John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks at the Air Terminal in Fresno, California, After Inspecting Western Conservation Projects.

August 18, 1962

Governor Brown, Mr. Mayor, Congressman Bernie Sisk, Congressman Bizz Johnson, Senator Engle, Mr. Brody, ladies and gentlemen:

This is the end of our trip visiting some of the most important conservation centers in the United States, a trip which has been described as nonpolitical. I want to emphasize that it is nonpolitical because I have visited South Dakota, Colorado, and California, not a single State that I carried in 1960. So I'm out here completely to see the resources of the United States flourish and develop.

This rather brief trip has, I think, emphasized on me, and I hope on those who came with me, and I would hope on all Americans, the wonderful things that our country can do when it joins together in a community sense in order to build this country of ours. The prospects for this country, if we can recognize this, are unlimited.

[At this point a member of the reception committee placed drinking water before the President. ]

Now isn't that nice, to come to California and get that sort of service. You can't get water like this back East, you know. Thank you very much.

Let me just say in conclusion that I don't think there is really anything that we cannot do if we work together to do it. It took many years of very divided opinion in this State, between the north and the south, before California as a State committed itself to progress in the field of water. What is true of California in water is true of this country in many areas.

I see, as President, and with the Vice President we are the only elected officials of the United States who are elected by citizens in 50 States--Congressmen are elected from Districts, Senators from States--the most difficult task that we have is joining together, securing a consensus, securing a majority for action in all of the great fields of the unfinished business of this country. We too often find the East against the West; those who live in cities not really interested in the development of flood control or reclamation or irrigation; or those of you who live in the West uninterested in the great urban problems which disturb so much of our population; or those who live in the Southeast United States finding themselves in difficulty dealing with their agricultural problems compared to those in the richest valley in the world, the richest county in the world, right here at Fresno.

Now as long as we remain divided, with every group, with every interest, with every section, with every section of every State divided against itself, this country will stand still. It took years and years before western Colorado decided to make its full water available to eastern Colorado, before the northern part of this State decided to make its water available to the south. And what is true of Colorado and California is true of the rest of our States and true of our country.

So I leave this trip with a very strong impression, after seeing three extraordinary developments, of what this country can do, not only in the field of space, but in every field, the education of our children, the provision of jobs for our people, the security of our older citizens.

The great strength of this country is unlimited if this country makes up its mind that as a country it's going to move forward. Not the President, not the Senators, not the Congressmen, not the governors, not the commissioners, not the mayors, but 180 million Americans can advance this country into a bright future.

Thank you.

Note: The President's opening words referred to Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, Mayor Arthur L. Selland of Fresno, U.S. Representatives B. F. Sisk and Harold T. (Bizz) Johnson, U.S. Senator Clair Engle, all of California, and to Ralph M. Brody, Chairman, California Water Commission.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the Air Terminal in Fresno, California, After Inspecting Western Conservation Projects. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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