Return to Web Site
Following the news of President Nixon's death
in New York City on Friday, April 22, thousands came to The Richard Nixon
Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda to leave flowers, tributes, and
An all-service corps of honor carries
President Nixon's casket from Air Force Aircraft 26000 (used as Air Force One
during the Nixon Administration) after its arrival on Tuesday, April 26 at El
Toro Marine Air Station.
The skies cleared moments before the
motorcade carrying President Nixon's body arrived at the Library &
Birthplace early Tuesday afternoon.
Escorted by Dr. Billy Graham, members of the
Nixon family follow President Nixon's casket into the Library lobby, where the
President was to lay in State.
An honor guard stood watch over the
President's casket continuously from the time it was carried into the Library
Tuesday afternoon until the beginning of the State funeral Wednesday afternoon.
Flowers were sent to the Library by hundreds of well-wishers around the world,
including Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Despite the severe weather, local police
estimate that nearly 50,000 waited as many as 18 hours for the opportunity to
pay their respects to President Nixon. Throughout the night, the line stretched
nearly two miles.
As the doors were opened Tuesday afternoon for
the lying in State, the skies opened and produced the worst hail storm to hit
Yorba Linda in a generation. Dr. Billy Graham told a friend later that the late
President was making his presence felt once again in his home town. Outside the
Library, members of the Library's Docent Guild assisted mourners as they left
messages in a condolence book for the Nixon family.
The Nixon family. Pictured are Melanie,
David, and Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Edward, Christopher, and Tricia Nixon
Over 4,000 attended the services, including
family members, friends, a Congressional delegation of over a hundred members,
and a foreign diplomatic corps of 200.
The Presidents and First Ladies. Left to right:
Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton; George and Barbara Bush; Ronald and Nancy
Reagan; Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter; and Gerald and Betty Ford.
On behalf of the family of Richard Nixon, I
welcome you who have gathered to join with them in paying final respects to the
memory of Richard Milhous Nixon, the thirty-seventh President of the United
Today, in this service, we remember with
gratitude his life and his accomplishments and we give thanks to God for those
things he did to make our world a better place. Through this service may our
dedication to serving others be deepened and may our eyes be lifted to that
which is eternal.
Let us hear the word of the Lord: "Now help
us in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Our God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble. Peace I leave with you, my peace I
give unto you, not as the world giveth. Let not your heart be troubled, neither
let it be afraid. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be
DR. HENRY A.
56th Secretary of
During the final week of Richard Nixon's life,
I often imagined how he would have reacted to the tide of concern, respect,
admiration, and affection evoked by his last great battle. His gruff pose of
never paying attention to media comment would have been contradicted by a warm
glow and the ever so subtle hint that another recital of the commentary would
not be unwelcome. And without quite saying so, he would have conveyed that it
would mean a lot to him if Julia and Tricia, David and Ed were told of his
friends' pride in this culmination to an astonishing life.
When I learned the final news, by then so
expected yet so hard to accept, I felt a profound void. In the words of
Shakespeare, "He was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his
In the conduct of foreign policy, Richard
Nixon was one of the seminal presidents. He came into office when the forces of
history were moving America from a position of dominance to one of leadership.
Dominance reflects strength; leadership must be earned. And Richard Nixon earned
that leadership role for his country with courage, dedication, and
When Richard Nixon took his oath of office,
550,000 Americans were engaged in combat in a place as far away from the United
States as it was possible to be. America had no contact with China, the world's
most populous nation, and no negotiations with the Soviet Union, the other
nuclear superpower. Most Muslim countries had broken diplomatic relations with
the United States; Middle East diplomacy was stalemated. All of this in the
midst of the most anguishing domestic crisis since the Civil War.
When Richard Nixon left office, an agreement
to end the war in Vietnam had been concluded, and the main lines of all
subsequent policy were established: permanent dialogue with China; readiness
without illusion to ease tensions with the Soviet Union; a peace process in the
Middle East; the beginning, via the European Security Conference, of
establishing human rights as an international issue; weakening Soviet hold on
Eastern Europe. Richard Nixon's foreign policy goals were long range, and he
pursued them without regard to domestic political consequences.
