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Toasts of the President and President Park at a State Dinner in San Francisco

August 21, 1969

Mr. President, Mrs. Park, all of the distinguished guests in this very distinguished audience tonight:

As I am sure most of you realize, this is an historic occasion not only because of the visit that the President of the Republic of Korea is paying to the United States in an official capacity--because this is the first time in this administration and probably in any administration that a state dinner is being given by the President of the United States for the head of the government of another State, in this case the Republic of Korea, and I am honored that it is in my own State of California and here in the great city of San Francisco.

We have tried to create to an extent the atmosphere which you would find in the White House. The President was pointing out that when he was at the White House at a state dinner there that the audience was not as large, because only 110 could be seated at a White House state dinner.

The wines are from California, the record will show. The flowers are from California, and much of the audience is from California. But the Marine Orchestra, which for 100 years has been the President's orchestra in the White House, was brought from Washington, and the Strolling Strings from the Army came from Washington. We brought them here because we want you to hear them, because one of mine and my wife's most pleasant memories and fondest memories of Korea was in the year 1953 when we became acquainted with the great love of music of the Korean people.

Tonight, in attempting to bring to those in this audience who come from California and all over the Nation something of the feeling of Korea that I have and that l believe the people of the United States do have and should have so they will know the facts, I would like to speak, not simply in my capacity as head of state and head of government, officially welcoming another head of state and head of government, whose friendship we value, but I would like to speak from the hearts of all of the American people to the people of Korea.

And I would like to tell this audience what Korea means, what it means to me, what I think it means to America and to the world.

Korea, first, is a land much like California, a thousand miles of mountains and rivers and valleys. Korea is a land which is very varied in its climate, and in its physical conditions.

Korea, to many in the United States, means a war, a war that was difficult, a war that cost casualties, a war that was controversial. But we should think of Korea tonight in a different sense, because as President Park has often reminded us each time he comes to the United States, he speaks of a different Korea.

Korea today should mean to America and to the world these things: One, it means courage. In all of the world, and I have been to most of the countries of the world, there are no people more courageous than the people of Korea.

They proved their courage fighting for their own freedom in a war that ended 16 years ago. They are proving it by fighting alongside the persons of the United States and those of South Vietnam and other countries in the war in Vietnam with 50,000 Koreans there. And they prove it by maintaining one of the largest armed forces in the world in order to meet the threat which is posed against them in the north.

And this kind of courage Americans admire. Korea means courage, therefore, to us.

Korea also means friendship and alliance in the deepest sense, not the friendship and alliance simply of words, but the friendship and alliance which goes beyond that, and which involves cooperation not just in a war in Vietnam, but in building the new collective arrangements in Asia, which are so important to peace in the Pacific.

And as all of the people in this audience, particularly from California, will realize. peace in the Pacific is essential if we are going to have peace in the world. Because we must remember that the wars that we have been engaged in in the last quarter of a century on three occasions came from the Pacific.

But, finally, Korea today means something else that we need to be reminded of. It means self-reliance. It means self-respect. It means independence. You see it in the faces of the Korean people when you go to that country.

You see it in the faces of that wonderful children's choir, the orphans' choir, when they come to America and sing so beautifully that the tears come to your eyes when you think of what they have been through, and yet how happy they can be despite all that.

And you see it when you realize, as I realized on every occasion today, that Korea is a country which has received aid from the United States, but a country that wants to develop the ability to stand on its own feet. On occasion after occasion, the President and Mrs. Park have expressed the appreciation of the Korean people for the aid they have received from the United States.

And my answer is this: We have aided over 100 countries over the last 25 years. Some of those programs have been successes. More of them have been failures.

But there is one great lesson. All of the aid in the world will not help the people who are unable or unwilling to help themselves. And the people of Korea are not only willing to help themselves, they insist on helping themselves.

And despite their immense military budget, they are developing economically in a remarkably effective way so that the time is now nearing when they will proudly be able to stand on their own two feet economically without any assistance from the United States or any other nation.

So these qualities are what we think of or I think of when I think of Korea: courage, true friendship and alliance, and self-reliance, self-reliance which is so important for the character of a great people.

In proposing a toast to the President of Korea, I have been reminded that there is a saying in Korea which goes like this: The times in which we live are most trying, but may the time come when peace and prosperity will finally come to those thousand miles of mountains and rivers on which we live.

That is what we feel about Korea tonight. We want peace and prosperity for Korea, for all the nations of the world; and, so, from our hearts, I know all will want to join me tonight in raising our glasses to that peace and prosperity for the people of Korea and to the President of Korea and to Mrs. Park--to the President.

Note: The President spoke at 10:31 p.m. at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, Calif.

President Chung Hee Park of South Korea responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great honor for me to have received such warm and splendid welcome and hospitality here in this beautiful city of San Francisco today. And I would like to express my highest admiration again to the American people for their greatest achievement of all, the landing of the first men on the moon.

