John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to the Staff of the U.S. Embassy in London.

June 05, 1961

AMBASSADOR, I want to express my thanks to you, and also to express my appreciation to those of you who are representing the United States here in this country.

I worked at the American Embassy--not too hard--but I worked here for a few months before the outbreak of World War II and therefore I know this square on which this new building is ranged as well as I do my own street at home.

I want to express how important I believe your responsibility is here in this great country. Our friendship with Great Britain goes back to our earliest beginnings. Our obligations to them for the beneficial influences that they have had in the development of our great political structure I think are known to every American.

But it is not merely sentiment and affection for past associations that makes your assignment so important now. This country, while no longer a far-ranging empire, is a great commonwealth composed of independent nations who are associated with this country. This country is an island which in the standards, physically, of the United States is not large. But nevertheless it has influence, it is persuasive throughout much of the world. The actions it has taken to assist the freedom of people after people around the globe have given it a special prestige. Its diplomats speak with a long tradition of over a thousand years behind them.

And therefore, when you work here in this country, you are working not only with a country of 47 or 50 million people, you are working with a country which, associated with us, believing in the same principles in which we believe, standing for the same things for which we stand, having demonstrated that it stands behind its convictions on many occasions, a people of courage and energy whose judgment is respected. All this makes your assignment especially important.

And it is because of that that I asked Ambassador Bruce, after his long experience, to accept this new responsibility.

There are some of you, I imagine, here who may be citizens of Great Britain, and I do want to express the hope that in working here in the United States Embassy for the United States Government, that you also feel that you are working for the very best interests of your own country.

So I express my thanks to you all, and tell you that having gone just about around the circle from Washington, that I am particularly glad to be in this country where the prospects are so pleasing.

Thank you.

Note: The President's opening words referred to David K. E. Bruce, American Ambassador to Great Britain.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to the Staff of the U.S. Embassy in London. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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