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Rear Platform Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Merced, CA

September 09, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Brown, my former colleague in the Navy, Senator Cobey, Congressman Bernie Sisk, with whom I serve in the Congress of the United States, Assemblyman Gordon Winton, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my appreciation to all of you for coming down in this valley sunshine and rain to say hello [Laughter.] We are campaigning in this State of California because I think this is the place where this election can be won in November. [Applause.]

This is the 110th anniversary of the admission of California into the U.S. Union. This State of California was founded and developed by those who lived in other sections of the United States, but were not satisfied with things as they were. The Democratic Party is not satisfied with things as they are now, not because we don't feel that this is a great country, but because we feel it can be a greater country. This is a great country. We can do better, and I ask your help in this campaign. [Applause.]

You cannot farm this valley without realizing that there are problems in this valley which can be solved by the united action of all our people, in developing the natural resources. You cannot be over 65 without realizing that there are many people over 65 who are faced with serious problems without any assistance under social security in paying for their medical bills. You cannot have children without realizing that in many parts of the United States they have inadequate classrooms with inadequate teachers, with inadequate compensation. This is a great country, but I think that we have to realize in the 1960's that it is going to be a difficult and dangerous time for us all. I think in many ways that the 1960's are going to be as difficult as any years we have had since the 1860's. I don't run for the office of the Presidency promising that if I am elected life is going to be easy. I don't think it is going to be easy in the 1960's. I think we face the most difficult and dangerous and trying times in the life of our country. It isn't enough to concern ourselves with what happens in this valley. The United States must also be concerned with what happens in Colombia and the Congo and Indonesia.

One hundred years ago, when this State was founded, the people who came here worried about their farms. Now we have to concern ourselves with the whole globe around us. The United States is the great defender of freedom. If we fail, the cause of freedom fails. If we succeed, the cause of freedom succeeds. I ask you to join me, not only in maintaining the vitality of this State and country, but also in joining in a great effort to protect freedom around the globe. In the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, "The cause of America is the cause of all mankind." I think in 1960 the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. [Applause.]

In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said, "There is a God and He hates injustice. I see a storm coming, but if He has a place and part for me, I am ready." There is a God today and He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. But I think He has a place and a part for all of us, and I think we are ready. [Applause.]

My wife is at home, and she is going to have a boy in November. [Laughter.] My sister, Pat, who lives in California, is campaigning with us, my sister, Pat Lawford. [Applause.]

I would like to have you meet a Senator from the State of Washington who is chairman of the National Democratic Committee, Senator "Scoop" Jackson. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Rear Platform Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Merced, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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