The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks in New Orleans at a Civic Reception.
May 4, 1962

Mayor Schiro, I want to thank you for your generous welcome--Governor Davis, Congressman Hebert, who serves this district with great credit in Washington, Congressman Boggs of this city who is your Majority Whip in the Congress, Ambassador Morrison who was your distinguished Mayor, your two Senators, Senator Ellender and Senator Long--and members of the Congress from this State--ladies and gentlemen:

I first of all want to express my thanks to all of you for making me an honorary citizen, and I am particularly glad because we have today so many students here--perhaps all of those who are either in school or college could hold up your hands?--well, all those who should be in school or college? I am particularly glad that you are here. I don't know whether you realize how much of what is happening in this country and the world is going to affect this city and State and is going to affect your lives.

The space age, which has been personified by Commander Shepard and Colonel Glenn, is going to have the most far-reaching consequences to all of you who live along the gulf. Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas are going to be the center of a great national effort which will, we believe, someday give us a leadership in space which will make the most profound differences to. this city and State and section.

And I want to emphasize how important it is that this city and State prepare itself for the great technological changes which are going to take place in all of our lives. We are going to need in the coming months and years, in order to maintain our position in the world, the best schools and the best colleges, and the best research centers and the best engineers, and the best scientists-and the best citizens that a free democracy can possibly produce.

Those who have these skills, those who are willing to apply themselves to developing their talents, will have the brightest future. This opportunity is being given to this section of the United States. Hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in the next decade will be spent on new industries, using new materials and new skills and new people in bringing all these talents to the Southern United States. This can mean more to this region of the country than any event which has happened in the last hundred years, and this city and State must be prepared to take advantage of it.

All of those of you who are now in school and college must realize that the brightest future lies before those who work, those who grapple with the future, those who recognize what changes are coming.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was to say, "I am a citizen of Rome." Today, I believe, in 1962 the proudest boast is to say, "I am a citizen of the United States." And it is not enough to merely say it; we must live it. Anyone can say it. But Americans who serve today in West Berlin--your sons and brothers--or in Viet-Nam, or in other sections of the world, or who work in laboratories, to give us leadership, those are the Americans who are bearing the great burden.

I recognize in this State and city, which is so much a part of our history, that the strength and vigor of the United States, and our spirit and character, still run strong.

I am proud, therefore, to become an honorary citizen of New Orleans, and I am proud, as President of the United States, to come to this city--which occupies such a vital part in our lives--and to ask you to join with all of us in moving this country forward in this decade.
Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks in New Orleans at a Civic Reception.", May 4, 1962. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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