John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks in Tampa on the 50th Anniversary of Scheduled Air Service.

November 18, 1963

Mr. Chairman, Congressmen, Senator Smathers, members of the Florida congressional delegation, Mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg, ladies and gentlemen:

I am glad to come back to Tampa. Here in Tampa 3 years ago we talked for the first time about the Alliance for Progress, an effort by the people of the United States and the people of Latin America to provide freedom and progress for the people of this hemisphere. So I am proud to come back to this city which, in its own time, and particularly during the past 12 months, has borne a heavy burden in order to keep this country and the rest of Latin America free.

So I am proud to come back here to the people who understand what this struggle means. A good many people have made speeches about freedom in this hemisphere and about Cuba, but 3,000 men and women who worked in this city were put out of a job in order that we might carry out our policy towards Cuba more than a year ago. So this city understands what this struggle is all about, and I congratulate you for it.

And I am glad to come here to take part in the 50th anniversary of a flight from Tampa to St. Petersburg by Tony Jannus. That flight took 20 minutes. The plane finally went bankrupt after 4 months, and it was forgotten. But because of Tony Jannus, because of others like him, this country is number one in aviation, not only in this country, but around the world. And I hope in the 1960's that the United States of America will take the leadership again in space, in the air, and around the world, so that the United States will still be number one a hundred years after Tony Jannus' first flight. I understand in January they are building a duplicate of Tony Jannus' plane. The first passenger of that flight 50 years ago was the Mayor of St. Petersburg, and I am confident that the first passenger on this mock-up plane which they are putting together will once again be the Mayor of St. Petersburg. As a great Republican, I know he is going to step forward and commit himself to that kind of progress.

The fact of the matter is that in 1963 we are going to make a very important decision, to build a supersonic plane which in the 1970's will carry passengers at nearly Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, and we are also going to be making at Cape Canaveral and in other parts of the United States--we are going to be laying the groundwork which will permit people to fly at five times the speed of sound, and before the end of the century many more times than that.

What we are attempting to do in the United States in 1963, both at home and abroad, is relatively simple, and that is to maintain the peace, to maintain the vital interests of the United States, to maintain the economy of the United States moving ahead fast enough to absorb the millions of people who are coming into the labor market every year. I know as you sit here in this city and in Florida that you must sometimes wonder what our policies are. I think their execution is difficult. But what we are trying to do is simple.

First, we are trying to maintain the balance of power in the world on the side of freedom. We are trying to make it possible for those countries in Latin America, and in Africa, and in the Middle East, and in Southeast Asia--in fact, all around the globe, new countries, old countries, different religions, different colors--we are trying to enable them to maintain their freedom so that in this diverse world the balance of power will remain with us. This makes it complicated and difficult. This involves us in alliances with dozens of countries. It involves Americans in combat 10,000 miles away. It has taken a country like the United States, which lived 150 years of its history in isolation, and has made it for the last 20 years the keystone in the arch of freedom.

And I think Americans can take satisfaction in realizing that without the United States, without the effort of the 190 million people of this country, our effort not only day but ever since 1945, not only in this administration but in the two previous administrations, it is the United States, and on many occasions the United States alone, which has prevented this globe from being dominated by our enemies. If it was not for the assistance which we have rendered to millions of people, if it were not for the alliances which we have made in SEATO, our association with CENTO, our alliances in NATO, our alliances in the inter-American system, long ago this globe of ours would have seen the Communist advance sweep over much of what is now free. And it is free because the people of this country who lived so long in isolation have chosen to bear their share of the burden, and I believe we must continue to do so. And I believe we can do so because I believe the prospects for us today are bright.

It is the Communist world in the last few years that has suffered the major setbacks in China, in the Soviet Union itself, in Eastern Europe, even on the island of Cuba, which, while still Communist, has seen a steady deterioration of the standard of living under a system which originally tried to promise so much. And here at home what we are trying to do is all so simple, though its execution is difficult: that is to educate our children so that they are able to maintain themselves and their families and this free system, to find jobs for them when they have graduated from school or college, to make it possible for them to lead fruitful lives, and then in their older age to live in security.

In the next 2 1/2 years in the United States 10 million people will be looking for work. Where are they going to find jobs? They are certainly not going to find jobs if we in Washington and you in this city turn your backs on this great challenge. I believe in the partnership of these cities and the State of Florida and the other 49 States of the United States working together for the benefit of our people. I do not believe the Federal Government is an enemy. I believe it is the united will of all of our people protecting the security of the United States and providing an opportunity for our people. That is what we stand for. That is what we believe in.

And we are grateful, on this occasion, to men like Tony Jannus who took the long chance. In his case, finally it failed. But his work and the work of others like him here in this State and across the country have made this the great country it is. I hope in 1963 in Cape Canaveral, in Hawaii, in Alaska, in South Viet-Nam, in this hemisphere, and around the globe, other Americans will take the long chance and give leadership to our country and security to our people. That is what we stand for.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at Lopez Field at a celebration sponsored by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. In his opening words he referred to James H. Couey, Jr., president of the Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the meeting, Senator George A. Smathers of Florida, Mayor Nick Nuccio of Tampa, and Mayor Herman Goldner of St. Petersburg. Later in his remarks he referred to Capt. Tony lannus who made his flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa on January 1, 1914, and to A. C. Pheil, Mayor of St. Petersburg at that time.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks in Tampa on the 50th Anniversary of Scheduled Air Service. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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