John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to a Group of Young Democrats.

April 26, 1963

ALLAN, I want to welcome you all to the White House. As Democrats, you should feel very much at home here, because this house has been occupied by some of our most distinguished Democrats beginning with Thomas Jefferson and ending with Harry Truman.

The trees just behind you were planted by Andrew Jackson, one of our distinguished leaders of our party. And I am particularly glad to have you here as Young Democrats and as members of the oldest political party on earth. I think that in the last month, as in really the years of our history, we have had a very clear picture of why it is necessary that the Democratic Party should continue to play a major role in the United States; in our efforts just this week on water; on assistance for medical schools, on loans for young men to go to medical school, nurses; in our assistance for the farmers in the feed grain program; the mass transit bill; two weeks ago, youth employment.

All these bills passed through one body or the other over almost unanimous opposition of the opposition party. All of them attempting to serve and build upon the records which have been made in the thirties and the forties by President Truman and by President Roosevelt. All of them, programs which are fitted to the needs of this country in the 1960's.

I think that the purpose of any political party is to serve a great cause and I think the cause in the 1960's is to see if domestically we can develop and manage our economic society so that we do not move from recession to recession with continuing and ever-increasing unemployment, with millions of young people coming into the labor market, with millions of others trying to go to our colleges, with millions still unemployed. With a history of recessions in '58 and '60, all these make the development of an effective national economy which offers an opportunity for all of our citizens on a basis of equality--makes that one of our most difficult and pressing challenges in the 1960's.

A strong America here at home is the basis for a strong America abroad. And I believe that with a great effort here combined with the efforts we are making in the field of national security--building our defenses, strengthening ourselves in space, paying attention to an area which has been long ignored through the Alliance for Progress in Latin America, strengthening our ties in other parts of the world--we can look to the future with a good deal of hope.

Now all this can be done and must be done under our system by a party which has responsibility. We have the responsibility now in the Executive, in the House, and in the Senate and I am asking your help not only in mobilizing the people of this country to comprehend what our program means, but also to make it possible for those Democrats who believe in progress--and most of them do or they wouldn't be Democrats-that you will do your part to assist them in 1964 to get our citizens registered, to get them out to vote, to make them understand that this is an important election and it does go to their welfare.

So we are glad to have you here. I particularly appreciate the fact of your taking an interest in this so-called off year, because from my own experience it is in the off years that the seeds are planted which bring victory in the on years. So we are glad to have you and particularly to welcome you to this garden which, like so many other things around Washington, is new and growing and blossoming. We are glad to see you.

Note: The President spoke at 4:30 p.m. in the Flower Garden at the White House. The group, composed of delegates of the National Committee of the Young Democratic Clubs of America, was presented to the President by Allan T. Howe, president of the Committee.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to a Group of Young Democrats. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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