When he considered our nation's interest at
stake, he dared confrontations, despite the imminence of elections and also in
the midst of the worst crisis of his life. And he bore with some pain the
disapproval of long-time friends and allies over relaxing tensions with China
and the Soviet Union.
He drew strength from a conviction he often
expressed to me: the price for doing things halfway is no less than for doing it
completely, so we might as well do them properly.
That is Richard Nixon's greatest
accomplishment. It was as much moral as it was political to lead from strength
at a moment of apparent weakness to husband the nation's resilience and thus to
lay the basis for victory in the cold war.
Shy and withdrawn, Richard Nixon made himself
succeed in the most gregarious of professions and steeled himself to conspicuous
acts of extraordinary courage. In the face of wrenching domestic controversy, he
held fast to his basic theme that the greatest free nation in the world had a
duty to lead and no right to abdicate.
Richard Nixon would be so proud that
President Clinton and all living former Presidents of the United States are
here, symbolizing that his long and sometimes bitter journey had concluded in
I wish that in his final hours I could have
told him about Brian McDonald, who, during the Cambodian crisis, had been
fasting on a bench in Lafayette Park across from the White House until, as he
said, President Nixon redeemed his pledge to withdraw American forces from that
anguished country in two months - a promise which was, in fact, kept. Across the
chasm of the decades, Brian called me the day Richard Nixon fell ill and left a
message, "When you talk to President Nixon, tell him that I'm praying for
So let us now say good-bye to our gallant
friend. He stood on pinnacles that dissolved into precipice. He achieved greatly
and he suffered deeply, but he never gave up.
In his solitude he envisaged a new
international order that would reduce lingering enmities, strengthen historic
friendships, and give new hope to mankind, a vision where dreams and
possibilities conjoined. When Richard Nixon ended the war, he advanced the
vision of peace of his Quaker youth. He was devoted to his family, he loved his
country, and he considered service his honor. It was a privilege to have been
allowed to help him.
Senate Republican Leader
I believe that the second half of the
twentieth century will be known as the "Age of Nixon." Why was he the most
durable figure of our time? Not because he gave the most eloquent speeches, but
because he always embodied the deepest feelings of the people he led. One of his
biographers said that Richard Nixon was "One of Us." And so he was.
He was the boy who heard train whistles in
the night and dreamed of all the distant places that lay at the end of the
track. How American.
He was the grocer's son who got ahead by
working harder and longer than everyone else. How American.
He was the student who met expenses by doing
research at the law library for 35 cents an hour, while sharing a rundown
farmhouse without water or electricity. How American.
He was the husband and father who said that
the best memorial to his wife were her children. How American.
To tens of millions of his countrymen,
Richard Nixon was an American here - a hero who shared and honored their belief
in working hard, worshiping God, loving their families, and saluting the flag.
He called them the "Silent Majority." Like him, they valued accomplishment more
than ideology. They wanted their government to do the decent thing, but not to
bankrupt them in the process. They wanted its protection in a dangerous world.
But they also wanted creative statesmanship in achieving a genuine peace with
honor. These were the people from whom he had come, and who have come to Yorba
Linda these past few days by the tends of thousands - no longer silent in their
The American people love a fighter, and in
Dick Nixon they found a gallant one. In her marvelous biography of her mother,
Julie recalls an occasion where Pat Nixon expressed amazement at her husband's
ability to persevere in the face of criticism. To which the President replied,
"I just get up every morning to confound my enemies."
It was what Richard Nixon did after he got up
every morning that not just confounded his enemies, but turned them into
admirers. It is true that no one knew the world better than Richard Nixon. As a
result, the man who was born in a house his father built would go on to become
this century's greatest architect of peace.
But we should also not underestimate
President Nixon's domestic achievements. For it was Richard Nixon who ended the
draft, strengthened environmental and nutritional programs, and committed the
government to a war on cancer. He leapfrogged the conventional wisdom to propose
revolutionary solutions to health care and welfare reform - anticipating by a
full generation the debates now raging on Capitol Hill.
