Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Statement by the President on the Fourth Anniversary of the Signing of the North Atlantic Treaty.

April 04, 1953

JUST FOUR YEARS ago today the representatives of twelve free nations met in Washington to sign their names to a document 160 which free men will long remember. That document was the North Atlantic Treaty.

In the years since that date other nations have signed their names and pledged their strength--to make NATO the central source of strength for defense of the western world.

This year it happens that we commemorate the anniversary of NATO at Easter time. To peoples of all faiths the spiritual idea of the Prince of Peace carries meaning. And NATO is an instrument of peace. It endangers none who will respect freedom. It serves all who love freedom--and wish to enjoy it in peace.

We have learned from bitter and conclusive experience that peace cannot be defended by the weak. It demands strength--strength of our armies, strength of our economies and, above all, strength of our spirit.

This strength can be born only of unity. NATO signifies the resolve of the free nations of the North Atlantic community to be united against any aggression. The North Atlantic Treaty served notice that an attack upon any of the NATO countries would be resisted by all. It did yet more: It called upon all participating nations to develop that strength which could not only win war but more importantly could prevent war.

The two hundred million people of the NATO nations of Europe are in the deepest sense bound together by a unity more profound than any pact. They are skilled in work, courageous in spirit, and tenacious in their love of freedom. They--their spirit and strength and resources--are indispensable to the defense of freedom everywhere. If they and their resources ever were captured and exploited by an aggressor, there would be no corner of safety anywhere in the world. But so long as these people and these resources are joined with those of the United States in our common cause, no aggressor can be blind to the folly of attack.

The work of NATO is far from complete. This anniversary, then, should be the signal for all NATO nations to dedicate themselves with renewed vigor to the work that remains to be done. So doing, each and all must know that they are serving--not the wishes or needs of some big alien power, nor even a lofty abstract ideal--but simply their own salvation and survival in freedom.

Each and all must remind themselves that the faint of heart and the slow of deed are the first and the surest to invite the torment of aggression.

Each and all of us must summon to mind the words of Him whom we honor this Easter time: "When a strong man, armed, keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President on the Fourth Anniversary of the Signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231600

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