Historical Highlights

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress

October 05, 1945
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress Image courtesy of the United States Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz received a hero’s welcome before addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress a little more than one month after the end of World War II.
On this date, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of Allied naval forces in the Pacific during World War II, addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress. A little more than a month after the formal Japanese surrender that concluded hostilities in World War II, the nation’s capital gave Nimitz a hero’s welcome. The festivities began at 12:30 pm with his speech before Senators and Representatives gathered in the House Chamber. A parade to the Washington Monument with a reception immediately followed. One thousand U.S. Navy planes flew over the parade route and a squadron spelled out “N-I-M-I-T-Z.” The day concluded with a White House reception and lavish banquet at the Mayflower Hotel. At the Joint Meeting, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas introduced the Texas native, as “a great American, a great fighting man, one of whom all Americans are proud. . . .” In his 21-minute speech, Admiral Nimitz praised U.S. sailors and troops, describing American prisoners of war whom he had recently met for their “bright courage and unshaken confidence.” Nimitz opened his speech by noting, “I am here only as a representative of the brave men who fought under my command.” He also said that “no greater honor will come to me during my lifetime,” than to speak on behalf of those servicemen. He closed on a cautionary note, urging the nation to remain vigilant and prepared to defend itself, lest it repeat the mistake of being caught off guard as it was when Japan launched its surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

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