I remember the last time I saw him - at a
luncheon held in the Capitol honoring the 25th anniversary of his
first inaugural. Without a note, President Nixon stood and delivered a
compelling speech, capturing the global scene as only he could, and sharing his
vision of America's future.
When it was over, he was surrounded by
Democrats and Republicans alike, each wanting just one more word of Nixonian
counsel, one more insight into world affairs.
Afterward, the President rested in my office
before leaving the Capitol. Only he got very little rest. For the office was
filled with young Hill staffers, members of the Capitol Police, and many others
. . . all hoping to shake his hand, get an autograph, or simply convey their
special feelings for a man who was truly "One of Us."
Today, our grief is shared by millions of
people the world over. But it is also mingled with intense pride in a great
patriot who never gave up and who never gave in.
To know the secret of Richard Nixon's
relationship with the American people, you need only listen to his own words.
"You must never be satisfied with success," he told us, "And you should never be
discouraged by failure. Failure can be sad. But the greatest sadness is not to
try and fail, but to fail to try . . . in the end, what matters I that you have
always lived life to the hilt."
Strong. Brave. Unafraid of controversy.
Unyielding in his convictions. Living every day of his life to the hilt. The
largest figure of our time, whose influence will be timeless. That was Richard
Nixon. How American.
May God bless Richard Nixon. May God bless
the United States of America.
Richard Nixon has a beautiful family, and he
was devoted to them. Anyone who ever saw them together knew his beloved Pat and
his girls, Tricia and Julie, were everything to him. He was so proud of them, of
his sons-in-law, Edward and David, and his grandchildren. But he also had a much
larger extended family, a family of those who worked for him and with him, and I
was and am very lucky to be a part of that family.
I was one of the many young men and women in
whom he inspired the same fierce loyalty that he gave to us. From the first, I
was struck by the quality of his personal generosity. When we met in 1962, he'd
already debated Khrushchev and President Kennedy; he'd already run for
President; he had been a major political figure on the world stage. But still he
had time to talk to and to help an eager, young advance man who could offer him
little but energy and enthusiasm.
Then, in the fall of 1965, when I was 32, he
honored me by asking me to come to work with him on his potential bid for the
Presidency in 1968. But he'd heard from Bob Finch and Herb Klein that I was
thinking about running for office myself. I told him it was true, and he
grinned. He grinned and he said in that deep, rich voice of his, "Is it a good
district? Can you win?" And then he said, "Because if you can, then Pete, you've
got to try or you'll never forgive yourself." I was just another young lawyer
trying to find his way in the world, and he was a former Vice President
preparing a bid for the highest office in the land. And yet that day, he was as
concerned with my future as he was with his own.
Time and again, not just with me, but with
many others, he was always there, willing to share his insight and his
experience, and no American in this century had more of either to share.
It is hard to imagine a world without Richard
Nixon. For half a century he played a leading role in shaping the events that
have shaped our lives. It is not just that he served for three decades in high
office; it is not just that he garnered more votes than any candidate in
American history. It was because his intellect, his insight and his indomitable
will could not be ignored. He moved on the world stage, he voiced bold ideas,
and he left global footprints.
But for all his mastery of global strategy,
it was right here in this small house in this little town in Orange County that
Richard Nixon learned and never forgot the values that shaped him and helped him
shape our world. He learned the value of hard work. He learned that to make
important changes you must take risks. And he learned the Quaker virtue that if
you were born with a good mind and good health, you were obliged to help others,
to give back to your community.
But he had something more, much more. When
most people think of Richard Nixon, they think of his towering intellect, the
incisive quality of his mind. Well, I will always remember him for another
quality. It is the quality that great fighters have. They call it heart. Heart
is what let Richard Nixon climb back into the ring time and again when almost
anyone else would have thrown in the towel.
