1.15.71 – The Dedication of The Eisenhower Center
On a brisk morning forty four years ago on Capitol Hill, President Richard Nixon stood before members of Congress and the National Committee to give a brief speech dedicating the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Republican Center. Upon completion, the building was intended to house the National Committee, the Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, the Young Republican Federation, the Federation of Republican Women, and the Capitol Hill Club.
In his speech, Nixon reflected on a conversation he had had with General Eisenhower after their victory in the 1953 presidential election, in which they had discussed the most valuable qualities an individual can present to an organization. The clear answer to Eisenhower was selflessness, described by him as the ability to sacrifice personal comfort for the good of the organization. In his address, Nixon praised US Representative James C. Auchincloss specifically for his dedication to the completion of the Center, and the selflessness and perseverance that he had exhibited in spite of an occasionally daunting lack of support.
Nixon also emphasized that though selflessness of the individual was important, an organization should also work towards its own form of this trait. He argued that the Republican Party was at risk of losing that attribute by working harder at defining itself by its limits rather than its goals. The President also stated that in doing so, Republicans could be potentially shutting a door on individuals who would otherwise be able to use the Republican Party as a platform to achieve their own goals and benefit the country. He invited those at the ceremony to be open minded about those willing to come together to support the Republican Party.
Nixon stated that the Republican Party should be thought of as an open and inclusive organization whose primary goal is to promote freedom for all people. He invited those gathered to view the Eisenhower Center as the first step towards building a symbolic ‘open door’ for those citizens devoted to the promotion of freedom and the unity of the nation.
“…ours should be the party of the open door, open to all people, all parties, all faiths, all races.”
–Richard M. Nixon
In closing his address, Nixon reiterated the two key thoughts he believed General Eisenhower would have wanted to convey on this occasion. First, the importance of personal sacrifice within political campaigns, no matter the outcome, and, secondly his advice that the Republican Party should focus on keeping its doors open to every American citizen.