John F. Kennedy photo

Address by Telephone to the Convention of the American Veterans of World War II.

August 23, 1962

COMMANDER, I am most pleased to speak to you and to my fellow members of the Amvet organization on the occasion of your national convention in New York. Because of the times in which we live, my greetings today must inevitably include further demands on your patriotic efforts as veterans, for as you well know, we now face a world of new and difficult challenges in space, on earth, all around the globe, threats to peace, and therefore the demands on all of our citizens are correspondingly great. To meet the dangers of the world in which we live we are required to maintain a strong and versatile military force, one that can cover the broad spectrum of military operations. Because of this we are placing great emphasis, particularly in recent months, on developing our special forces, which are well suited to assist those governments in maintaining their position against the threats of guerrillas and insurgents. At the same time we've increased the strength of the Marine Corps and the number of combat-ready divisions in the Army from 11 to 16, and have begun reorganizing the Army to be more responsive to the many challenges we now face. In the Navy and the Air force we've also achieved a greater overall readiness and have increased the Minuteman and the Polaris to add to our deterrent strength.

We are, as you know, also making a concentrated and widespread effort in the field of space. These are but a few of the actions which we are taking and must take in the future to deter those who. do not wish us well, to maintain the peace, and to make it possible for freedom to survive in the world today.

I am sure that those of you who felt the impact of war can well recognize the urgent need for us to maintain this strength, which is essential not only to us, but to the rest of the world. The purpose, of course, of all this concentrated effort must be to maintain the peace. We arm, as Winston Churchill said a decade ago, to parley, to make it possible for us through diplomatic means to maintain the peace of the world, to maintain our security and those who are associated with us.

As we move through these difficult times, it's particularly gratifying to me, as it is to the other members of the Government, both in the executive and in the Congress, to know that we have your strong support in the vital tasks that are ahead of us as a country. I'm confident with your support, which you have demonstrated on many battlefields and many different parts of the world, that with your support we can meet the challenges that lie ahead. I'm equally confident with the courage and perseverance on the part of all of our citizens that the peace and our freedom can be sustained. In this endeavor we must not fail.

I wish all of you a most successful convention, and it's a pleasure to speak to you from the White House.

Note: The President spoke at noon from his office at the White House. His opening word "Commander" referred to Edwin P. Fifielski, Commander of American Veterans of World War II.

John F. Kennedy, Address by Telephone to the Convention of the American Veterans of World War II. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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