Public Papers of Gerald R. Ford, 1975

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Author: Gerald R. Ford  | Date: July 27, 1975

442
Remarks at a Picnic at Kirchgoens, Federal Republic of Germany.
July 27, 1975

Thank you very, very much, Colonel Wagner. Minister of Defense Leber, General Haig, members of the Armed Forces and families:

It is a very great privilege and pleasure for me to be here with you today, but before I begin I have two questions.

The first question is: Is it true that the tent over there is filled with good old German beer?
Then the second question is: What are we doing out here? [Laughter]

I asked one soldier if he drank a lot of beer, and he said, "Of course not, sir." The only trouble is, then he tried to blow the foam off his sauerkraut. [Laughter]

But every one of you is entitled to all the beer, the sauerkraut, and anything else provided today. After your 2 hard months of intensive field training at Grafenwoehr, you deserve this picnic.

As your Commander in Chief, I am now issuing orders that tomorrow, Monday, all members of this brigade who participated in the maneuvers will be given an extra day off.

I am very, very proud to be here with the tankers, infantry, and artillery of one of the largest and most powerful combat brigades in Europe. And I am also just as pleased to be here with your wonderful families.

Let me say a very special word of commendation to our German partnership units. I thank you for the cooperation you are extending to the United States and our forces. Together you have developed outstanding skills and qualities that make first-rate fighting men. I am pleased that you are learning from each other, and I am also very pleased to meet your charming wives.

I deeply appreciate the very high standards of performance and morale of our NATO forces as represented by the Germans and Americans here today, and I thank the Federal Republic and the State of Hesse for the warm, warm hospitality extended to me and to all Americans who are stationed here.

There is a very deep satisfaction for me in this meeting here with all of you today. It is most rewarding to see firsthand this evidence of our two countries cooperating within NATO and for the common defense. It is you, together with the other forces of the Alliance, who are making our collective security a reality.

As we pursue peace together, I am aware that not all of the problems in Europe and the world have been solved. And I am convinced that under present circumstances, the best guarantee for peace is a very, very strong defense.

As President, speaking here in the presence of our allies, I affirm today that I will not allow our Armed Forces to be weakened under any circumstances. You deserve the best. You deserve the very best equipment and you deserve the strongest support of the citizens that you defend.

Chancellor Schmidt and myself will travel to Helsinki in the next few days to attend the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. It is not by accident, let me assure you, that I stopped here first to consult with our allies, nor that I now affirm our commitment to Berlin.

I assure the people of Berlin from this military base, which you soldiers call "The Rock," that I stand behind this rock and behind our commitment to the freedom of Berlin.

Secretary Kissinger spoke for me when he affirmed our policy on his recent visit to Berlin, and our national unity and determination in this regard were voiced there earlier this year by Senators Humphrey and [Hugh] Scott.

Soldiers, of course, do not underestimate the importance of your mission and its meaning for the entire world. You are the defenders of peace, and you have my full and unqualified support and respect.

I know that you are doing a great, great job. And you, by the demonstrations that you have given in person and by the equipment, you have boosted my morale, and let me express a deep personal gratitude.
I thank you very, very much for inviting me on this occasion.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:21 p.m. at the Ayers Caserne. The annual picnic was cosponsored by the l st Brigade, 3d Armored Division, and the German 13th Panzer Brigade.
In his opening remarks, the President referred

to Col. Louis C. Wagner, Jr., Commander, 1st Brigade, 3d Armored Division; Georg Leber, German Minister of Defense; and Gen. Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

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Chicago: Gerald R. Ford, "442 Remarks at a Picnic at Kirchgoens, Federal Republic of Germany.," Public Papers of Gerald R. Ford, 1975 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, 1975 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2020 Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZMC4SQ47DE87CK.

MLA: Ford, Gerald R. "442 Remarks at a Picnic at Kirchgoens, Federal Republic of Germany." Public Papers of Gerald R. Ford, 1975, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, 1975 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2020, Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZMC4SQ47DE87CK.

Harvard: Ford, GR, '442 Remarks at a Picnic at Kirchgoens, Federal Republic of Germany.' in Public Papers of Gerald R. Ford, 1975. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, 1975 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2020. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZMC4SQ47DE87CK.