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Toasts of the President and the President of Ecuador

June 22, 1951

Mr. President, Senora Plaza, ladies and gentlemen:

I can't tell you how very much I appreciate the kind remarks which you have just made. Your visit here has been most helpful to the cause of understanding democracy in the Western Hemisphere, and in all the world for that matter.

The Vice President reported to me, sir, that you had made the best speech that the Congress has listened to in many a day--and I made them an address last January!

We are most happy that you are here. We hope you have had a pleasant visit. We know that you have created a better understanding between the Government of the United States and the Government of Ecuador, if that needed to be done.

Our ambition and interest is world peace. And that, I know, is your ambition and interest.

I am extremely sorry that Mrs. Truman and my daughter have not been here to meet Senora Plaza and your lovely daughters. Margaret is in Paris. Mrs. Truman had to be in Independence with her mother who is not very well--she is 89 years old--and her daughter has to be with her as much as possible.

I hope, Mr. President, that you will have a most pleasant visit all over these United States. I know you will have a cordial welcome wherever you go. They can't do anything else but give you a cordial welcome, because they are interested--all the citizens of this country--in the welfare of the whole hemisphere, and I am sure the whole world. It is a pleasure to me to be your host and the representative of the 150 million citizens of the United States of America.

I hope that the time will come when it will be possible for me--whether I am President or not--to visit that wonderful city of Quito. I studied that book carefully and sincerely when you gave it to me, and it made me want to be in Quito all the more. I have always wanted to go there, because it is one of the most wonderful capitals of the world, from a historical standpoint and from its situation--the only capital in the world that is right under the equator. It has a very high elevation. And it has a wonderful people. And in the book which you gave me, it has marvelous architecture.

I wonder if you would join me in a toast to His Excellency, the President of Ecuador, and his wonderful First Lady, Senora Plaza.

Note: The President's toast was in response to a toast proposed by President Galo Plaza at a state dinner which he gave for President Truman in the Congressional Room of the Statler Hotel in Washington. The toast proposed by President Plaza follows:

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

I am about to leave Washington tomorrow, and I have no words that can appropriately describe my feelings, after the cordial reception that I have received from my friends, from the Government, and from everyone here in Washington. I will never forget this visit to your great city.

This morning the President of the United States gave me the greatest surprise of all. I called on him, and he put on my chest the Medal of Merit. I did not know that I was going to receive this great honor. It came as an absolute surprise. And I have just told him that it couldn't have been better if he had given me a battleship instead.

This morning, when I visited him, I gave the President a book, with pictures and descriptions of our city of Quito. The book is written in both Spanish and English, and it has descriptions of our old colonial city and our old churches built during colonial times 250 and 300 years ago.

The book was given to the President for a reason. I want to invite him tonight to come to Quito and visit me, and I wanted him to be well-read on the city.

In times like these I think it is appropriate to repeat what I have been saying at different opportunities: all the countries of the free world--and the countries of Latin America in particular, and speaking for my own country--we realize our responsibilities, and we are willing to help to the limit of our possibilities.

At the beginning of the last war, a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ecuador offered the United States the use of the Galapagos Islands and points on the coast of Ecuador, without any strings attached to them, just a contribution--a small contribution-but our contribution, the very minute an emergency appeared.

And I want to make it clear that if such an emergency came about again, my country would be willing to put at the disposal of the United States and the United Nations the same facilities as before, or any others that we may have that might prove worthwhile to the cause of the free world.

As I said before, my gratitude has no limits for this opportunity, thanks to the invitation of the President of the United States to come here. It is one more proof of the greatness of this country. I am not the head of a great country. There is no great result of any nature that can be derived from my visit. But the United States--the Government of the United States, the people of the United States-are not measuring the size of what I have done; it is the quality of what I have done. It is what I stand for, whether it be done in a country of 300 million or a small country like mine. That is very important. That is one more proof of what the Christian philosophy of this country stands for.

I may say, at this time, that the problems of today, the importance of what happens in the United States to the rest of the world has kept us all posted and informed on your problems, your politics, your achievements.

And, we follow very closely the outstanding performance of the President of the United States. We admire him. He has a tremendous job. He not only has to fight the enemies of his country--the enemies of his philosophy of life--but he has another great enemy to face, an enemy from among his own people--and in including his people, I am speaking of all the people in the free world--that great enemy is lack of understanding.

We all feel the same way. We all want to defend what we have, but we cannot agree on the way of going about it. And therefore the decisions of the head of the most powerful nation in the world many times has to be carried out in spite of great misunderstanding.

I am sure that in the future, when these trying times are seen with the necessary perspective that only time can bring about, that the figure, the personality, of your President will at last be seen in all its value.

I want you, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in drinking to the health of the President of the United States.

Harry S Truman, Toasts of the President and the President of Ecuador Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230224

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