(courtesy of Mr. Larry Hadzima, Neillsville, WI)
March 15, 1956
Inauguration of the first session of the National Assembly.
Mr. Senior Deputy, Deputies:
I am happy to great you as the members of the first National Assembly of the Viet-Nam Republic. This gives me all the more pleasure when you bear in mind that here is the realization of a dream for which I have battled for 25 years.
The National Assembly, having its solemn opening today, represents an essential stage in the unfolding of the National and Democratic Revolution.
It is of course precisely because of the true importance of these things that the enemies of the people formed their coalition for sabotaging the Elections of March 4th. Thanks to the peoples’ enlightened patriotism and revolutionary conscience, they have succeeded in undoing these criminal maneuvers before the eyes of the observers of the Free World. From the cities to the most remote villages, the population courageously went forth to the polls to cast its vote according to the order of freedom for its Delegates to the National Assembly. At the same time as they give a demonstration of their political maturity, the Vietnamese People showed as well how in decisive moments they can speak as unanimously as they did at Dien-Hong.
Mr. Senior Deputy, Deputies: At this moment, when you take over the important responsibilities with which popular suffrage has invested you, let us think with gratitude upon the efforts of all those, living and dead, who have sacrificed themselves in order that such a day as this might dawn on our Republic. And let us not forget our friends of the free world, who have placed their confidence in us and have helped us with all their hearts.
May you be inspired in carrying out your duty by a sense of gratitude towards those who have given their lives for our country, and by the confidence the people have placed in you.
Deputies, by the Referendum of October 23, 1955, the people have conferred upon me the responsibility of establishing a democratic government. Calling the National Assembly into session constitutes the first stage in the accomplishment of this mission.
The most urgent task before us is to organize political power in such a fashion as to make it manifest and appropriate for giving shape to long range general policy, and at the same time preserving the fundamental rights of the Nation and of the individual human personality. A few days hence, when the National Assembly will have finished drawing up its internal statutes and setting up its offices, I shall submit to you constitutional principles capable of balancing the requirements of ever-unifying power against the growing pressures and diversities of life.
For a country as exposed as ours is from within and without, the possibilities of realizing the democratic ideal are of necessity limited. But we would betray the people were we incapable of responding to their ardent desire for a government of true freedom.
The living and unconquerable faith which sustained us through the last two years of heavy trials, the watchful intelligence which kept us from giving into despair and as a consequence turning to fascism, these must also furnish us with the resourcefulness and concentration to foster the growth of the permanent orientation of free men towards a democratic structure suited to the conditions and possibilities of the moment, but built out of genuine respect for the dignity of the individual, from an ideal conception of community life where the common good takes precedence over the good of the individual, from a pluralism which does not represent either social conservatism or a collection of anarchical contradictions.
More than anywhere else in the world, our democracy is and shall be a continuing and virile creation, and our freedom a freedom which is living, struggled for, fashioned out of a persevering and untiring effort for human liberty.
Our destiny must and will work itself out within these contexts. Whatever the historical circumstances which impose their limitations on the action we take, there must be no mistake about the direction in which our democracy is going, and the focus of our struggle. Ours is the path of the flowering of human personality, which has primacy over all temporal societies, and the center of gravity of our concerns can be nowhere else but in the walk of life where human personality is most gravely violated, namely Labor.
However, ideas are nothing without the men who alone can give them life. Deputies, I am convinced that you will be able to find for this country a government which, ever mindful of the claims of the full range of human personality, will never ignore the immense current of history which carries mankind onward towards formulas for collective life and community discipline.
(President Ngo Dinh Diem on Democracy, (Addresses relative to the Constitution) Press Office, Saigon - February 1958.)
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