opening words referred to Dr. Harry D. Gideonse, president of Brooklyn College and of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and to Mrs. Eleanor Wilson McAdoo, daughter of President Wilson.

Mr. Truman was the first President to receive the Wilson award, a bronze medallion designed by Jan Mestrovic.

Harry S Truman, Remarks at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award Ceremonies Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230318

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