Richard Nixon photo

Remarks Welcoming Members of the Senior Class of Wyoming High School of Cincinnati, Ohio, to the White House.

November 20, 1971

I WANT you to know that I am delighted to welcome you here to the White House and to tell you how this all happened.

Last night I attended, along with Mrs. Nixon and my daughter Julie and David Eisenhower--I think they are going to come out and say hello in a minute, too-anyway, I attended an affair down at the Kennedy Center, at the Opera House, the ballet dancers from Cambodia. And as I was leaving, a big, tall fellow--where is he? Does he always do that? He is a future President. Anyway, this big, tall fellow came up, and he said, "Look, could you come down and have your picture taken with the Wyoming High School class that is here?" I said, "Well, you have come from a long way." "No," he said, "just from Cincinnati."

So, I learned that there is a Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Of course, I should have known it because you were champions in 1969, and tied last year. There are, of course, more important things than being champions in football, but I know that out in Cincinnati and Ohio that is football country, so I do mention that.

I want you to know, though, that when I realized that I was going to meet you and have my picture taken with you, which is a great privilege for me, that I realized that it was exactly 41 years ago that I was graduated from high school. I was a member of the Class of 1930 of Whittier High School.

I thought of my being your age and what a wonderful time it was then--I thought. I was 17, 18. Most of you are 17, 18 years of age; right?

At that time, 1930, we had just begun and moved into the great depression which, of course, you read about now and hear about. At that time the United States was at peace. I remember that one of the subjects for debate in our high school class was how we were to keep the peace in the world, although many could see what might happen in the future.

Then I thought of what happened to that generation, the Class of 1930. We had such high hopes. Despite the fact that we had moved into the depression, we thought it would soon be over. You know, young people, one of the great things about them--I was this way, I know you are this way--is that you are upbeat, you are hopeful, you are confident. If things are wrong, you are going to make them better. You are going to do something about it. And I remember we felt that way.

If we had thought then that that depression was going to last for over 8 years, that we were not going to get out of it until we got into World War II, we would have been pretty depressed. If we had thought then that our generation, the generation that graduated in the Class of '30, was going to go through three wars more--World War II, Korea, and now Vietnam--we would have been very, very depressed.

So, now we look at this class, the Class of '71- I just want you to know that you can look to the future with confidence. I know sometimes you may think it must be a terrible time to be alive now. We are in a war. Of course, you all know it is coming to an end. But you look to the future, you see the awesome threat of nuclear war hanging over the world, and you consider the other problems we have in our society; the problem of drugs, the problems that you hear about and read about, either on television or in your newspapers, and you say, well, I guess our generation probably has the worst of times.

Whenever you start to think that way-and I don't think you are going to be thinking that way--just remember that Class of '30. Our generation saw three wars, went through a very great depression. Your generation is going to see an end to a war, and, if we are able to succeed, partly as a result of great new initiatives in foreign policy--my trips to Peking and to Moscow, they will contribute--you may see what we have not had in this whole century: a full generation of peace. It is going to be a great period for you. I think the next 30 years, the 30 years of the Class of '71, can be wonderful years.

Here in this office, as long as I am here, I am going to work for that. Because as I look at you, I remember when I was your age, and I remember what a wonderful time it was. I remember how idealistic I and the members of my class were--our teachers, we gave them great credit for that. And I know your teachers implant those same ideals in you.

Just keep your faith in America, keep your faith in God. Keep your faith in the future. This is a good time to be alive. It isn't the worst. It is the best. Remember that never has a generation in the whole history of the world had a chance to play a role that yours plays. You are going to have the vote, the vote at 18. You can do something about the future. You can build a world of peace, help to build it, but more, you can build a nation at home, a nation in which we can have the kind of prosperity we all want, not based on war, not based on inflation, but based on those kinds of hopes that all young people really have in their hearts for themselves, and particularly for their friends and their neighbors.

Now, having said these very serious things, let me say a word about where you are standing. How many of you are married? The teacher? These are the steps, when we have a state visit, for example, when we had Mrs. Gandhi here, the Prime Minister of India, and President Tito and the prime ministers of other countries, we receive them out here on the lawn, and then after we review the troops and the rest, then we walk up these steps and then stand on that balcony and get a picture taken for television. So, you are standing on the steps where prime ministers and presidents and kings and emperors stand.

But even more important, when I asked how many of you are married, these are the steps where I went through perhaps the most difficult experience since I have been President. This is where I had Tricia on my arm when I walked down the steps, where she was married over in the Rose Garden. So, you are standing on the marriage steps at the White House. I just wanted you to know that.

Finally, with regard to your trip through the White House today, you are going to get a special tour. Just pick up anything that is not nailed down. That is not much.

But I recommend all the rooms. There are very famous rooms here, of course, but particularly, take a look at the Red Room. The Red Room has just been redecorated. It is a very famous room. A decorator has indicated--for those of you who are interested in decorations--I noted in one of our papers here, that the Red Room today is considered to be the finest room of its type in the world. Now that is quite a high compliment to pay to any room in the United States because, you know, we are sort of supposed to be behind the Europeans or the Asians or others in some areas in this particular thing. So if you are interested in that, the Red Room is there for you to see, and you will be among the first visitors to have a chance to look at it.

But having said all of these things, we have enjoyed having you here. We hope you enjoy your visit to Washington, your visit through the White House. And now, let's get that picture so you can have that to take home.

Note: The President spoke at 11:59 a.m. at the South Portico at the White House.

The President had invited the class to the White House during a conversation with a member of the class, Andrew Curtis, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Friday evening, November 19, 1971.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Welcoming Members of the Senior Class of Wyoming High School of Cincinnati, Ohio, to the White House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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