Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech on receiving Freedom Foundation’s American Friendship Medal

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: 1200.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 588
Themes: Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (USA)

President Miller, Henry CattoAmbassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I say how very grateful I am to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for awarding me with this American Friendship Medal, and for your very generous words in making the presentation.

I know what a very great distinction this award [end p1] is and I am proud and honoured to receive it.

Some very great names are among the earlier recipients: people who truly fought for freedom.

Great Statesmen such as Winston Churchill and President Sadat. [end p2]

Individuals who have had to suffer greatly for their dedication to freedom, but have had the courage and determination to stand up for it in the most difficult circumstances. I think of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Lech Walesa—and of course we are now seeing the result of his dream of freedom for his people closer than ever to being realised. [end p3]

I remember meeting him in Gdansk last year, and going with him to the local church, where hundreds of his supporters were gathered, and feeling—palpably feeling—the strength of their passionate belief in freedom.

It was an incredibly moving experience.

There is another reason why I am proud to be a [end p4] recipient of the medal, and that is because I know what excellent work the Freedoms Foundation does. You teach young Americans about their history, and help them to appreciate freedom and the institutions of a free society.

It is all too easy to take these great gifts for granted, and so very important that [end p5] the young generation should learn how our freedoms were achieved and at what cost: and also that they should learn that freedom is not just something you enjoy, it incurs responsibility and duties. Unless our young people learn that, then freedom becomes devalued.

Your Foundation has been carrying out these tasks for forty years—the whole lifetime of [end p6] the NATO Alliance—and I congratulate you very warmly on that.

But perhaps most of all I am proud today because you have spoken of my loyalty to the United States. That is very important to me, because I believe passionately in the great friendship between the British and American peoples and see it as the [end p7] guarantee of the peace with freedom and justice which both our countries seek.

It has been my privilege to work as Prime Minister with three American Presidents—and of course another great President, Dwight Eisenhower, was Chairman of your Foundation for many years. We recently unveiled a statue to him in Grosvenor Square and I hope you will find [end p8] time to go and see it while you are here.

I believe that loyalty to one's allies—and politically to our closest ally, the United States—is vital. We both know that we can depend on each other absolutely, whether it was in the Second World War, or during the Cold War years, or over Libya, or whenever one or other of us needs help and support. [end p9]

That was true under Ron Reagan and I know that it will be just as much the case under George Bush, who is such a marvellous President and great friend of this country.

So I say without hesitation that so long as I am Prime Minister of this country we shall always be at the side of the United States [end p10] in moments of danger and adversity, because that way freedom is safe.

Mr Miller, I thank you and your colleagues most warmly for doing me this great honour, and wish the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge every success in the future.