Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Toasts of the President and President Bayar at the White House

January 27, 1954

Your Excellency, Madame Bayar, distinguished guests of two countries):

Tonight, this company--this Capital--this country--is honored by the presence at this board of the Head of the Turkish Republic. We gladly seize the opportunity afforded us by his presence, to salute a nation which is one of the most gallant and staunchest defenders of freedom in the modern world.

The evolution of Turkey, taking place within the span of a single generation, is one of the marvels of our time. Fifty years ago--and there are a number of us here who can remember that long--the events, the names, and the faces of Turkey were little known to us. Our understanding of the country and its people was very meager indeed.

And then the change. Today we recognize it as a modern, progressive country, one that we are proud to call ally in the great problems that face the free world today. This great change was brought about by a dream of a group of men, a group of men headed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He had a dream that with a band of devoted associates they translated into reality--by service, unselfish and dedicated service, to their country. Forgetting themselves, they gave their lives and their talents to the nation to which they belonged.

And since 1923 we see the transformation that has taken place. Now the great Ataturk is dead, but his work lives on, and our guest of honor this evening is one of the original band that worked with him to bring about this great change, and to make Turkey the nation she is today: great, and growing greater every day.

Our guest of honor, since that day in 1923, has been almost continuously in the Assembly of his country. He has held almost every position in his government, including that of Prime Minister, and now is honored by holding the highest position in the land.

In a feeble effort to show some of the appreciation of this Government and its people, for Turkey as a nation and its people, our Government has awarded to our guest of honor the Legion of Merit in the grade of Chief Commander, the highest honor that this Government can give to anyone in time of peace not a citizen of this country. And with your permission, I shall read the Citation:

"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 20, 1942, has awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander, to Celal Bayar, President of the Turkish Republic, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services:

"The Turkish people have shown their confidence in Celal Bayar by entrusting him with high offices throughout his long public career, but especially when he was honored by being placed in the highest and most responsible position in Turkish public life--that of the Presidency of the Republic. In this high office, he has contributed greatly to the enrichment of that goodwill which characterizes the relationship between Turkey and the United States. Under his firm leadership, Turkey has continued to actively support those ideals which are cherished by free peoples everywhere, thus contributing effectively to the hopes for freedom and peace throughout the world." Signed by the President.

Now, my friends, as we lift our glasses to our guest of honor, let us remember that through him we do so, also, to the great nation of Turkey and its people--a people whose future we shah watch with interest, and wish for them everything that is good in a free world.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Bayar of Turkey.

Note: The President proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House at 9:45 p.m. President Bayar responded in Turkish. Thereafter the following translation was read by John F. Simmons, Chief of Protocol:

Mr. President:

I am deeply moved by the warm reception and the manifestations of genuine friendship which I have experienced since I set foot on American soil.

I am particularly happy, as your guest this evening, to enjoy your solicitous hospitality in this legendary residence.

The emotion that I felt on listening to your kind words about my country was not only stirred by the sincere feelings which you so well expressed, but it was also due to the fact that I realized how well this country understood the revolution which has taken place in my country since the day that, under the leadership of one of her sons devoted to the cause of civilization and humanity, she changed her destiny until the day she won her place in the community of free countries and assumed her duties in the service of humanity.

There is no doubt that the words that you, a great general and outstanding statesman, have spoken as the highest authority of the great American nation, will be a source of endless joy to all my countrymen.

I also wish to thank you for your kind and gratifying words about myself. As you have said, I do in fact cherish the moral satisfaction of having worked together, from the first day to the last, with Kemal Ataturk, the saviour of my country, the founder of modern Turkey, and the architect of the Turkish Revolution.

But the group who rallied under Ataturk and who were then called "the national force," are a symbol of the Turkish nation who pinned their destiny on him in the cause of a free and independent Turkish land, and for the ideal of a free and independent world according to the highest human concepts.

Today, these goals of the Turkish nation have been attained. Turkey shares the responsibility of a common fate with those nations of the free world who are making sacrifices for their liberty and independence. The happiest manifestation of that is in the firm ties which bind our two countries to each other.

I am very proud to hear that your government has decided to confer upon me the Legion of Merit, which is the highest award given in time of peace to a foreign citizen, in recognition of his services.

I accept this great honor, fully conscious of its worth, as a valuable token of the friendship of the American people towards my nation, which at the moment I represent on friendly American soil.

Turkey considers it a human and national duty to cooperate with the peoples who are striving for the realization of the ideals of a free world and genuine peace. No matter how strenuous and dark may be the road that leads to that objective, she is determined to walk hand in hand with her allies. For the Turkish nation, liberty is the mainstay of life. And I am convinced that the souls of the Turkish and American nations find communion on that motto above everything else.

When, therefore, our sons shake each other's hand on the road on which our countries are determined to walk arm in arm, they feel the mutual determination and confidence of two great spirits.

I raise my glass to your health, and to the health of Mrs. Eisenhower. I drink to the happiness and prosperity of our great ally, the United States.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Toasts of the President and President Bayar at the White House Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232533

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