John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to the Faculty and Students of the French Institute of High Studies for National Defense.

March 25, 1963

Gentlemen, General Gambiez, Mr. Ambassador:

I want to express my very warm welcome to all of you to the United States. This ship that you see here was sent to me last week by M. Malraux. After his visit to us in January, when he was kind enough to accompany the Mona Lisa to the United States, and knowing of my interest in the sea, friends of the Naval Museum copied this ship, the La Flore, which was a French ship which fought for the Americans in our War of Independence. And this arrived in full sail and is in my office as a welcome reminder of our oldest alliance.

I want to express our very warm welcome to you and to tell you that all your colleagues in arms in the United States Forces will make you most welcome at all the bases you visit in the South, the Southwest, at the SAC base in Nebraska, California, and Texas. Wherever you go, I think you will find men who are committed to the advancement of knowledge in the dangerous field of arms and who also recognize the limitations as well as the possibilities of the use of force in these dangerous years.

I will say that it has proved, perhaps, somewhat more difficult to split the atom politically than it has been to split it scientifically. But even though we have not been wholly successful in accomplishing that task, I think that you will find that the people of the United States regard the French alliance as basic to our security, that we regard it as most essential in this country that France and the United States work closely together.

These are very difficult years. In some ways the military threat to Western Europe by the Soviets has diminished, but the Communist efforts around the world, Asia, Africa, Latin America, have not diminished and therefore it is my strong feeling that it is essential for the United States and France and for the others in the Atlantic Alliance to work closely together to coordinate not only our military policies, but also our political policies, economic and all the rest which contribute to our national security.

In addition, it seems to me, an obligation on the part of those who work in our military, and I am sure you recognize this obligation also, that soldiers not concern themselves today merely with the mastery of arms, but really with the mastery of the whole spectrum of action which makes for tranquility, security, and ultimately victory.

So we welcome you, coming as you do from a martial and distinguished race who have shown a mastery in the use of arms for a thousand years. We welcome you to this country as allies and as friends who stand with us shoulder to shoulder in the defense of freedom and the West in a climactic period.

Bon voyage, gentlemen.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke in the Flower Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Gen. Fernand Gambiez, Director, French Institute of High Studies for National Defense, and Herve Alphand, Ambassador to the United States from France, who spoke briefly prior to the President's remarks. The President later referred to Andre Malraux, French Minister of Cultural Affairs.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to the Faculty and Students of the French Institute of High Studies for National Defense. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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