It was his heart that taught us the great
lesson of Richard Nixon's life to never, ever give up. To him, it was no
disgrace to fight and be beaten. The only disgrace was to quit, and he never
did. Like this Golden State that bred and shaped him, he knew adversity was a
challenge to overcome. He loved returning to California, and he shared
California's optimism. And as he saw the state he loved facing the harshest
economic times since the Great Depression, his message to us was, "Keep walking,
keep working, and keep fighting, and you'll come back better than before."
The world will remember Richard Nixon rightly
as a fighter of iron will, but the greatness of a man can sometimes be best
measured by the times and the reasons that he chooses not to fight.
In 1960 many urged Richard Nixon to contest
one of the closest and most controversial elections in American history. But
Richard Nixon said no, he would not go to court. He refused to fight and he
urged others not to on his behalf. He would relinquish the prize that was his
life's ambition. Why? For a simple, but these days remarkable, reason. It was
because he so loved his country that he refused to risk it being torn apart by
the constitutional crisis that might ensue.
Forgive my parochial pride, but in this
modest home just a few feet from this stand was bred a grocer's son and a great
American, with deep love for his country, with limitless courage, and above all
with the faith and the brimming spirit and energy that creates only a handful of
great leaders from among the tens of millions of their fellow citizens. Dick
Nixon's heart, shaped by the grit and mores of this small town, never left
California, and now we return it to the soil that bred him.
He ended his own eulogy to Everett Dirksen
with a favorite quotation from the poet Sophocles: "One must wait until the
evening to see how splendid the day has been." And in Richard Nixon's evening,
his light burned bright with open and wise prescriptions for American and for
the world. Today, as we take him to rest, as we seek to measure the greatness of
the man and his legacy, it is clear how truly splendid Richard Nixon's day has
42nd President of the United
President Nixon opened his memoirs with a
simple sentence: "I was born in a house my father built." Today we can look back
at this little house and still imagine a young boy sitting by the window of the
attic he shared with his three brothers, looking out to a world he could then
himself only imagine. From those humble roots, as from so many humble beginnings
in this country, grew the force of a driving dream. A dream that led to the
remarkable journey that ends here today, where it all began beside the same tiny
home, mail-ordered from back East, near this towering pepper tree, which back
then was a mere seedling.
President Nixon's journey across the American
landscapes mirrored that of his entire nation in this remarkable century. His
life was bound up with the striving of our whole people, with our crises and our
When he became President, he took on
challenges here at home on matters from cancer research to environmental
protection, putting the power of the Federal Government where Republicans and
Democrats had neglected to put it in the past, and in foreign policy. He came to
the Presidency at a time in our history when Americans were tempted to say we
had had enough of the world. Instead, he knew we had to reach out to old friends
and old enemies alike. He would not allow America to quit the world.
Remarkably, he wrote nine of his ten books
after he left the Presidency, working his way back into the arena he so loved by
writing and thinking and engaging us in his dialogue. For the past year, even in
the final weeks of his life, he gave me his wise counsel, especially with regard
to Russia. One thing in particular left a profound impression on me. Though this
man was in his ninth decade, he had an incredibly sharp and vigorous and
rigorous mind. As a public man, he always seemed to believe the greatest sin was
remaining passive in the face of challenges, and he never stopped living by that
creed. He gave of himself with intelligence and energy and devotion to duty, and
his entire country owes him a debt of gratitude for that service.
Oh, yes, he knew great controversy amid
defeat as well as victory. He made mistakes, and they, like his accomplishments,
are a part of his life and record. But the enduring lesson of Richard Nixon is
that he never gave up being part of the action and passion of his times. He said
many times that unless a person has a goal, a new mountain to climb, his spirit
will die. Well, based on our last phone conversation and the letter he wrote me
just a month ago, I can say that his spirit was very much alive to the very end.
That is a great tribute to him, to his
wonderful wife, Pat, to his children and to his grandchildren, whose love he so
depended on and whose love he returned in full measure. Today is a day for his
family, his friends, and his nation to remember President Nixon's life in
totality. To them, let us say: may the day of judging President Nixon on
anything less than his entire life and career come to a close.
