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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Baunsgaard of Denmark

April 14, 1970

Mr. Prime Minister:

Earlier today we had the very great honor of welcoming you in the East Room due to the weather problem on the outside. And despite that problem, we want you to know that this welcome now in the State Dining Room is one that comes very much from our hearts.

This group gathered here knows your country, and anyone who knows your country from the United States has a great affection and a great admiration and a great respect for your country.

I could put that in a number of ways. I could refer to the rather official ways that I mentioned this morning, the fact that we have had friendly relations for 160 years, that we have worked together in the United Nations for the cause of peace and understanding among nations, and that we have been strong, firm allies in NATO.

I could also put it in terms that are personal, as I mentioned this morning, the fact that anyone who has known the hospitality of your country, in Copenhagen, or as my wife and I saw at Rebild on the Fourth of July, will never forget it and will always carry a special place in his heart for the Danish people.

But tonight I would like to speak of another heritage we have from Denmark in America. We are a nation of many peoples and we are very fortunate that is the case. And one of our good fortunes is that we have within America so many people who came from Denmark, who are proud of that national heritage, but who are also very fine Americans.

I could mention so many who are personal friends, one who is not here, but without whom I might not have ever been elected to the Congress 23 years ago. Another is Lauritz Melchior, who is a very good friend of the man who is not here, and who has inspired us all with his magnificent music through the years.

I speak of the Danes in America who have contributed personally to this country, and then, of course, we think of those things that are more material. We all think of Danish pastry, and Danish chocolate, and Tivoli Gardens, which Walt Disney told me and told the Prime Minister was the inspiration for Disneyland.

We think of so many other things that Denmark and the Danish tradition have contributed to America and to the culture and better living in the world.

Tonight I think it is particularly appropriate that I mention something else more important than these personal ties, more important even than these governmental ties, because it is the quality of the spirit that we owe to you and to your country.

When I think of Denmark, and I think this is true of most Americans, we think of Vikings. We think of those who had the courage and the spirit of adventure to travel to new worlds over uncharted seas. Because of that courage and the spirit of adventure, they contributed enormously to discovering the world.

I think tonight of three men, three men in outer space coming around the moon. I cannot say that they are men of Danish backgrounds. I do not know what their backgrounds are. That is not material and not relevant. But I do know that they have the spirit of the Vikings. They are men of adventure. They are men of courage.

Back home--and I talked tonight to their wives--the wives of two and to the mother of the one who is not married-they have women, who like the wives and the mothers of the Vikings of old waited at home with faith that their men would come back.

So tonight, while this in a way has been a day we would not have wished for on this special day that you came to visit us, it is perhaps just as well that this was the case, because we are reminded that we owe to Denmark and to the great tradition of your people and those in that area in which you live, that spirit of adventure which some way inspires us today, our young people.

May that always be the case, because when the time comes when the young in your land or our land lose their spirit of adventure, when they want to play everything safe, when they don't want to take the risks, when they don't want to take a chance, when they consult their fears rather than their hopes and their desires and their dreams, then your country and my country will not have the capability of greatness which you have in your country and which we hope we have in ours.

And it is in that spirit, therefore, that I ask all of you to rise--to rise and raise your glasses to not only the Prime Minister and his wife, but particularly to this spirit that we both share together among our peoples and to the head of state, His Majesty, King Frederik. To the King.

Note: The President spoke at 9:55 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Prime Minister Baunsgaard responded as follows:

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

On behalf of my wife, myself, and the members of the delegation, I extend to you, Mr. President, and to Mrs. Nixon, our most sincere thanks for the warm welcome given to us on our arrival today and for the very kind words you have just addressed to the Danes and to Denmark. We Danes who are here today have been looking forward to this visit with great expectations.

I have noticed that an airline, in an advertising campaign, has used a distorted map of the Western Hemisphere, in which the Atlantic Ocean is represented as a river between North America and Europe. "So close have we brought the two continents to each other," it says.

The ocean on which, nearly a thousand years ago, the Vikings fought their way westward to what was later to become known as the Vineland, and which even our great grandfathers regarded as a dangerous ocean separating two worlds, seems to us, and still more to our children, to be merely a small stream between neighboring lands.

The dwindling importance of distances was brought home to me again when three of the men whom we all think about today, visited me, and I was thinking of it because of what came on later. But, Mr. President, we know how much of the scientific field and what you say about the spirit of Vikings, and what we all owe America on this feat.

When I received the representatives of your astronauts in Copenhagen, as personal representatives for you, Mr. President, I was indeed thankful, and I really feel that they have today all our hopes and prayers that also the last three will have a happy ending.

Many Danes have over the years been attracted by this country, and through them many personal ties have been established between Denmark and the United States. These relations have provided a stable foundation for the solidarity and friendship between our two nations.

Denmark is the country which for the longest period has had uninterrupted diplomatic representation in the United States. These links, established nearly 170 years ago, have never been strained by any major problem; On the contrary, they have been increasingly fortified.

The solidarity between Denmark and the United States was never, I think, more strongly felt than in the early days of May, 25 years ago when Denmark regained her freedom. Then, and every 4th of May evening since, the Danes have lit candles in their windows as a visible expression that the torch of freedom had again been lit in our country and in Europe, thanks not least to your country's sacrifices in men and resources.

Today, as before, we cannot do without the active interest and engagement of the United States in European developments, and I think it fair enough to say that the United States cannot do without Europe. This interdependence finds its expression in the facts that we in Europe trust that the United States presence in Europe will continue and, consequently, that the United States will recognize its responsibilities for peace and security of the free world.

Especially during recent years cooperative efforts have been made in Europe to make it an equal partner to the United States. Denmark feels an ever increasing urge and demand for closer European cooperation, primarily among the countries with which we are already related in many different fields, the Nordic countries and several countries of Western Europe.

The Danish interest in membership of the European Communities is based not only on economic considerations but also on the political recognition that Denmark must necessarily hold a place in a united Europe.

However, there is also another Europe, Eastern Europe, which forms a natural part of our continent. We, therefore, welcome the relaxation of tensions and the rapprochement towards the countries of Eastern Europe which have been initiated during the last few years, and to which Denmark, like other countries, has tried to contribute.

I cannot stress enough how great importance we in Denmark attach to the efforts towards contact and dialogue which you, Mr. President, so strongly advocate. Only through reducing distances, removing distrust, and creating understanding we can have any hope of relieving tensions in the world and securing peace for our peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I extend a toast to the prosperity of the American people and to the President of the United States. To the President.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Baunsgaard of Denmark Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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