John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to Delegates Attending the World Youth Forum.

March 07, 1963

Boys and girls:

I want to express our very warm welcome to all of you. I understand that you have been selected from a competition within your own country to come and visit the United States. And I am sure that you have taught my fellow Americans a good deal more than you may have learned. In any case, we are delighted to have you and we appreciate your coming to examine this country which has passed through, in the last 170 years, a series of extraordinary adventures.

I know that you find what you might regard as an "American type," but you will realize that this country has been made by people from your own countries who came here within a short space of 200 years. We are a combination of all of the streams which have passed through all of the countries of the world, and the people who came here were, I think, among the most adventuresome. I think our task is to maintain that sense of vitality and vigor which helped build this country.

In addition, I hope you will examine our political structure, which is not perhaps the most efficient in the world. And indeed it was developed in a sense to be inefficient in order to protect the rights of the individual. Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the other systems that have been tried. It is among the most difficult.

We are glad that you are here to take a long look at us. I hope when you go back home that you will have some pleasant memories of the United States and will say on occasions a few kind words in our behalf.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. in the Flower Garden at the White House.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to Delegates Attending the World Youth Forum. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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