May we heed his call to maintain the will and
the wisdom to build on America's greatest gift, its freedom, and to lead a world
full of difficulty to the just and lasting peace he dreamed of.
As it is written in the words of a hymn I
heard in my church last Sunday, "Grant that I may realize that the trifling of
life creates differences, but that in the higher things we are all one." In the
twilight of his life, President Nixon knew that lesson well. It is, I feel,
certainly a fate he would want us all to keep.
And so, on behalf of all four former
Presidents who are here - President Ford, President Carter, President Reagan,
President Bush - and on behalf of a grateful nation, we bid farewell to Richard
The great king of ancient Israel, David, said
on the death of Saul, who had been a bitter enemy, "Know ye not that there is a
prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"
Today we remember that with the death of
Richard Nixon, a great man has fallen. We have heard that the world has lost a
great citizen and America has lost a great statesman. And those of us that knew
him have lost a personal friend.
You know, few events touch the heart of every
American as profoundly as the death of a President, for the President is our
leader. And every American feels that he knows him in a very special way,
because he hears his voice so often, sees him on television, reads about him in
the press. And so we all mourn his loss and feel that our world is a bit
lonelier without him. But to you who were close to him, this grief is an added
pain, because you wept when he wept and you laughed when he laughed.
And here amidst these familiar surroundings
under these California skies, his earthly life has come full circle. It was here
that Richard Nixon was born and reared, that his life was molded. But the
Scripture teaches that there is a time to be born, a time to live, and a time to
die. Richard Nixon's time to die came last Friday evening.
Since 1990, he had had a brilliant young
cardiologist as his doctor by the name of Jeffrey Borer, and last Tuesday, the
day after the President suffered his stroke, the doctor came by the New York
hospital to examine him. He was partially paralyzed and could not speak, but he
was still alert. And as the doctor talked, the President reached out and grabbed
his arm with an unusual strength. Then as the doctor turned to leave, something
made him turn around and look back to the bed where Richard Nixon was lying, and
just at that moment, the President waved and gave his trademark thumbs-up signal
and smiled. That took determination, which he had, and we have heard about
already today. It was an example of fighting on and never giving up that Jeffrey
Borer will never forget.
Now, President Nixon's great voice, his warm,
intelligent eyes, his generous smile are missed as we gather here again, just 10
months after we were here when his beloved Pat went to heaven.
A few months ago he was asked in a television
interview, "How would you like to be remembered?" He thought a moment, and then
replied, "I'd like to be remembered as one who made a difference," and he did
make a difference in our world, as we have heard so eloquently this afternoon.
There is an old saying that a tree is best
measured when it is laid down. The great events of his life have already been
widely recounted by the news media this week, and it is not my purpose to
restate what others have already said so eloquently, including those who have
spoken so movingly here today.
I think most of us have been staggered by the
many things that he accomplished during his life. His public service kept him at
the center of the events that have shaped our destiny. This week, Time
Magazine stated that "By sheer endurance he rebuilt his standing as the
most important figure of the post-war era."
During his years of public service, Richard
Nixon was on center stage during our generation. He had a great respect for the
Office of the President. I never heard him one time criticize a living President
who was in the office at that time. There is an old Indian saying: "Never
criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."
However, there was another side to him that
is more personal, more intimate, more human that we have heard referred to
several time today, and that was his family, his neighbors, and his friends, who
are gathered here today. It was a side that many people did not see, for Richard
Nixon was a private person in some ways. And then some people thought there was
a shyness about him. Others sometimes found him hard to get to know. There were
hundreds of little things he did for ordinary people that no one would have ever
known about. He always had a compassion for people who were hurting. No one
could ever understand Richard Nixon unless they understood the family from which
he came, the Quaker church that he attended, Whittier College where he studied,
and the land and the people in this area where you are sitting today. His roots
were deep in this part of California.
