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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Upper Darby, PA

October 29, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Ladies and gentlemen, State senator-to-be Mr. Gore, I thank him for his generous introduction, and I also want to acknowledge with pleasure the presence on this platform of the next U.S. Congressman from this district, Henry Gouley. [Applause.] Governor Lawrence, Congressman Green, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your coming down. I think you are here for the same reason that I am here, and that is because we are engaged in the most sober function of a citizen of a free country, and that is the selection of a President of the United States. [Applause.] One of the principles which have guided Mr. Nixon or approaches which have guided Mr. Nixon in his approach to this campaign [comment from the audience]. I sympathize with that sentiment, but today [laughter] one of the matters which Mr. Nixon and I have disagreed on has been his feeling that we could separate domestic policy from international policy. He wrote a letter last May that he was a practicing conservative, but on another occasion he said he was a risktaker abroad. It does not seem to me that you can possibly separate what we do here at home from what we do abroad. In other words, if 35 percent of our brightest boys and girls who graduate from high school never finish college, or never get to college, that affects our position not only in the United States, but it affects our position around the world. If we are only using our steel capacity in the State of Pennsylvania and in the United States at 50 percent of capacity, that affects not only the unemployed steelworkers, it affects not only the small businessmen who live in the communities where steelworkers work, but it also affects our position all around the globe. If we are building 29 percent less homes this year than we built last year, if we are not practicing the principles that we preach in providing fair opportunity for all Americans, that affects us not only in this country, but it affects our position around the world. In other words, the influence, prestige, and purpose of the United States was never more strongly felt around the world than it was in the 1930's during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. [Applause.] There are Roosevelt parks and squares all over Latin America. I don't really think that there are very many that are a salute to the present administration, and yet during the thirties the good neighbor policy did not really mean very much as far as real policies which benefited the people, but they were impressed by President Roosevelt and they were impressed by the United States, because they had the sense of national purpose here in this country. Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America because he was a good neighbor in the United States. [Applause.] Woodrow Wilson was able to put forward his 14 points and have them fall with great impact in Europe because he had been identified during his term of office with the New Freedom, a progressive policy here in the United States.

The point is that if we are meeting our responsibilities, in this country, if we are educating our children--

Dick? [Laughter.] The voters are down here, not up there. [Laughter.]

If we are educating our children by giving them the best education we can, and it is a sober fact that 10 years ago we were turning out twice as many scientists and engineers as the Soviet Union, and now one-half as many - if we are going to educate our children, providing full use of the capacity of our plants and men and potential of our industries in the United States, providing medical care for the aged tied to social security, some kind of security to our older citizens, if we are providing opportunity for all citizens to advance their potential, then we are building a strong and vital society here at home, and then we speak with purpose around the world.

The strongest force of the United States throughout the world rests with a strong and growing and vital society here in the United States. In other words, you cannot separate progress here at home from progress abroad. We are as strong abroad, we counter the Communist advance as successfully as we build a vital and strong society here at home. And I do not believe, therefore, that it is possible for us to speak with power and vigor, that it is possible for us to rally the free people of the world wherever they may live unless we speak with purpose in the United States. [Applause.]

Our function and responsibility as the chief defenders of freedom is to build a strong and shining society here in the United States a society with purpose, a society with strength, and then hold out hope to all those hundreds of millions of people stretching around the globe who want to live their lives in freedom.

The most encouraging factor in the last 10 years has been one that has seen in country after country behind the Iron Curtain, in country after country in Africa, in country after country in Asia, the desire of people to be free.

Finally, in the final analysis, if we can maintain our strength, if we can last this long race of nerve and will, this test of our national determination, the final blow which will be struck to the Communist empire will be based on this desire of people to govern their own destiny. If there is any fact that has emerged from the stream of history, whether it is East Germany, Hungary, or Poland against the Communists? or the experience of Africa against Western colonialism, it is the desire of people to be independent. We know it from our history. Therefore, what we have to do is maintain our strength, to spread the umbrella of freedom around the globe. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The disease of liberty is catching", and ultimately it will catch around the globe. What we have to make sure is that during these years, when this disease is spreading, that we maintain our strength, that we offer it shelter, that we offer it encouragement, that we move this country and in moving our country, move the globe. Thank you. [Applause.]

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

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