Please extend my warm personal greetings to the officers and delegates attending the present convention of the National Maritime Union. I am confident that, as in the past, your deliberations will result in decisions that are in the best interest of our Nation as well as your membership. I am especially interested and share your concern with your problems and in particular the "runaway ship" threat to the high standards which you and your union have fought for and established over the years. The "runaway ship," like its counterpart, the "runaway shop" is a hit-and-run operation which should be stopped. America's road ahead is not an easy one. Abroad, we face the constant threat of Communist imperialism. At home, we face many domestic problems that cannot be solved by looking the other way and claiming that we "never had it so good."
I am convinced that our country must remain strong if it is to maintain its role as the hope of free men. Our defense must be second to none, our merchant marine at full strength, our commitments to the world's people clear and unmistakable.
To do otherwise would be to flounder helplessly at sea while international events pass us by. Within our own Nation we must also give real leadership to the many moral and economic problems that face a large number of our citizens. We must end - once and for all - each and every form of discrimination. The world must know that America's Chief Executive, as well as its Congress, fully support and endorse the Supreme Court's decisions to translate civil rights from a slogan into a reality that can be enjoyed by all. On the economic scene, we must prove that our Nation will not rest as long as segments of our people are in want. We can - and must - develop programs that will give all of our people - not just some of us - the high standard of living that we proclaim before the world. It is to the credit of the NMU - and all of organized labor - that America's trade unions have long recognized and fought for these goals. I am sure that your present convention will preserve your long tradition of speaking out in behalf of social progress and economic justice.
Best wishes for a successful convention.
JOHN F. KENNEDY