The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks at the New York Birthday Salute to the President.
May 23, 1963

Mr. Mayor, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Krim, Mr. Samuels, Mr. Bailey, ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express my very great appreciation to all of you. Actually, in spite of what we read in the paper, this dinner is for nothing. It is the thousand dollars that goes to belong to one of the most exclusive clubs in America, and then this is one of the privileges that we all enjoy.

I want to particularly express my thanks to all those who are helping us so much tonight.

I sang once with Mitch in the Madison Square Garden, and I think this tie between the artistic world, represented by all the people here tonight, led by Alan Lerner, really goes back to the beginnings of our party, particularly to Thomas Jefferson who wrote a letter, which I have in the White House, to a friend in Italy in which he asked that the three gardeners who were coming over to work at Monticello be able to sing and play in a musical symphony that he was then arranging.

I think it is because the two political parties in our history have always been divided, as Emerson said, into the party of hope and into the party of memory. From the time of Jefferson, I think we have been the party of hope. And therefore it is natural that artists, men and women who work in the theater and all the other related arts, should find themselves most at home in the party of hope.

Up the way in this corridor tonight, the steel industry is presenting to my distinguished predecessor its annual award, to President Eisenhower, as the man who has done most for the steel industry this year.

Last year I won the award and they came to Washington to present it to me, but the Secret Service just wouldn't let them in!

In any case, ladies and gentlemen, all of us are in your debt. On behalf of the Vice President, Governor Stevenson, and all of us, I think that while we are all obligated to you, I think all of us share the same sense of pride in being part of the oldest political party on earth and yet still the youngest.
Thank you.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks at the New York Birthday Salute to the President.", May 23, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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