John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Michigan State Fair, Detroit, MI

September 05, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Williams, Lieutenant Governor Swainson, Senator McNamara, distinguished State officials, ladies and gentlemen: It is a pleasure to have an opportunity at this State fair to address a nonpartisan audience [laughter]. Forty-eight hours ago I went to another fair in the city of Palmer in the State of Alaska. There I saw in that new city, surrounded by the Matanuska Valley, which 25 years ago was a desolate wilderness, and which is today one of the richest farm areas in the United States - I saw a cabbage which weighed 2 pounds. I saw a squash 2 feet long - at least they told me it was a squash. [Laughter.] It indicated in that deserted valley of just a few years ago what Americans can do. The whole State of Alaska, and the State of Michigan, and my own State of Massachusetts, indicates what America can do. [Applause.]

This fair tells the story of America. It shows our dependence on the farms. It shows our dependence on the cities. I preach the doctrine of interdependence of the American economy, because this country cannot be prosperous unless the farmers and the workers are prosperous together. [Applause.]

This is a great State, Michigan, but it can be a greater State. This is a great country, the United States, but it can be a greater country. All of us, regardless of our party, regardless of such section of the United States that we live in, want the same things for America. We want security for our families. We want peace in the world, and we want to see the cause of freedom strengthened. That is our obligation. That is the responsibility which we are willing to meet. I don't think that there is any American who is satisfied with things as they are. I think we recognize that there are unfinished tasks for our generation. I call upon all Americans to join in the great effort to rebuild our country and strengthen the cause of freedom. [Applause.]

In the year 1789, in the city of Hartford, Conn., the skies at noon turned from blue to gray and by midafternoon the city had darkened over so densely that in that religious age men fell on their knees, and begged a final blessing before the end came.

The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session, and many of the members clamored for immediate adjournment. The speaker of the house, one Colonel Davenport, came to his feet and he silenced the din with these words, "The day of judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought."

I hope in a difficult and dangerous time in the life of our country that all of us may bring candles to help illuminate our country's way.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Michigan State Fair, Detroit, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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