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President Nixon's Resignation and Departure from White House
Air Date: 08/09/1974
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Nixon's Resignation and Departure from White House

JOHN CHANCELLOR, anchor:

 At 11:35 this morning, a letter was delivered to the office of the Secretary of State in Washington; this is a replica of it. It read in its entirety, I hereby resign the office of the President of the United States, sincerely, Richard Nixon. But there was more, much more. Mr. Nixon’s last day as the 37th president and Tom Brokaw has that story.

TOM BROKAW reporting: 

As president, Richard Nixon has drawn crowds to the vast ellipse south of the White House before, but those were triumphs, this was not. These people were witnesses to the saddest day in the life of Richard Nixon. These were his last hours as president of the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Nixon and their daughters made their final appearance as the first family in the White House East Room, the sight of so many state dinners, ceremonies and dramatic news conferences. The band played hail to the chief as the White House staff and cabinet applauded and cried. It was a very difficult time for this man who has so much pride in his public self-control. And his family, which has been through so much with him, struggled with their own emotions. It was time to say goodbye, in less than two-hours Richard Nixon would formally submit his resignation. But he would not acknowledge the scandal that brought it about.

President RICHARD NIXON: No man or no woman ever profited at the public expense or the public till, that tells something about you. Mistakes yes, but for personal gain, never. You did what you believed in, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. We want you to be proud of what you have done, we want you to continue to serve in government if that is your wish. Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty. Always remember that others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.

BROKAW: And then the transition took on a human form as the Fords and the Nixons walked out of the White House together. General Alexander Haig, Mr. Nixon’s Chief of Staff, with one final salute of encouragement to his commander in chief. Rosemary Woods, Mr. Nixon’s personal secretary and close family friend. Then the final helicopter flight as president away from the White House. When he landed in California, Richard Nixon was a private citizen but he drew thousands of cheering supporters to El Toro Marine Air base. From there he went to San Clemente near where he grew up and where as a boy he has written he listened to train whistles in the night and dreamed of far off places. Tom Brokaw, NBC News, Washington.