– President Eisenhower – Address to graduating class at Dartmouth College – June 14, 1953 –
President Eisenhower, in what was initially intended to be off-the-cuff remarks to the graduating class of Dartmouth College, where the President was also receiving an Honorary Doctorate Degree, quickly became centerpiece for a period of time engulfed in controversy and change, where the Cold War at home was reaching a fevered pitch, and East-West relations were at an all-time low. Eisenhower’s casual remarks imploring the class not to “join the book-burners to conceal faults as if they never existed” made headlines all over the world.
President Eisenhower: “It is not enough merely to say I love America, and to salute the flag and take off your hat as it goes by, and to help sing the Star Spangled Banner. Wonderful! We love to do them, and our hearts swell with pride, because those who went before you worked to give to us today, standing here, this pride.
And this is a pride in an institution that we think has brought great happiness, and we know has brought great contentment and freedom of soul to many people. But it is not yet done. You must add to it.
Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.
How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, and what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It is almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.
And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they are accessible to others is unquestioned, or it isn’t America”.
Here is that complete address by President Eisenhower, as it was given on June 14, 1953.
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