Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Toasts of the President and the King of the Belgians at the Belgian Embassy

May 13, 1959

Your Majesty and ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great privilege on behalf of the American people, sir, to salute you tonight as the head of the state of Belgium, one of the states that in all the dramatic vicissitudes of the past decades has stood firmly by the side of our country. It has earned and won not only our friendship but our great admiration and respect.

You are about to travel through other parts of the United States. Fortunately you will not be confined in your travels to the limits of New York City and Washington. And I say fortunately, because of the fact that you will see the United States as it is. I hope that you may be asked to dinner or for luncheon by a man who works with his hands, who probably will not wear a jacket and may have his sleeves rolled up when you arrive. But his invitation will mean that he shows to you America's respect for Belgium's courage, gallantry, stamina, and the capacity to recover from every kind of difficulty and catastrophe.

Because America loves Belgium, and you as its head, as a man that gives to the United States the image of Belgium, you will be welcomed warmly--more warmly, even, than you will in the joint session of the Congress or at any formal dinner that I could give.

I envy your opportunity to go back through this country and see such receptions. And when you go back, you will have brought America and Belgium closer together, and you will have bound them more firmly together in their love of freedom, their firmness in defense of justice, their determination that no atheistic dictatorship will ever dominate our right to think and work and worship as we please.

And so, as such a representative of your country, and as an individual who will bear back with him the great evidence of the affection of this country for your people and your person, I ask this company to join me in saluting the King of the Belgians.

Note: This toast, in response to a toast by King Baudouin, was proposed at a dinner at the Belgian Embassy in honor of President Eisenhower at 9:35 p.m. The toast proposed by King Baudouin follows:

Mr. President:

For three days now, I have enjoyed the hospitality of your great nation. I have been deeply touched by your personal welcome, and the greetings I received everywhere have found spontaneous echo in my heart.

In this short time, I have captured many visions that will accompany me throughout this land. Many visions I will bring back to Belgium. My pilgrimage to the shrines of Arlington and Mount Vernon, the reception given me by the Members of Congress, the friendly response of the representatives of the press, are all part of my own treasure house, never to be forgotten.

In a way this party is a goodbye party, because I shall not be able to retrace my steps and to return to this Capital City. It is also the opportunity given me to thank you, and through you the American people, for the privilege your invitation afforded me to visit the United States. To this expression of gratefulness on my part, I should like to add a message of good wishes on the occasion of the happy anniversary Mrs. Eisenhower is celebrating with Mrs. Doud today.

For me, this is a moment of keen anticipation. I am about to see at close hand your largest cities, your latest factories, your wide-open fields. I will meet with your industrial and labor leaders. I will come to know better the great American people, with generosity in their hearts and fearlessly striving for a better world. The might, the majesty of your country, will unfold before us. Such is the great adventure that awaits me.

Mr. President, you have found an everlasting place in the heart of Belgium. Not only did you lead us out of darkness into the light of freedom, but you have lived to personify the fearlessness and the equanimity of the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you now raise your glasses with me to the President of the United States.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Toasts of the President and the King of the Belgians at the Belgian Embassy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234842

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives