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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Roosevelt Field, Norristown, PA

October 29, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Governor Lawrence, the next Congressman from this district, Warren Ballard, ladies and gentlemen, Walter Frye, who is running for the assembly in this State - and we need good assemblymen, we need good State senators, we need good Congressmen, we need good U.S. Senators, and we need a President, [Applause.] And that is why I am here today.

I was informed when I started out this morning that we were going to travel in Delaware County which voted 8 to 1 for Alf Landon. We are going to wipe that record out. [Applause.] No county in the United States should have that reputation. [Laughter.] * * * [Inaudible.] * * * But this is the year for Delaware, Montgomery, Massachusetts, the United States, to choose progress, to move forward, and I come here today and ask your support. [Applause.]

No one can say with any certainty what is ever going to happen on election day. But I want to make it very clear that when election day is finished, or, rather, when it begins, I will be satisfied and hope I will be satisfied when it is over. But in any case, I believe that the Democratic Party and this campaign is on the side of right, is on the side of the best long-range interests of our country, stands for the things I hope in 1960 which are in accordance with the best judgment that we can render on the needs of our country. I don't know of any Democratic candidates - certainly this is true of our vice-presidential candidate or myself - that have gone to the people in the election of 1960 and talked anything but the truth as we understood it, and as we saw it and what represented the needs of our country.

Two thousand years ago when Athens was under attack from the Macedonians, Demosthenes in a great speech said, "Our trouble comes from those who wish to please us, rather than serve us." I hope after this campaign is over in 1960, whether it is successful or not, though I hope it is successful, but whether it is successful or not, I hope it will be recorded that the Democratic Party and its candidates in 1960 sought to serve the people, not please them. [Applause.] And my best judgment is that those who in 1960 seek to serve the people also please them, and I think that is the mistake Mr. Nixon has made. [Applause.] To go through the United States and talk, about our unparalleled prosperity as if there are no clouds on the horizon bigger than a man's hand, to talk about our position in the world as higher and stronger and greater than it has ever been in the past, to sound no alarm bell in the night, to express no urgency, to fail to warn that these are dangerous and hazardous days, full of opportunity and also of trouble, in my opinion misleads rather than misinforms, and no free people can possibly maintain their freedom unless they and those who seek positions of responsibility are willing to face the facts of life, the facts with the bark off, the truth, and the truth in 1960 calls for the American people to render an accurate judgment of their position of their country, their position in history, where they have been and where they are going. We face new problems, entirely different from those that have faced the Eisenhower administration or that of Harry Truman or Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson. Those names may be invoked by both parties. But as we move across the frontier of 1960 into the sixties, the problems which our country will face of economic growth, of development of our resources, of the development of outer space, of fresh water from salt water, of food from the ocean, of new uses for old minerals, of the undeveloped world and its economic development, of the peaceful use of the atom, the control of atomic weapons, the developments in the camps of our adversaries between the Russians and the Chinese, the development of countries of Africa newly independent, but without the resources to maintain their independence in the traditional sense - all those are entirely new problems, requiring new people, new solutions, new ideas, and requiring above all a sense of dedication to the cause of freedom.

I do not find in the speeches of my opponent any sound of commitment to this new future, any awareness that we live in the most revolutionary of all times, that here in this old section of Pennsylvania which was the scene of a great revolutionary struggle at the beginning of our country, we move through a period far more revolutionary, far more promising, far more dangerous. So I come not merely as a contestant with Mr. Nixon for a prize. I come representing a point of view which I hope the majority of our fellow citizens share, that in the great days of the 1960's, we as Americans individually and as a country must measure up to the responsibility which has been placed upon us by our own free choice and by the pressure of history, to be the chief defenders of freedom at a time when freedom is under attack all over the globe. I am confident that this country can meet its responsibilities. I see no peril, no burden that this country cannot sail through, unless we attempt to fool ourselves that these are easy, gentle, and prosperous times, without responsibility, without burden. We face an adversary who mobilizes all of the resources of the state for the service of the state. Young men and women in Moscow are studying esoteric dialectics of Africa and India, prepared to spend their lives in those countries as servants of international communism, prepared to work for the service of the state without regard to their own free choice. Young men and women in our universities pursue their own interest, if they should study language, occasionally French, some Spanish, and once in a while Russian. How many of those young men and women will be willing to spend their lives in far off lands in the service of freedom? The 1960's will require more from each of us than we have given in the past. But as for me, I am confident that this country will meet challenges. I am confident that we will continue to be the great defender of freedom, and I am more confident than ever that freedom will prevail. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Roosevelt Field, Norristown, PA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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