Richard Nixon photo

Statement by the Vice President of the United States on Freedom, Muskegon, MI

October 27, 1960

Back in 1940, in the heart of the darkness of World War II, Winston Churchill spoke with brave contempt of the day when the "corroding finger" of Hitler would be scourged from the face of this planet, and when men and women and children would climb again to the "sunny uplands of peace."

Twenty years later in this year 1960, those of us who are free are resolved that the day shall surely come when everywhere people shall have a free choice for freedom and the corroding finger of communism shall be gone from the earth.

The time leas come for the contest to shift, more heavily than ever before, into the realm of the ideals and the beliefs of men.

As you know, after my trip to the Soviet Union last year, Mrs. Nixon and I visited Poland. If I am elected President, I will have as one of my objectives, before my term of office ends, to seek the opportunity to visit, at least once, every one of the satellite nations of Eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria and Rumania. The purpose of these visits clearly will not be to seek to stir up revolutions that can only fail, the kind which can end only in the needless slaughter of brave fighters for freedom. Nor will these visits seek fatuously to win the good will of the Communist rulers. I do not believe that Communists can be converted by "warm welcomes" and slaps on the back.

But this I do believe: It will be the responsibility of the President and the Vice President of the United States to remind all the world again and again that these Eastern European people who walk in darkness shall one day be delivered out of bondage. To guide American policy wisely and bravely against the coming of that day of dawning, it will be the responsibility of the next President to have at his command constantly all the facts he can get about the people and the rulers of these countries.

To proclaim again America's friendship for these people, to reaffirm our trust in their ultimate deliverance and to get these facts firsthand - these will be the goals of the journeys we hope to make to eastern Europe.

The time has come for America and the free world to work even harder to carry the message of freedom into the Communist world.

For there America has friends. I have seen them lining the streets of Warsaw by the thousands upon thousands, cheering the United States, tears flowing down their cheeks.

When the great Polish-American pianist, Artur Rubinstein, returned to his native land in 1958 after an absence of two decades, the audience in Warsaw's Philharmonic Hall did something they had done only once before in its history, and then at the entrance of their beloved Ignace Jan Paderewski, they rose to their feet in tribute. And when Artur Rubinstein's concert ended with Chopin's heroic "A Flat Major Polonaise," his audience wept and cheered and sang "May he live a hundred years."

Whenever I hear politicians whining about our weaknesses and alleged loss of prestige, I think of that story and of brave captive men and women of Slavic and Czech and Polish and Lithuanian descent who know what servitude and poverty and tyranny are. I wish our fainthearts would try to tell those people of their own weariness and despair over America's greatness. I wish these opposition politicians could try to tell them that they in their capacity, and not we in our freedom, are living under the regime which is the wave of the future, which offers to its children hope and growth and the inheritance of the earth.

And I should like to hear the answer - the answer that men and women of Prague and Warsaw and Budapest could give to such twisted whimperings.

I believe that the United States of America in the decade ahead will continue to be worthy of the friendship and faith of such people who are not now free. But we shall be worthy of them only as we work with constancy and clearheadedness and courage toward victory for freedom everywhere.

We must wage this struggle in the free world, in the uncommitted world and in the Communist world.

Richard Nixon, Statement by the Vice President of the United States on Freedom, Muskegon, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project