Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Andreotti of Italy.
Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Andreotti, Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Agnew, and all of our distinguished guests:
Mr. Prime Minister, it is my privilege to tell you something about this audience here in the State Dining Room and their presence in honoring you. It is only coincidental that included in the audience are people like Mayor Rizzo from the city of Philadelphia, Mr. Peter Fosco, a major labor leader of this country, a United States Congressman, Silvio Conte, a Senator by the name of Pastore, and another by the name of Domenici, and an Ambassador to the United Nations by the name of Scali--only coincidental--and that the red wine we had tonight is Louis Martini from California.
I am simply trying to say, Mr. Prime Minister, that in America, as you know so well, we are very grateful for the contribution that has been made to this Nation by the sons and daughters of Italian background. We would like to have all of them here tonight to honor you, but the room will not seat x o million.
And now to those who are here, I would like to present the Prime Minister. When I was a freshman Congressman in 1947, I took my first trip to Europe. I spent 3 weeks in Italy, studying the needs of Italy for reconstruction, which eventually ended in the Marshall Plan. I met many outstanding leaders on that trip, but I was fortunate to meet and know one of the giants.
We think back to that period, 27 years ago: Churchill, Eisenhower, Adenauer, de Gaulle. But a name not forgotten by any who knew him, but perhaps not well remembered by people who did not live through that period, one of the true giants of the post-war period, one of the men who helped to build the free Atlantic community that we presently enjoy, was Alcide De Gasperi.1
1Prime Minister of Italy (1945-53 ).
I remember how I, as a freshman Congressman, was impressed by this eloquent, sincere, intelligent, and very strong man. And it is interesting to me that the man whom we honor tonight has written a book about De Gasperi and that many in his country and in the world say that Prime Minister Andreotti is in the tradition of De Gasperi.
I have talked to him today. I know his background. I can only say that our honored guest is in that great tradition. He leads a strong nation and a strong people, and like De Gasperi, he is a strong man, the kind of a man that his nation, his people, and the free world needs at this time.
And for that reason, and many others, I know all of you will want to join me in a toast to Prime Minister Andreotti and Mrs. Andreotti.
To the Prime Minister. Salute.
Note: The President spoke at 9:49 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.
The President met with Prime Minister Andreotti at the White House on April 17 and 18. See also Item 124.
The Prime Minister responded to the President's toast in Italian. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:
I wish to thank you first of all--to repeat my warm thanks to you and to Mrs. Nixon for your very kind 'hospitality and reception, and I would like to continue in what you just said, and to the figure of De Gasperi whom you just remembered, by saying that De Gasperi taught us two things: First, there are no problems of one nation, there are only problems of the entire world. And secondly, he taught us that one should never be afraid of things even when something is very difficult, and in fact, he was not afraid of forming a government without Communists and without Socialists at a time when this seemed impossible.
The third thing which De Gasperi taught us was to initiate the creation of a united Europe and at the same time to maintain the solidarity and friendship between Europe and the United States.
I think that in the few words which I would like to say tonight, I may quote a sentence of Thomas Jefferson, who said in 1801, "Peace, trade, honorable friendship with all, and close alliances with few."
So this should be our star, the star which should always guide us and inspire us in our policy.
This morning at the lunch offered by the Secretary of State, I said that history teaches us one thing, that every time that Italy and Europe went in the same direction as the United States, things went well for the entire world, and the opposite was true when there was disagreement or a lack of friendship between Europe or Italy and the United States. And this should inspire us; this should serve us as inspiration for the future and for our political action.
You invited here tonight, Mr. President, some representatives of those people who do not lose their Italian' characteristics, although being very deeply American, and who transmit to their children those which are the best characteristics, which make the healthiest and best Italians, that is to say, the sentiment of family and of work.
These characteristics of Italo-Americans insure forever a very deep friendship between Italians and Americans, and I might quote as an example of this, the fact that when President Lincoln died, the citizens of Rome sent to the United States a stone which had been taken from the tomb of Servius Tullius, one of the ancient Roman kings, who was the first king who liberated the poorer classes of Rome and who gave some hope to the humble layers of the population.
So in the past, the United States was a kind of road to expectations for these Italians. Some of them had a very brilliant career and life in the United States. Some others were less successful. But we wish to unite all of them and to remember here their joys, their successes, their victories, or their failures.
There are so many Italians in every State of the United States that this morning at lunch when I met with Mr. Molisani1 and Astronaut Collins, I told him, "At least you are not Italian." And he told me, "No, I am not Italian but I was born in Rome."
1Howard Molisani was chairman of the Italian American Labor Council.
Mr. President, I am not going to talk politics. The political orientations which inspire you and which are based on a very moral conception of public life, however, are something for which all free men and the entire world should be grateful to you. And in the difficult road which leads us to peace and to a better standard of living for all the humble people in all nations, your leadership is certainly a decisive factor in order to achieve victories in this very hard struggle.
I would like to say two small things. First of all, I would like to present my respects to Mrs. Luce, who was the Ambassador of your country in Rome. She was very much respected and loved, and she was very good at understanding our country, and she had much affection for Italy. And I must say, this affection is still today very largely reciprocated.
Then, Mr. President, I am very grateful to you and to Mrs. Nixon for inviting Frank Sinatra. I am going to be able to listen to him singing here. This is something which will give much prestige to me with my children.
And lastly, let me use one symbol which was offered to me. The prophet Isaiah said you should change your swords into plows. Now Secretary Rogers changed swords into harps, since at lunch I saw an Army sergeant playing the harp. President Nixon changes swords into violins and cellos, because we saw military men playing violins and cellos, so let me hold this as a symbol for a better future in which we will have better men and peace.
And in this spirit, Mr. President, may I raise my glass to your health, to the well being of Mrs. Nixon, and to the greatness and prosperity of the American people.
Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Andreotti of Italy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255354