John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to a Group From the Military Schools of Brazil.

August 27, 1963

Ambassador, Admiral, General:

I want to express a very warm welcome to all of you who have come from Brazil and do us the honor of visiting us.

The Military School in Brazil enjoys a unique reputation well beyond the boundaries of your country. And we are delighted also to welcome those who are engineers who traditionally, in the American military, have been the top students at West Point and who, I am sure, make it possible for all of us in peacetime as well as in war to move across the terrain with some ease.

It is always a question what a military man does in peacetime. Well, I can tell you, what they do in peacetime is maintain the peace, and I think that that in some ways or, in fact, most ways is a more valuable function than winning the wars.

My own feeling is that the military strength of the United States and the willingness of devoted Americans to serve this country all around the globe has played a major role in maintaining the rather uneasy peace of the last 18 years.

So, it is true in your own country, in Brazil. It is not always easy to be a soldier or sailor in peacetime, but I think that you can have the strong sense of personal satisfaction that you are speaking for the national sovereignty of Brazil; that you are defending the traditions and the independence of Brazil; that you make it possible for Brazil to speak in the council of nations with force and vigor; and that serving the state, as all of us seek to do, can be done in uniform out of the sound of guns.

I am glad to have you here also because you are the bearers of a very distinguished military tradition. Brazil played an important role in World War II. Its willingness to do so has been remembered here in the United States. We live at peace. In fact, we live in a world which is neither at peace nor at war in many ways.

My own feeling is that it is vitally important to Brazil and the United States-Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the United States is a country which carries many responsibilities--that we should move in the closest harmony and the closest partnership. It is easy to divide people. It is easy to divide countries. But I think that when we look at the world around us and what is at issue today, and what we stand for and what you stand for, I think it is important that we work together. And I admire those who seek to strengthen that cooperation, and I think that your coming here today is an evidence of your good will toward us. We appreciate it.

I wish you a very pleasant visit here and I thank you for coming.

Thank you, gentlemen. Much success.

Note: The President spoke at noon in the Flower Garden at the White House to some 80 students and professors from the National War College and the Military Institute of Engineering, both of Brazil, who had been in the United States since August 17 as official guests of the Secretary of Defense. In his introductory remarks he referred to Roberto de Oliveira Campos, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States; Adm. Luis Teixeira Martini, President of the War College; and Maj. Gen, Chester V. Clifton, Military Aide to President Kennedy.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to a Group From the Military Schools of Brazil. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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