John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting an Award to Allen W. Dulles

November 28, 1961

Mr. Dulles, Mr. McCone, General Cabell, members of the Central Intelligence Agency:

I want, first of all, to express my appreciation to you all for the opportunity that this ceremony gives to tell you how grateful we are in the government and in the country for the services that the personnel of this Agency render to the country.

It is not always easy. Your successes are unheralded--your failures are trumpeted. I sometimes have that feeling myself. But I am sure you realize how important is your work, how essential it is--and how, in the long sweep of history, how significant your efforts will be judged.

So I do want to express my appreciation to you now, and I'm confident that in the future you will continue to merit the appreciation of our country, as you have in the past.

I'm also particularly grateful because this ceremony gives us all an opportunity to pay tribute to an outstanding public servant. Allen Dulles' career as a citizen of this country--and as one who has made his vast personal resources available to the country-stretches all the way back to the administration of President Woodrow Wilson. I know of no other American in the history of this country who has served in seven administrations of seven Presidents--varying from party to party, from point of view to point of view, from problem to problem, and yet at the end of each administration each President of the United States has paid tribute to his service--and also has counted Allen Dulles as their friend.

This is an extraordinary record, and I know that all of you who have worked with him understand why this record has been made. I regard Allen Dulles as an almost unique figure in our country. I know of no man who brings a greater sense of personal commitment to his work--who has less pride in office--than he has. And therefore I was most gratified when we were permitted today to come out to the Agency to present this award to him in your presence.

I'd like to read the citation.

"Allen Welsh Dulles is hereby awarded the National Security Medal.

"As principal intelligence adviser to the. President of the United States, Mr. Dulles has fulfilled the responsibilities of his office with unswerving purpose and high dedication. His ten years of service in the Central Intelligence Agency have been the climax of a lifetime of unprecedented and devoted public service beginning in the First World War, and stretching through the administrations of seven Presidents.

"The outstanding contributions Mr. Dulles has made to the security of the United States have been based upon a profound knowledge of the role of the intelligence office, a broad understanding of international relations, and a naturally keen judgment of men and affairs. The zestful energy and undaunted integrity of his service to his country will be an enduring example to the profession he has done so much to create."

Note: The President presented the National Security Medal to Mr. Dulles at the CIA Building in Langley, Va. in his opening words the President referred to John A. McCone, successor to Mr. Dulles, and Gen. C. P. Cabell, Deputy Director of CIA.

Mr. Dulles served as Director of CIA from February 23, 1953, to November 29, 1961. His letter of resignation was released by the White House on November 29.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Presenting an Award to Allen W. Dulles Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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