Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  69. Remarks on Presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to Commander Richard H. O'Kane, USN, and Master Sergeant Charles L. McGaha, USA  
March 27, 1946

Ladies and gentlemen:

I think I have said on several different occasions that this, in my opinion, is the most pleasant and the most honorable job that a President of the United States has to do, to pin the medals on the heroes who have made the country great.

I have said it time and again, and I will keep on saying it, that I would rather have a Medal of Honor than be President of the United States.

These two men are samples of our fighting men in this late war. They did not, I am sure, when this action was taking place--they were not thinking of any heroic action. They were thinking only of doing their duty. They were thinking only of doing what the situation called for.

Now we have these men back home. We have those who were unfortunate, who came back maimed and crippled. This country, cannot do too much for those men. But these young men who came back sound of wind and limb, are going to go to work for this country in peacetime, just as they worked for it in wartime.

We are on the verge of the greatest age in history. We have eleven million young men who have had this training--the training which caused these heroes to act promptly and rightly in the right place. This training will help to make great citizens, who will do in peacetime for this great Nation what they did for it in wartime.

That is the reason I am not uneasy or alarmed about the future of the United States of America.

We have these young men, made of the same stuff as these two men Do. whom I have pinned these medals, to see that the country goes on to its destiny of leadership in the world. The Lord intended us 25 years ago to lead the world to peace. We shirked that duty. He has given it back to us once more, that same duty. We are not going to shirk it this time. We are going to take our place as He intended us to take it. We have won the war, and we are going to win the peace, too. We have the trained citizens now to help us win it.
Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President read the citations and presented the medals in a ceremony held at 12:30 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.