But there is still another side to him that
was his strong and growing faith in God. He never wore his religious faith on
his sleeve, but was rather reticent to speak about it in public. He could have
had more reasons than most for not attending church while he occupied the White
House when there were so many demonstrations and threats going on. But he wanted
to set an example, and he decided to have services most Sundays in the White
House with a small congregation and a clergyman from various denominations.
And I remember before one of the first
services that President Nixon had at the White House, Ruth and I and two of our
friends were in the private quarters with him. I will never forget the President
sitting down on the spur of the moment at an old battered Steinway that they had
there playing the old hymn, "He will hold me fast for my Savior loves me so; He
will hold me fast."
John Donne said that there is a democracy
about death. It comes equally to us all and makes us all equal when it comes.
And I think today every one of us ought to be thinking about our own time to
die, because we, too, are going to die, and we are going to have to face
Almighty God with the life that we lived here. There comes a time when we have
to realize that life is short and in the end the only thing that really counts
is not how others see us here, but how God sees us and what the record books of
heaven have to say. For the believer who has been to the cross, death is no
frightful leap into the dark, but is an entrance into a glorious new life. I
believe that Richard Nixon right now is with Pat again, because I believe that
in heaven we will know each other.
The Bible says for to me to live is Christ
and die is gain; there is a gaining about death. For the believer, the brutal
fact of death has been conquered by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the
person who has turned from sin and has received Christ as Lord and Savior, death
is not the end. For the believer there is hope beyond the grave. There is a
Yesterday, as his body was escorted to the
plane for its final journey here, the familiar strains of a hymn he especially
loved, maybe the hymn that he loved the most, were played; "Amazing Grace, how
sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I'm found;
was blind, but now I see. Through many dangers, toils and snares, I've already
come; `tis grace that brought me safe thus far, for grace will take me
That hymn was written 200 years ago by an
Englishman named John Newton. He was a cruel man, a captain of a slave ship. But
one night in a fierce storm he turned to God and committed his life to Christ.
Newton not only became a preacher of the Gospel, but he influenced William
Wilberforce and others in Parliament to bring an end to the slave trade. John
Newton came to know the miracle of God's amazing grace and it changed his life,
and it changed our lives as well.
And so we say farewell to Richard Nixon today
with hope in our hearts, for our hope is in the eternal promises of the Almighty
Years ago, Winston Churchill planned his own
funeral, and he did so with the hope of the Resurrection and eternal life which
he firmly believed in. And he instructed after the benediction that a bugler
positioned high in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral would play taps, the
universal signal that says the day is over. But then came a very dramatic
moment. As Churchill had instructed, another bugler was placed on the other side
of the massive dome, and he played the notes of revelry, the universal signal
that a new day has dawned and it is time to arise. That was Churchill's
testimony; that at the end of history, the last note will not be taps, it will
There is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus
Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.
Richard Nixon had that hope, and today that can be our hope as well.
And to the children and the grandchildren, I
would say to you, you have that hope within you hearts. I had the privilege of
knowing them when they were little girls, and I have seen them as they've come
to know Christ, and to know God in the lives. And we look forward to seeing Dick
and Pat some day in the future again.
Shall we pray?
God of all comfort, in the silence of this
hour we ask Thee to sustain this family and these loved ones, and to deliver
them from loneliness, despair, and doubt. Fill their desolate hearts with Thy
peace, and may this be a moment of rededication to Thee, our Father. Those of us
who have been left behind have the solemn responsibilities of life. Help us to
live according to Thy will and for Thy glory so that we will be prepared to meet
Thee. We offer our prayer in the name of Him, Who is the resurrection and the
light; Jesus Christ our Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
THE RICHARD NIXON LIBRARY &
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, is open daily 10:00am to
Sundays 11:00am to 5:00pm, featuring galleries, gardens,
memorials and the Birthplace of America's 37th President.
Library open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday
FOR EVENT INFORMATION
CALL TOLL FREE
RICHARD NIXON LIBRARY & BIRTHPLACE
18001 Yorba Linda
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
Telephone: (714) 993-5075
Fax: (714) 528-0544