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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, the Alamo, San Antonio, TX

September 12, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mahon, my running mate and friend, Lyndon Johnson, Speaker Rayburn, my colleague in the Congress, Paul Kilday, Senator Gonzales, Sheriff Kilday, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a source of pride and satisfaction to me to come and speak before this distinguished American memorial. When the Texans died for Texan independence, there were not only native born Texans in the Alamo; there were not only citizens of Tennessee and North Carolina, but there was a citizen from Massachusetts, William Lynn, who came here to shed his blood with the other people in the Alamo. [Applause]. And it is a source of pride to me that my friend, Vivian Scribner, who served with me on a PT boat, who I have not seen since 1944, drove up the Rio Grande Valley 250 miles to be with us on this platform. [Applause.] And Bert Thompson, from your own city of San Antonio, I am delighted to be here today.

It is also a source of satisfaction to me that when my brother's plane was lost, his copilot was Lieutenant Willey from Fort Worth, Tex.

I come here today in a campaign for the office of the Presidency. I don't run for the office of the Presidency in this difficult and dangerous period saying that if I am going to be elected that life will be easy and the problems of Texas and the United States will be solved. Lyndon Johnson and I run for the office of President and Vice President recognizing that this is a difficult and trying time for us all, that it calls for the best in the American Republic, the best spirit, the best determination, the feeling that the future can belong to us, that the Republicans have been willing to stand still, but that we have the greatest possible confidence in the future of our country, in the future of the American people. [Applause.] If we are elected, we are going to build an American security and an American defense second to none. [Applause] If we are elected, every American, man or woman, who seeks to work will find it in a growing and expanding economy. [Applause.] And if we are elected, every American, regardless of his race or his creed or his color will be given his full constitutional rights. [Applause.]

We honor the independence of Texas today, but it is a fact that 150 years ago this week, Father Hidalgo in Mexico raised his famous plea, "Will you have freedom?" And the people of Mexico responded. They are responding today. They are responding today all over Latin America. Seven years ago there were 15 strong men in Latin America dominating the life of their countries. Today there are only five. Three years from now there won't be any. Latin America will be free. [Applause.]

But the fact of the matter is that while the people of Latin America upon whom our security depends, just as upon our freedom their security depends, have turned increasingly away from the good neighbor policy which once was a source of comfort and satisfaction both to the North and to the South. The United States failed to recognize under this administration the necessity of holding out a hand of friendship until Castro's actions forced us to do so. [Applause.]

Franklin Roosevelt held out the hand of friendship and the good neighbor policy not because he had to do it, but because he wanted to do it, because he thought it was the right policy for the United States and for Latin America. I don't want to see the United States do anything in Latin America at the point of Castro's pistol. I want us to do it because we believe in it. [Applause.]

Regardless of all problems we are going to move ahead. [Applause.] They are not going to be able, regardless of how many plugs are pulled or how many mikes, to stop us from moving ahead. [Laughter and applause.]

I mentioned Latin America because it is only one of the great areas of unfinished business for our country. I think the future is unlimited for us. But I think if we are going to move ahead, it requires the best from us all.

I ask your help in this campaign. Give Lyndon Johnson and us a great vote of confidence in the State of Texas. [Applause.] Texas, through Lyndon, and Speaker Rayburn, has led the Democratic Party into positions of responsibility in the last 6 years in the Congress. I think it is important that in addition to controlling the Congress, that the Democratic Party also speak with a strong voice in the administration. This is what we ask for. [Applause.]

The new frontier of which I speak does not consist of the things which we promise we will do for you. It consists of the things which you can do for your country, the opportunity for service, the opportunity to help this country realize its great potential, here and around the world. In the American Revolution, Thomas Paine said, "The cause of America is the cause of all mankind." I think in 1960, the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. [Applause.] If we succeed here, if we are strong in this country, if we are carrying out policies of assistance to our people, if we hold out the hand of friendship abroad, if we present an image of vitality and strength, then the people around the world will determine that the future belongs to freedom. But if we stand still, if we look back, if we mark time while the Communists move ahead, then people in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, will determine that the future belongs to the East and not to the West. This is an important election. In many ways it is more important than the election of 1932, for what was at stake in 1932 was the preservation of freedom here in the United States. What is at stake in the election of 1960 is the preservation of freedom all over the globe. It is to that great responsibility that we dedicate ourselves.

I ask you to join us in this great effort, and I can assure you that if we are successful, this country will begin to move again. Thank you. [Applause.)

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, the Alamo, San Antonio, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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