John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks at the State Centennial Celebration in Charleston, West Virginia

June 20, 1963

Doctor, Governor Barron, Senator Jennings Randolph, Senator Bob Byrd, Congressmen Slack, Ken Hechler, Mrs. Kee, Harley Staggers, Bob McDonough, ladies and gentlemen:

The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do, and I am delighted to be here. In many other places this crowd would long ago have gone home, but this State was born in a period of difficulty and tension. 1863 was marked by three extraordinary events--the birth of this State, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Battle of Gettysburg.

This State was born to turmoil. It has known sunshine and rain in a hundred years, but I know of no State, and I know this State well, whose people feel more strongly, who have a greater sense of pride in themselves, in their State and in their country, than the people of West Virginia. And I am proud to be here today.

I am proud to come here today to join you in saluting the birth of this State. I am proud to join you in telling the United States what West Virginia stands for. And I am proud to join you with the same hope for the future of this State in 1963 that you must feel.

When I was here in 1960, West Virginia had all of the difficulties that had affected it for so many years. This State still has many problems, and so does this country, but where in 1960 West Virginia was at the bottom--50th in percentage of attention it received from the National Government-it is a fact that in 1963 it has moved up to 30th. This State has cut unemployment in half. There is still too much unemployment, but I believe that West Virginia and the United States have a bright future.

I would not be where I now am, I would not have some of the responsibilities which I now bear, if it had not been for the people of West Virginia. And therefore I am proud to come back here on this rainy day and salute this State and join you in committing West Virginia and the country to another 100 years of progress. I salute West Virginia and I join you, and I will carry on Saturday when I go to Europe the proud realization that not only mountaineers, but also Americans, are always free.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. from the steps of the Capitol in Charleston. His opening words referred to Dr. Paul A. Miller, president of West Virginia University; Governor William W. Barron; U.S. Senators Jennings Randolph and Robert C. Byrd; U.S. Representatives John M. Slack, Jr., Ken Hechler, Elizabeth Kee, and Harley O. Staggers; and Democratic State Chairman Robert P. McDonough--all of West Virginia.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the State Centennial Celebration in Charleston, West Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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