John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks at the Dedication of a Marker To Identify the Grave of Ignace Jan Paderewski.

May 09, 1963

Secretary Rusk, Senator Williams, Members of the Congress, Mr. Rozmarek, Secretary Vance, ladies and gentlemen:

I am very much gratified to participate in this ceremony this morning. Some months ago I read in a newspaper an article by Mr. Hume which related how Paderewski was buried here in this cemetery and that there was no marker on his grave. Senator Williams had read a similar article a year before and had begun to take action in the Congress, with strong support from the Members of Congress who are here today.

I thought that the action by Senator Williams was most appropriate and, therefore, I was particularly anxious to come here today to join with all of you in marking the grave of a man whose distinguished service made his grave well marked, but who deserved to have his history and his country brought to the attention of those who come to this cemetery to honor our heroes.

It is no accident that men of genius in music like Paderewski or Chopin should also have been great patriots. You have to be a free man to be a great artist. What is remarkable is that he should have so combined two careers of genius, music and statesmanship, with such devotion to his country that he played an almost unique role in bringing to the attention of President Wilson the plight of Poland, enlisting President Wilson's help in securing a free Poland in the days following World War I, playing a role as Prime Minister in arguing the case of Poland at Versailles, and symbolizing, as he traveled through the world in the twenties and the thirties, the whole story, the long story, the extraordinary story of the Poles to maintain their freedom.

He came here when Poland was once more enslaved, and died, and was, by instructions of President Franklin Roosevelt, buried in this cemetery. The understanding was that when Poland would one day be free again he would be returned to his native country. That day has not yet come, but I believe in this land of the free that Paderewski rests easily. We are proud to have him here.

Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. at Paderewski's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. In his opening words he referred to Dean Rusk, Secretary of State; Harrison A. Williams, Jr., United States Senator from New Jersey; Charles Rozmarek, President of the Polish-American Congress of the Polish National Alliance; and Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of the Army. Later in his remarks he referred to Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the Dedication of a Marker To Identify the Grave of Ignace Jan Paderewski. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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