John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Leaving Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

October 26, 1963

General ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express our very strong appreciation to the crews who fly these planes from this very vital base, and also to the members of their families who participate in the military life of this country.

The United States has one million of its citizens serving outside of its borders, a record unprecedented in history, not for the purposes of aggression and conquest, but for the purposes of liberation. And there are dozens of countries now along the border of the Communist world which would long ago have been enslaved if it had not been for the planes which stand on this base and other bases, stretching around the globe, serving in SAC, ships which are far out of sight of land but which all contribute to the balance of forces on the side of freedom around the world. So we are very much indebted to you.

This is a very prosperous country living at peace. And I hope the citizens of this country realize that they owe a good deal of obligation, more than they could possibly pay, to those of you who serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. You may feel that your service may not be as significant on occasions as it might be in time of war. But your service now helps keep the peace, and helps keep our freedom. So I think you can feel the strongest sense of satisfaction. It is the United States and the people of this country who, since 1945, have prevented the Communist advance in all sections of the world--the United States, in many cases only the United States. And you gentlemen who fly these planes and serve them are the point of the spear.

Those of you who are in their families deserve our thanks, and I wanted to express my appreciation to all of you.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. before returning to Washington from his visit to Amherst College (see Items 439 and 440). His opening word "General" referred to Brig. Gen. Howard A. Davis, commander of the 57th Air Wing.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Leaving Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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