Richard Nixon photo

Toast at a Luncheon in Leningrad

May 27, 1972

Mr. Chairman of the Presidium, Mr. Mayor, and all of the distinguished guests on this very great occasion:

We first want to express our deep appreciation for the hospitality that has been extended to all of us on our visit to Leningrad.

We realize that this visit is very brief and we only regret that we don't have more time to spend here in this great city. With memories of what we saw in 1959 and then of what we have seen in our few hours here today, I would say that we all feel somewhat like the first American Ambassador to this city when, after spending 3 hours in the Hermitage,1 he said he only wished he could spend 3 months even there in that one place.

As we leave your city later this afternoon, each of us will carry away a special memory. All will remember this splendid banquet, the delightful music, the new friendships that we have made with our Soviet friends. We will remember the spectacular beauty of this city, a city that refused to die and came back after destruction more beautiful than ever before.

We will remember grand buildings like this. We will remember the dynamism and the strength of the people of Leningrad.

I would like to share with you one memory I will take with me for the rest of my life. It will be the memory of a little girl, 12 years old. At the cemetery today I saw her picture and a few pages from her diary. She was a beautiful child-brown eyes, a pretty face. The pages of her diary were there for all to see.

She recorded how first her mother died, her father died, her brothers and her sister, and then finally only she was left.

As I think of Tanya, that 12-year-old girl in Leningrad, I think of all the Tanyas in the world--in the Soviet Union, in the United States, in Asia, in Africa and Latin America, wherever they may be. I only hope that the visit that we have had at the highest level with the Soviet leaders will have contributed to that kind of world in which the little Tanyas and their brothers and their sisters will be able to grow up in a world of peace and friendship among people--all people in the world.

My glass today will be raised with yours not only to our distinguished Chairman of the Presidium, not only to your mayor and to the other distinguished officials, but to Tanya, who stands for the heroism of a great city.

If I could try to say it in your language, may I also ask that we raise our glasses to this thought: Vechnaya slava geroiskomu Leningradu. [Eternal glory to heroic Leningrad.]

1 A museum of fine arts which was once part of the winter palace of the tsars

Note: The President spoke at 3:32 p.m. in Marlinsky Palace, St. Isaac's Square, at a luncheon hosted by the Executive Committee of the Leningrad Council of Workers Deputies. He spoke from a prepared text.

Sizov A. Aleksandrovi was the mayor of Leningrad.

Richard Nixon, Toast at a Luncheon in Leningrad Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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