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Home > Formation of Marshall Center > Remarks by Eisenhower at the Dedication of the Marshall Center

Remarks By President Eisenhower
at
the Dedication of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center,
at Huntsville, Alabama on September 8, 1960


Photograph of Eisenhower and Mrs. Marshall unveiling bust of General MarshallGovernor Patterson, Mrs. Marshall, Mayor Searcy, Dr. Glennan, Dr. von Braun, Members of the Congress, Other Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Americans:

It is always good to come back to our Southland, this region traditional of hospitality and friendliness. I thank you both, Mr. Governor and Mr. Mayor, for making me feel welcome, and so much at home.
I have long looked forward to visiting this spot. I know that, for an old foot solider, it will be a revelation to see at firsthand the efforts here underway to probe into the mysteries of the universe millions of miles from our earth.

Already, in brief visits with your distinguished men of rocketry, I have made a significant discovery of my own.

I find that the leaders of the new space science feel as if Venus and Mars are more accessible to them than a regimental headquarters was to me as a platoon commander forty years ago.

To move conceptually, in one generation, from the hundreds of yards that once bounded my tactical world to the unending millions of miles that beckon these men onward, is a startling transformation.
I freely admit to sentimentality in my contemplation of these advances, because so much of this dramatic accomplishment was pioneered by the United States Army, which until recently was my life and my home.

Here, under Army guidance, Redstone and Jupiter and a whole family of missiles have taken form. Here, too, was created Explorer I, America's first earth satellite. I share with the Army its gratification in these trailblazing achievements, which have their counterparts in other services. These achievements have thrilled the American people and won plaudits throughout this world.

The momentum thus gained accelerates today under the civilian management of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration, guided by Dr. Glennan, and his Deputy, Dr. Dryden. The gifted scientists, engineers and technicians who splendidly served the Army are now eagerly developing, for this new organization, the gigantic launch vehicle, "Saturn."

No doubt this mighty rocket system makes its presence known loudly possibly too loudly -- in Huntsville. But it is a significant forward step in our conquest of space and for growth in human comprehension.
Already we have improved our understanding of matter, energy, motion and life processes through our early efforts in space.

The characteristics of the radiation belts girdling the earth -- the true nature of our space environment, including solar storms -- the appearance of the earth's total cloud cover -- the feasibility of a world-wide communications system utilizing satellites -- these and other space ventures have opened new vistas of thought, understanding, and opportunity.

These, of course, are only beginnings. This past month new milestones in space exploration have been headlined throughout the world. As the months go by we shall see many more.

Marvel as we will these technical achievements, we must not overlook this truth:

All that we have already accomplished, and all in the future that we shall achieve, is the outgrowth not of a soulless, barren technology, nor of a grasping state imperialism. Rather, it is the product of unrestrained human talent and energy restlessly probing for the betterment of humanity. We are propelled in these efforts by ingenuity and industry -- by courage to overcome disappointment and failure -- by free-ranging imagination -- by insistence upon excellence -- with none of this imposed by fiat, none of it ordered by a domineering bureaucracy. In this fact is proof once again that hard work, toughness of spirit, and self-reliant enterprise are not mere catchwords of an era dead and gone. They remain the imperatives for the fulfillment of America's dream.

Not pushbuttons nor electronic devices, therefore, but superlative human qualities have brought success and fame to this place. These qualities I mention here because they typify a distinguished American -- George Catlett Marshall -- in whose name we carry forward this activity.

General Marshall was supremely endowed. He was a man of war, yet a builder of peace - forceful and dynamic as a leader, calculating and prudent in judgment, yet warmly regarded by his associates. He was selfless, indeed self-effacing, yet known and admired throughout the world. Though dominating in personal force, in action and thought he was humble and considerate.

Northern born and Southern schooled, all-American through military service, he ultimately became a citizen of the world. I, of course, knew him best during the prosecution of World War II. I found him immune to discouragement, relentless in carrying the war to the enemy, and unsparing of himself in his leadership of the great forces he directed. But so profound was his devotion to the constructive works of peace -- so outspoken was he their advocate as Secretary of State -- that he later became the symbol of renewed hope for scores of millions of suffering people through his great Plan for Europe that will forever bear his name. He became, in consequence, the only professional soldier ever to be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize.

During his final twenty years he lived with, he counseled and influenced, the greatest men and movements of his time. Through it all he remained unaffected, reserved, completely disinterested in self, and dedicated to our Nation's highest ideals.

We, participating in this brief ceremony, agree with Sir Winston Churchill, that "succeeding generations must not be allowed to forget (General Marshall's) achievements and his example."

There are ways to do this that General Marshall would have prized far more than what we do here today. It is not enough that we rest with praise of his name.

But we can newly resolve to work ceaselessly, with all our hearts and with such talents as we may possess as did he throughout his life, for the good of this land and its freedoms.

Thus we shall carry forward the noble mission of our Republic, ever striving to strengthen peace, ever advancing the cause of human liberty, ever doing our best to build a better life for all.

That is what George Marshall would wish of us today.

In this spirit, and with deep satisfaction in having shared in this tribute to a revered friend, I dedicate this, the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

May this great Center be ever worthy of its honored name.

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