Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Letter to Senate and House Committee Chairmen on Renaming the National Cultural Center in Honor of President Kennedy.

December 11, 1963

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I should like to take this opportunity to express my wholehearted support for the joint resolutions (SJR 136 or HJR 828) presently before the Congress to rename the National Cultural Center in honor of President Kennedy. It seems to me that a center for the performing arts on the beautiful site selected would be one of the most appropriate memorials that a grateful nation could establish to honor a man who had such deep and abiding convictions about the importance of cultural activities in our national life. In this connection it is my understanding that the Kennedy family would prefer to have the Center named "The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts" in order to indicate more specifically the nature of the memorial to him.

In a speech a month before his death, President Kennedy said, "I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist." He understood that history remembers national societies less for the might of their weapons or for the mass of their wealth, than for the quality of the artistic legacy they bequeath to mankind. By carrying forward the project of a National Cultural Center, we can all help strengthen the traditions and standards of the arts in American society. And in doing this we carry forward the spirit and concern of John F. Kennedy.

That the Federal Government should participate in this undertaking by providing funds to match the contributions which have already been made, and will be made in the future, by people throughout this Nation and the world is entirely fitting. This action should ensure prompt completion of the Center to which President Kennedy gave his full support and which he saw as an embodiment of our Nation's interest in the finest expressions of our cultural activity.

I hope that the Congress will take early action on this resolution.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Pat McNamara, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Works, and to the Honorable Charles A. Buckley, Chairman, House Committee on Public Works.

On January 23, 1964, the President approved a joint resolution providing for the renaming of the Cultural Center (S.J.. Res. 136, 78 Stat. 4). For his remarks upon signing the resolution, see Item 142.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to Senate and House Committee Chairmen on Renaming the National Cultural Center in Honor of President Kennedy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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