Jimmy Carter photo

The President's Overseas Trip Remarks on Arrival at the White House.

January 06, 1978

THE VICE PRESIDENT. Mr. President, we're delighted to welcome you and Rosalynn back to the Nation's Capital as you return this evening from this most successful and inspiring trip. We're delighted to wish you a Happy New Year in person for the first time this year, and we're delighted that because of this trip, 1978 is beginning on the best possible basis.

This trip was of tremendous importance and was a great success for our Nation in many ways. First of all, it permitted the President to deepen and broaden the friendship and the sense of understanding and cooperation between himself and the leaders of the great nations that he visited.

Just as importantly, it deepened and broadened the friendship of the American people with the peoples of those nations. And the love and the affection that was so apparent as we watched you meet and walk amongst the peoples of those nations showed the great love and affection around the world that exists for our Nation and its leaders.

This visit also permitted you to work on some very important problems, and the one that comes to mind immediately is the Middle East, where your visits arrived at the most important moment when, during these historical developments, you were able to meet with the leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and of course, Mr. Sadat in Aswan, to help keep the momentum toward peace in the Middle East. Your conversation with Prime Minister Begin also contributed to that crucial process.

But perhaps most importantly your visit and each stop on that visit demonstrated the profound, the complete and the total commitment of this administration and of its President to the pursuit of human rights, of human justice and liberty. Those values most basic to the American people are also most basic to our foreign policy.

When you left, Mr. President, you asked those of us who stayed behind to take care of things. These have been 9 successful days in the history of our country. [Laughter] And we're proud of it. We have avoided war. We have continued Government services with no increase in taxes. The Congress have not turned down a single suggestion during these past 9 days. I've matured a lot. I've aged a year since you left, and Amy's now an accomplished skier. [Laughter]

Welcome home. We're delighted to have you and Rosalynn back with us. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Maybe I should have stayed gone longer. [Laughter]

A week and a half ago when I stood right here on this spot I mentioned some words in anticipation of our trip that are significant: rapid change, diversity among the peoples of the world, American leadership, liberty, freedom, friendship, human rights. And now after going to these nations, I have a much more sure sense of what those words really mean. I won't go into detail now because we don't have time. But there are a few vivid memories that illustrate nay own emotions as I return to my land which I love so much.

The visit to Warsaw, the Warsaw Pact nation on the other side of the Iron Curtain, which is now being opened, I hope, for good. Paying tribute to those who were killed there—there were 4 million Jews in Poland before the war; now there are less than a hundred thousand. Warsaw had 1.2 million people; 800,000 of them were killed. Six million Poles died. Twenty million Russians died in the Second World War.

And I have a much surer sense now that the Communist nations who sometimes we look upon as adversaries want to avoid war and to have peace just as much as we do. And we need to make every effort to search out compatibilities and to understand one another and to communicate easily and well.

I was deeply impressed by India, the largest democracy on Earth, 700 million people perhaps. I visited Gandhi's tomb, where his body was cremated, and thought about how that man with no army, no television, no political organization, no home, was able to transform that country by walking by himself from one village to another just because he had an ideal that didn't change and because he wanted the Indian people to have a right to worship and to choose their own leaders.

And we visited a small village like the one my mother lived in for 2 years, a village of poverty. The people who live there don't make as much income in a year as the average American worker makes in a week. But we were received with open arms, and it was a natural outburst of friendship and appreciation, even there, for what our country stands for.

Then I visited King Hussein and King Khalid and the Shah of Iran, and then stopped in Aswan. And as I stepped off the plane I embraced with a deep sense of affection one of the bravest men on Earth, Anwar Sadat.

And then came back to France, and yesterday, I believe, was one of the best days of my whole life, the outpouring of friendship that existed on the streets of Paris for us, for our country, the people in the small village of Bayeux, the first town liberated when the freedom forces moved back into Europe. And to stand in Normandy Beach, on the site of the loss of 2,000 American lives in just a few hours in Omaha, and to see a tremendous American flag and a tremendous French tri-color flag flying over the graves of over 9,300 Americans who died for the liberty of France and Europe and for our own freedom was a great experience for me.

So, I've learned a lot. We were received with open arms and friendship, even among nations who in the past have been kind of cool toward us, and I was able to see very clearly what the United States of America means to those people around the world.

When we are clean and decent they are pleased. When we are honest they are relieved. When we are strong they're protected, and when we extend the hand of friendship they respond with an open heart.

I was proud of the friendship we received and the friendship we left behind us, but at all times I was even more proud of the people that I represent.

Note: The exchange began at 9:14 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, The President's Overseas Trip Remarks on Arrival at the White House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244518

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