American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Nixon" (1995)


Farewell Address to White House Cabinet and Staff

Audio mp3 delivered by Anthony Hopkins


Nixon: There are many fine careers. This country needs good farmers, good businessmen, good plumbers, good carpenters. I remember my old man. I think that they would have called him sort of a -- sort of a little man, common man. Well, he didn't consider himself that way.

You know what he was? He was a streetcar motorman first; then he was a farmer; and then he had a lemon ranch. It was the poorest lemon ranch in California -- I can assure you. He sold it before they found oil on it. And then he was a grocer. But he was a great man because he did his job, and every job counts, up to the hilt, regardless of what happened.

Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother. But my mother was a saint. When I think of her two boys dieing of tuberculosis, and seeing each of them die, and when they died. Yes, she will have no books written about her. But, she was a saint.

Now, however, we look to the future. I remember something Theodore Roosevelt wrote when his first wife died in his twenties. He thought the light had gone from his life forever. But he went on and he not only became President, but as an ex-President he served his country, always in the arena, tempestuous, strong, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but he was a man. And as I leave, that's an example I think all of us should remember.

You see we think sometimes when things happen that don't go the right way, we think that when someone dear to us dies, when we lose an election, or when we suffer defeat, that all is ended. Not true. It's only a beginning, always, because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you're 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.

So, I say to you on this occasion, we leave, proud of the people who have stood by us and worked for us, and served this government and this country. We want you to continue to serve in government, if that is what you wish. Remember, always give your best; never get discouraged; never be petty. And always remember: Others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then, you destroy yourself.

And so we leave with high hopes and good spirits and deep humility. And I say to each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you, but always you will be in our hearts, and you will be in our prayers.

And only then will you find what we Quakers call "peace at the center."

See also: Nixon's actual farewell address to cabinet & staff.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.