Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969

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Author: Richard M. Nixon  | Date: September 8, 1969

358
Remarks Following Aerial Inspection of Damage Caused by Hurricane Camille in Mississippi.
September 8, 1969

Governor Williams, Senator Eastland, Senator Stennis, Chairman Colmer, the other distinguished Members of the Congress, the other distinguished guests here on the platform, and all of this magnificent crowd here in Gulfport, Mississippi:

I want to express appreciation to you for giving me and my wife such a warm welcome and to tell you that as I flew over the damage today in Mississippi, I could see that the facts that have been given to me before could not adequately state that damage.

As you know, this is the worst storm that has been recorded in 100 years of recording storms in the United States and that means that it probably is the worst in terms of damage, physically, that any State or any area has ever suffered.

As you know, thousands have been made homeless, hundreds are dead, hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage—all of this I saw before me as we flew over Mississippi today.

Then, for a few moments, as the plane landed and as we stepped out on the platform and looked at this huge crowd, I realized that whatever had happened to Mississippi from the standpoint of physical destruction, the spirit of the people of Mississippi is still high and it will continue to be high.

I am very proud as I stand before you as an American, not just as President of the United States but as an American speaking to my fellow Americans, to see such a wonderful spirit despite the adversity which you have suffered.

I do not want to sound now as if all that happened to you could turn out to be for the best. But could I for a moment remind this great audience of some of the lessons of history?

Throughout history we have found that great natural disasters have either made or broken civilization, and the same can be said of a man or a woman, a disaster can make or break him.

Also, throughout history we have found that when a people are able to survive a disaster that they then develop a greatness that otherwise they never would have had or never knew that they had, because what was required of them was to develop a new approach and a new spirit and a new way of life which they otherwisemight never have discovered.

I refer, for example, to my own State of California. One of the most beautiful cities in the world is San Francisco, and yet San Francisco 60 years ago was leveled by an earthquake and a fire. It came back more beautiful than ever.

I refer in more recent times to Anchorage, Alaska. I saw the destruction there in that earthquake 5 years ago. Yet, Anchorage, Alaska, has come back and it is going to be a greater city and the people of Anchorage will have a greater challenge and will be a greater people than ever before.

I predict today that the people of Mississippi and particularly those that have suffered damage will come from this destruction and you will rise from it and be a greater people than was the case before. And we congratulate you for that kind of a spirit.

On the part of your Federal Government, I can certainly pledge to you a continuation of the interest that we have already shown, an interest that is not partisan-it represents all the people of this country; an interest in terms of all the departments of Government, all the agencies in Government; an interest which is shared by the Members of the House and the Senate, led by your own House and Senate delegation.

I can pledge to you, too, that what has happened in Mississippi, and also to the neighboring State of Louisiana and areas there, has touched the heart of the Nation and volunteer organizations are making their contributions.

I was touched on the night when I called the Bob Hope telethon to hear that over $ 1 million had been raised that very night from all over the Nation for the people here who suffered in Mississippi.1

1See Item 341.

I know, too, that here in this State, under the leadership of your Governor and working with the Members of the House and the Senate, and also the State legislature, that you have set up an unprecedented group of private citizens and government officials to work together for a new kind of cooperation, a plan in which you will not just rebuild as it was, what was old, but in which you will build a new area, not only new buildings, but new ideas and new opportunities for all of the people of this great State. What a challenge that is.

I am confident you are going to meet it. I am confident because of the words that I have heard during these past few minutes from the leaders of your State, both at the State level and your representatives in Washington, D.C.

But I am confident for another reason, for what I see before me here today, thousands of people. I saw your cars lined up for miles and I hear that some of you have been here since 2 o’clock this afternoon. I realize what you have done and the demonstration which this really symbolizes. And what it means is this: It means that no matter how many millions of dollars we get from Washington, no matter how much you are able to get from the State government or from your county government, no matter how much comes from the various volunteer organizations from all over America, that what really counts are the people.

Because, if the heart of the people and the spirit of the people and the strength of the people are not sound, then all of the money in the world will not help. As Icome to Mississippi today, I say that the heart and the spirit and the strength of the people of Mississippi has never been stronger. And that means you are going forward to a greater future than ever before.

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, we won’t have the time to meet and shake hands with everybody here because we have to fly on to Washington, but we would like to meet some of you and if we don’t meet you all, just remember, we wish that we could and maybe next time.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:25 p.m. at the Gulfport Municipal Airport in Gulfport, Miss. Coy. John Bell Williams, Senators James O. Eastland and John Stennis, and Representative William M. Colmer, Chairman of the House Rules Committee were all from Mississippi.

White House releases announcing allocations of Federal disaster relief funds to Mississippi on August 18 and October 2, 1969, are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, PP. 11365 and 1355).

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Chicago: Richard M. Nixon, "358 Remarks Following Aerial Inspection of Damage Caused by Hurricane Camille in Mississippi.," Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049 714–715. Original Sources, accessed February 6, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94IWI6UWFKXXZ3Z.

MLA: Nixon, Richard M. "358 Remarks Following Aerial Inspection of Damage Caused by Hurricane Camille in Mississippi." Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049, pp. 714–715. Original Sources. 6 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94IWI6UWFKXXZ3Z.

Harvard: Nixon, RM, '358 Remarks Following Aerial Inspection of Damage Caused by Hurricane Camille in Mississippi.' in Public Papers of Richard Nixon, 1969. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1048-1049, pp.714–715. Original Sources, retrieved 6 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94IWI6UWFKXXZ3Z.