Richard Nixon: ‘Farewell Speech’
You are here to say goodbye to us, and we don’t have a good word for it in English – the best is au revoir. We will see you again. Sure, we have done some things wrong in this Administration, and the top man always takes the responsibility, and I have never ducked it. But I want to say one thing: We can be proud of it – five and a half years. No man or no woman came into this Administration and left it with more of this world’s goods than when he came in. No man or no woman ever profited at the public expense or the public till. That tells something about you.
Mistakes, yes. But for personal gain, never. You did what you believed in. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong. And I only wish that I were a wealthy man – at the present time, I have got to find a way to pay my taxes and if I were, I would like to recompense you for the sacrifices that all of you have make to serve in government. But you are getting something in government – and I want you to tell this to your children, and I hope the Nation’s children will hear it, too – something in government service that is far more important than money. It is a cause bigger than yourself.
It is the cause of making this the greatest nation in the world, the leader of the world, because without our leadership, the world will know nothing but war, possibly starvation or worse, in the years ahead. With our leadership it will know peace, it will know plenty…. We think sometimes when things happen that don’t go the right way; we think that when you don’t pass the bar exam the first time – I happened to, but I was just lucky; I mean, my writing was so poor the bar examiner said, ‘We have just got to let the guy through.’ We think that when someone dear to us dies, we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat that all is ended. Not true. It is only a beginning, always.
The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.