John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to Delegates to a Meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

October 18, 1963

Ladies and gentlemen:

I want to welcome you all to the White House and express my pleasure at having you visit a home which belongs to all of us, and also--I know something of your work because we've been involved very intimately, in the work that has been done in the White House, with Mr. Finley, who has played such a large part in your efforts, and who has played a very significant role in the work that has been done here at the White House, and now Mr. Gordon Gray, who is a public servant of a good many years.

What you are attempting to do and what interests me, of course, is trying to maintain and keep alive in this country a very lively sense of our past. I flew, the other day in Montana, over the graveyard of General Custer, who was slain 88 years ago. That shows what a young country we are, and yet with all that youth and with all that sense of motion and progress and looking to the future, we have a good many things in our country that are worth retaining. One of these, of course, the most important, the White House, and Mr. Vernon, the work you have done in Decatur House, the work you have done in places here in Virginia and along the Mississippi in other ways, making it possible for those who come now and perhaps can only catch American history through seeing and feeling it, giving them some sense of what a great procession this has been.

So we are glad to welcome you and to express appreciation to you on behalf of the country for your work in preserving these houses. I am sure you are sometimes reminded of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem about the--

"Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand. "Come see my shining palace. It is built upon the sand."

Your houses are not built on sand, but they need a good deal of work and we express our appreciation to you for doing it.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke on the South Lawn at the White House. In the course of his remarks he referred to David E. Finley, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Gordon Gray, present Chairman of the Board.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to Delegates to a Meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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