The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks at the Dedication of the Dulles International Airport, Chantlily, Virginia.
November 17, 1962

Mr. Halaby, General Eisenhower, Mr. Chief Justice, Mrs. Dulles, Mr. Dulles, Mrs. Saarinen, Mrs. Halaby, ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express my great pride and satisfaction in the contribution which has been made by a number of dedicated public and private citizens in constructing this great building. I want to express my great compliments to General Eisenhower and to General Quesada, not merely because they saw the necessity of Washington having a jet airport, and not merely because they determined on a most appropriate name, but also because they chose a design and an architect, and builders, which made this a distinguished ornament of a great country and a great governmental system.

This building, I think, symbolizes the aspirations of the United States in the 1950's and the 1960's, and I don't think it's at all incongruous that we should be at the same time devoting ourselves to the preserving of Lafayette Park and all of the old buildings of that park, and all of the old views which other Presidents a hundred years ago saw, and at the same time taking the greatest pride and satisfaction in this new building.

We believe in the past and in the future, and I think this building symbolizes that great future, as Lafayette Park symbolizes that brilliant past. So I compliment them and I compliment General Quesada, who seems to enjoy a life of controversy in his new occupation, as he did in his past occupation, but at least he is living vitally, and that counts for a good deal these days.

I also want to say how appropriate it is that this should be named after Secretary Dulles. He was a member of an extraordinary family: his brother, Allen Dulles, who served in a great many administrations, stretching back, I believe, to President Hoover, all the way to this one; John Foster Dulles, who at the age of 19 was, rather strangely, the Secretary to the Chinese Delegation to The Hague, and who served nearly every Presidential administration from that time forward to his death in 1959; their uncle, who was Secretary of State, Mr. Lansing; their grandfather, who was Secretary of State, Mr. Foster.

I know of few families and certainly few contemporaries who rendered more distinguished and dedicated service to their country.

Therefore, I think that all of them can feel in the name Dulles Airport a sense of participation. We believe in that kind of public service, and I hope that the fact of the naming will encourage it in the future.

Most of all, I want to commend those who'll be working here, those who fly our planes, those who man those planes, those members of the Immigration Service who will be the first Americans that visitors will see here in the United States. And I hope it will be possible, building on what has been done here at Dulles Airport, that we will make sure that all of our airports and all of our piers at the seas, and all of the people who work on them, show a face of America to the world which is our best face.

I hope that those who are here, those in New York, those in San Francisco, those in every port, whether it's on the ocean or whether it's from the air, will realize that the people who come here make a judgment about our country, that they are people who carry with them an impression of our country, and we want it to be the best. So we have the greatest hopes for them, and we congratulate them on their service in the past and in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great airport at a great time in the life of our country. I commend all those who've been a part of it, and, most of all, I congratulate the citizens of America who in their joint capacity as citizens of the greatest free country have made this airport possible. Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks at the Dedication of the Dulles International Airport, Chantlily, Virginia.", November 17, 1962. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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