|The American Presidency Project|
|• John F. Kennedy|
|Excerpts from the Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Bergen Mall, Paramus, NJ - (Advance Release Text)|
|September 15, 1960|
What unites us all, in every section of the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, is concern over our Nation's position in the world. I am not talking about world politics. I am talking about peace - our future - and our children's future.
Everywhere I go in this campaign, I find people asking: What's the matter with America? Why are we slipping, why are we losing friends around the world? Why are we losing the lead to Russia? Why aren't we meeting the Communist challenge - from Cuba to the Congo, from India to Indonesia?
Four years ago the cold war was being carried on thousands of miles away. This year it spread to within 90 miles of Florida to Cuba. And next week when Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Castro arrive in New York they will bring the cold war to within 12 miles of the Bergen Mall.
And yet the administration has told us that all is well.
In the 1930's, while England slept, Hitler armed.
Today, while we stand still, Khrushchev moves.
We must learn to face the truth about our situation. You can't stand still in a hurricane. And hurricane winds of change are sweeping the world.
It is tempting to try to hide in the storm shelter - or the bomb shelter - tempting to try to escape the winds of change. But it cannot be done. We have to act - and to act along new lines. Francis Bacon tells us, "He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator."
How can we reverse direction? How can we move ahead?
First, we must set our own house in order. A nation that intends to lead the world must live a creative national life at home. We must reestablish and extend the rights of man - the right of workingmen and businessmen to earn a decent living; the right of children to a decent education in the American tradition; the right of older people to an old age free of the cost of chronic ill health; the right of immigrants to enter our land; the right of all of us to think as we please, whether to schools or jobs or lunch counters.
Second, we must stop deluding ourselves about our situation abroad. The collapse of the summit, the fiasco in Japan, the hostile mobs around the world - these are not diplomatic triumphs for America, they are diplomatic disasters, and we may as well face the unpleasant unpopular truth. For as Demosthenes said, "if you analyze it correctly, you will conclude that our critical situation is chiefly due to men who try to please the citizens rather than to tell them what they need to hear." I think the American people want to hear the truth.
Third, we must rebuild our defenses on land and sea, in air and space. The Russians understand strength. It is not a question of quarreling with Mr. Khrushchev. It is a question of making ourselves stronger than Russia. Talk is cheap.
Fourth, we must help the rising peoples in the underdeveloped regions of the world to find their way to free self-government. We must range ourselves on the side of freedom, not on the side of dictatorship. And we must remind the rising peoples - and remind ourselves - that it was not Karl Marx's manifesto but the American Declaration of Independence which said:
We hold these truths to be self-evident - that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.Fifth, on a broad front ranging around the world we must seize the initiative in the cold war with bold imaginative programs launched with good will and launched from strength. We need to launch missiles, yes; but we also need to launch programs for freedom and justice and peace.
When Woodrow Wilson was pleading the cause of the League of Nations in 1920, he said, "my clients are the children; my clients are the next generation."
It is for our children, for peace in our children's world, that I plead in this campaign.
It is up to us to win it.
|Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Excerpts from the Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Bergen Mall, Paramus, NJ - (Advance Release Text)", September 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74033.|
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