following address was delivered by President Dwight David
Eisenhower on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the
founding of the United States Survey of the Coast, the original
name of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.
OF THE PRESIDENT AT THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER OF THE COAST
AND GEODETIC SURVEY, STATLER HOTEL, WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY
Mr. Secretary, Distinguished Guests, and My Friends: This
morning, early, someone visited my office with a long memorandum.
It was a suggested speech for me to make to you this evening,
and it was filled with facts about the long and glorious history
of the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
the thought crossed my mind: if you don't know more about
the history, the traditions, and the operations of the Coast
and Geodetic Survey than I do, then we have come to a pretty
pass. And certainly I saw no reason for taking your time to
tell you things that you knew so much better than I did.
in searching my mind for a thought that I might leave with
you tonight, I thought back over the years since 1910 when
I took the examinations for West Point.
I want to talk to you a second about public service. Often
in the military services and in the civil services, I have
heard people say: "Well, look what I am giving up here. I
have been offered thirty-four thousand dollars a year to go
with so and so."
reaction has always been one of sadness. I feel that the individual
who says that has lost all comprehension of what public service
really is. Because in the end I am quite certain that no one
can have any greater reward in this life than the consciousness,
or the belief - the feeling - that the society of which he
is a part approves of what he has done. And I doubt that they
worry too much about the number of dollars that are in your
estate. But they do say: "That man did his duty."
I think what I am trying to talk about this evening is: duty.
One of the greatest of all Americans, Robert E. Lee, said,
"We would not wish to do less than our duty. We cannot do
more." Others have described it as the most sublime word in
the English language.
So, when a whole group - the Coast and Geodetic Survey, can
look back over 150 years and have this feeling - and the conviction:
we have done our duty, I submit to you there are no words
that anyone can bring to you - the most brilliant adjectives
ever invented by man - that can say to you more. We shall
feel, as I am sure America feels - and as I know I do - that
the Coast and Geodetic Survey has done its duty for 150 years
to the United States of America. In my mind, that is far more
important than, on the basis of your charts and your surveys
- the figure they gave me this morning, which I still remember
- one hundred billion tons of American freight has come safely
into our harbors and along our coasts in a year.
means nothing, compared to the fact that this great body can
proudly say: We have done our duty.
Navy has a fine word, a fine way, of commending someone who
has done something that all of us would think unusual. They
merely say: Well done. And in the words of Lee, I don't think
- I don't believe - that anyone could wish for more. And so,
as I congratulate you on your birthday, and wish you many
more Happy Returns, I want to say that I salute you as a body
that to America has done its duty, and individually, as members
of a very proud organization.
you very much.