This month marks the anniversaries of two of the greatest events of President Nixon’s first administration. 43 years before this July 15th, President Nixon announced his intention to visit China – a dramatic beginning of one of the most important diplomatic ventures of the twentieth century. 45 years before this July 20th, the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission took one great leap for mankind – the lunar landing mission accomplished, as President Kennedy had promised, “before the end of this decade.”
Today, public opinion hails both the journey to China and the journey to the moon as among the proudest accomplishments in American history. The risks which both ventures entailed have paid off for future generations. The Shanghai Communique led to a more open relationship which now benefits both American and Chinese societies. The Apollo missions made technology such as the computer chip commercially available.
At the time, however, people across the globe delivered an enormous range of opinions to the White House in letters and telegrams. The letters ranged from eloquent to tactless, from celebratory to condemning. Altogether, they provide a fascinating portrayal of the world in 1969 and 1971.
Italian Rainbows and a Circus Blessing
The President received many letters of approval concerning the China initiative – not just from American citizens, but from a diverse array of people abroad. Improved relationships between the USA and China would lessen tensions throughout the world.
The former mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira, offered his succinct and lyrical approval in this July 17 telegram.
A hopeful July 17 telegram from Paula Busch, director of the Berlin Circus.
In this July 17 telegram, Australian activist J. B. Webb’s pun refers to the famous Chinese economic and social campaign.
A July 17 telegram from Asian-American business entrepreneur, Chin Nho.
Over the Moon With Praise
Americans and foreign people sent President Nixon a stream of admiring letters in the wake of the first successful moon landing.
A proud July 20 letter from a naturalized citizen, Thaddeus A. Zagorewicz.
This July 20 letter of congratulations from the mayor of San Salvador, Jose Napoleon Duarte, takes a political turn. He refers to the “Soccer War” which was just breaking out between El Salvador and Honduras at this time.
A sweet July 12 letter and drawing from Biagio and Frank Arangio from Florida.