My heartfelt congratulations are also extended to 'President Nixon for the remarkable diplomatic success he has achieved for world peace through his recent visit to a number of countries of the world.

On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Korea, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Government and people of the United States for their unfailing support to the cause of freedom, independence, security, and prosperity in Korea.

I am most pleased to inform you that your officers and men in Korea are discharging their duties in the most superb way today as in the past, standing guard side by side with my fellow countrymen in uniform along the demilitarized zone.

I extend my personal thanks and highest praise to those American youths for their distinguished service in Korea. At this very moment, the Republic of Korea is striving hard for its own progress, while guarding the defense line along the demilitarized zone.

All Koreans are working vigorously toward strengthening the national defense on the one hand, and the realizing of the economic self-sufficiency on the other.

The remarkable progress achieved so far by the Republic of Korea is the result of efforts of the Korean people who are receiving assistance coupled with the friendship of the American people who are rendering assistance.

I think that this is not only a matter of pride for the Korean people, but also that for the American people. And we are happy with and proud of the fact that we have demonstrated the immense strength which has been generated from the close cooperation between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are, however, still faced with certain elements who, out of jealousy of our splendid achievement, threaten to destroy, at every opportunity, what we have accomplished through our joint efforts.

They are the very aggressive North Korean Communists who continue to commit bellicose acts of provocation and infiltration, constantly seeking an opportunity for renewed aggression.

The bellicose North Korea has gained not even an inch of our free land despite their ceaseless attempts.

It is because, in my belief, of the staunch anti-Communist stance of the Korean people, together with the firm determination of the United States to defend Korea, that we have prevented this.

! take this opportunity to pay my sincere tribute to the memory of those young officers who have sacrificed themselves for the peace in Korea and its neighboring areas.

My deepest sympathy goes to their bereaved families. I have no doubt that the noble sacrifices for peace will shine increasingly brighter in the pages of history of mankind and be long remembered by us all.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our fervent desire that peace must be restored as early as possible, not only in Korea, but in every corner of the world, especially in Vietnam.

This is the reason why I have deep understanding of, and give full support to, the endeavors of President Nixon to settle the Vietnamese conflict and to restore peace in Vietnam as early as possible.

And this is why the Republic of Korea spares no effort in cooperating in the cause of peace.

Frankly speaking, I realize through my own experience that, as far as Communists are concerned, there can be no peace as we understand it. Theirs in reality is no more than a peace in disguise during which they prepare for a larger-scale aggression.

Through my own long experience in dealing with Communists in Asia, I am firmly convinced that the only, and the best, way to restore peace in the region is to convince the Communists of our superior strengths which they cannot defeat, so that they may abandon their futile theme of aggression.

It is because of this belief that at every opportunity I have emphasized the importance of the principle of responsive actions in our dealings with the Communists.

I can only hope that our honest effort for peace will eventually be accepted in good faith by the Communists and that they will abandon their usual method.

Ladies and gentlemen, today there is an upsurging trend toward self-determination and self-dependence among free nations in Asia, who are endeavoring to attain progress and prosperity through their own initiatives and efforts.

This outlook and vigorous effort on the part of the Asian people are throwing a brilliant new light on the paths toward a new era in Asia. They are giving greater hope and encouragement to the prospect of world peace.

Despite such a new hope in Asia, however, there still lie serious obstacles in the way. And these are, I must point out once again, the Communist threats.

Under these circumstances, the time has now come for free nations in Asia to unite and work together for the common objective of prosperity. I believe that it is now time for you to take resolute action toward this end.

I am convinced that regional security and prosperity can be achieved by the nations of the region themselves, if they unite, cooperate, and endeavor together more closely for the attainment of these common objectives.

I believe what President Nixon has emphasized in his new Asian policy is this very spirit of self-dependence in Asia which calls for the initiative of Asians themselves in shaping their own destiny--Asia for Asians.

And the United States will not abandon Asia, but continue to remain there as an Asian and Pacific power to assist Asians in their own effort for the development of their region and will honor the commitment made to the area.

This underlying theme of President Nixon's policy, will, I am pleased to say, have our wholehearted support.

In my view, the President's policy has laid emphasis on the two aspects: the responsibility of the Asians themselves and the role of the United States in regional cooperation. And I firmly believe that this policy will contribute positively to self-dependence of Asia and will help Asians realize well-being in the region through a higher degree of cooperation.

I think the Asians as well as the United States people should bear in mind that only when the initiatives and efforts of the Asians themselves and the United States cooperation are well coordinated and balanced together, so as to meet the needs of Asia in an effective way, can we expect a great effect from the new approach of the United States for the stability and progress of this region.

But should these efforts become imbalanced for want of a positive effort on the part of either side, new disturbances and threats will inevitably recur in this region.

Citizens of the great United States who have sent men to the moon, I would like to ask you to join me now in a toast to the continued good health and happiness and success of the President and Mrs. Nixon.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and President Park at a State Dinner in San Francisco Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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