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President Eisenhower's 1954 Dedication Video Text

President Eisenhower's Dedication Video Transcript
(back to video)

Mr. Secretary, Dr. Astin, my friends:

For the past 30 minutes or so, I have had the great privilege of a personally conducted tour through certain of the facilities of these new laboratories.

Now, the things that the layman sees in these laboratories are not to be understood by him. He grasps, though, that something of the most tremendous significance is proceeding here—significant not only to the scientist, to the industry, or the facility that may use the products of that science, and of the discoveries the scientist makes, significant to our Nation and to each of us, to our children, to the progress toward security and prosperity that each of us so desperately longs for.

It seemed to me, as I went through with Dr. Astin, that here we have a new type of frontier. This spot only a few short decades ago was inhabited by the Indians and by buffalo and by, finally, the trappers and the miners. It became the center of a great mining and agricultural region, which has meant so much to the United States in the past—and indeed, does now.

But the frontier days when we could go out and discover new land—new wonders of geography and of nature—has seemed largely in the past. But here, inside this building, we have a frontier possibly of even greater romantic value as well as greater material value to us than were some of the discoveries of those days.

Now another thought came to me as I went through these laboratories. In recent years the scientists have produced so much that terrifies us with its destructive force, that we begin to think of science as only something to destroy man, and not to promote his welfare, his happiness, his contentment—his intellectual and spiritual growth.

But I think if we think of it this way, we will drop such thoughts from our minds: Almost everything that man has discovered in his long, long journey from darkness toward the light has been capable of two uses: one good, one evil.

Way back, long before history was started, man discovered fire. Without fire we wouldn't be warm, we couldn't cook, we would be still in the depths of savagery. Yet look how destructively fire can operate.

Take dynamite. We think of dynamite as a weapon of war; yet how much of it has been used in your hills here, in developing the great lead, zinc, silver, and gold mines that have made Colorado famous and rich.

I submit that every discovery of science can be used in one of two ways. It is not the fault of science if it is used wickedly, it is within ourselves.

And therefore, in the words of he who gave our invocation, possibly each one of us is a laboratory, to discover what we can contribute toward the growth of that kind of spirit among men that will make all of these discoveries of these dedicated scientists become assets to us, as we try to develop for ourselves and our children a better life, a richer life, one that gives us more opportunity to grow intellectually and spiritually.

And I think it is in those terms that we should think of the growth of science, as we think of these men laboring in this building, of our scientists in our universities, and in the Bureau of Standards in Washington, in the great factories of our Nation.

Having faith that if we, each of us does his part, then we will steadily go down the ages as a people more prosperous, more happy, more secure, more confident in peace.

Now those are the thoughts that occurred to me as I walked through this building. I believe this region of the United States is fortunate to have this facility here, to remind you of these things day by day, that you may at least in a sense become a part of some of these great discoveries that will be so useful to mankind—now, and through all the years yet to come.

I have now two little duties to perform, one most pleasurable. The first is to thank you—each of you—for your welcome to me, for the cordiality of your reception.

The second is that I am privileged to push a usa-button—and of course, this being a scientific thing, you couldn't do it by just pulling a cord—this is very scientifically done, this dedication. But by pushing this usa-button, they tell me that I am going to release the veil over the cornerstone; and in so doing, it is my high privilege to dedicate this facility of the Bureau of Standards to the welfare of humanity, in America and throughout the world.

Created September 5, 2012, Updated January 3, 2017