Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Candlelight Memorial Service for President Kennedy

December 22, 1963

Thirty days and a few hours ago, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, died a martyr's death. The world will not forget what he did here. He will live on in our hearts, which will be his shrine.

Throughout his life, he had malice toward none; he had charity for all. But a senseless act of mindless malice struck down this man of charity, and we shall never be the same.

One hundred years, thirty-three days, and several hours ago the 16th President of the United States made a few appropriate remarks at Gettysburg. The world has long remembered what he said there. He lives on in this memorial, which is his tabernacle.

As it was 100 years ago, so it is now. We have been bent in sorrow, but not in purpose. We buried Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy, but we did not bury their dreams or their visions.

They are our dreams and our visions today, for President Lincoln and John Kennedy moved toward those nobler dreams and those larger visions where the needs of the people dwell. Their fight for a better life for more people is their legacy to their countrymen. It is the coin by which their worth shall be counted. It is the gauge by which their memory shall be measured.

In this land and around the world, those whose hopes are meager plead for change. Those whose children are hungry or illiterate pray for sustenance and knowledge. Those whose dignity is blunted and whose liberties are scarce cry out for equality and decency and opportunity.

On this eve of Christmas, in this time of grief and unity, of sadness and continuity, let there be for all people in need the light of an era of new hope and a time of new resolve. Let the light shine and let this Christmas be our thanksgiving and our dedication.

May God bless this land and all who live in it.

So let us here on this Christmas night determine that John Kennedy did not live or die in vain, that this Nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward all men.

Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Candlelight Memorial Service for President Kennedy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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