John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to Participants in the West Virginia Centennial Celebration.

May 20, 1963

Governor, Senators, Congressmen:

I want to express my warm appreciation to you for this flag which--I don't know whether it is regulations or not, but in any case it is going to be, because we will certainly fly this flag over the White House on the June centennial day or any other day that West Virginia wants it flown. And after that we will frame this flag and put it in the White House in my office, because there is no State whose flag I would rather have.

I want to express my great appreciation to all of you--those of you who are Scouts for coming here this morning. We are very proud of the Boy Scouts and I am particularly glad that we have so many of them in West Virginia, so many of them in the country. I can't imagine better training for our younger citizens and I hope that this impressive evidence this morning of their strong patriotic feeling will be an inspiration to thousands of other young boys who, themselves, can become Scouts and demonstrate their desire for citizenship and also their strong love of their country.

But most especially I am glad to welcome you here because this is part of a very important historic event, the centennial of West Virginia. The State motto of West Virginia is that mountaineers are always free. West Virginia was born out of a desire of people to be free and there is no State in the Union which, in the wars of this country, has given a larger percentage of their sons to the defense of their country, suffered a larger number of casualties and in a hundred battlefields scattered around this world has demonstrated that mountaineers will continue to be free.

This is a great State which I know very well from top to bottom, from east to west, and it has some of our most devoted citizens in it. And, therefore, I was particularly glad to have a chance to welcome all of you here this morning. We welcome you on very historic ground here at the White House. This house behind you is identified with the great moments in American history. And one of the greatest moments in American history was the birth of West Virginia in an entirely different world, but a world which still carries with it the imprint of the struggles which brought freedom to West Virginia.

West Virginia is free, the United States is free, and that freedom is maintained by the desires of the people of your State and country and by your willingness to meet all these challenges. So we are glad to have you Governor, Senators, Congressmen, and, most especially, citizens of West Virginia who are among the best citizens of the United States. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the Flower Garden at the White House. His opening word "Governor" referred to William W. Barron, Governor of West Virginia, who presented him a West Virginia State flag.

After his remarks the President reviewed the "West Virginia Centennial Parade of Flags," a group of Senior Boy Scouts and high school students formed for the purpose of representing the State in various ways during its centennial year.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to Participants in the West Virginia Centennial Celebration. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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