John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting a Presidential Citation of Merit to Mrs. Florence Harriman.

April 18, 1963

I WANT to welcome all of you here to the White House to this occasion, all the friends of Mrs. Harriman, members of her family, the Ambassador of Norway, General Gruenther, all those who have been associated with the same activities as Mrs. Harriman has been associated with in her very long and useful public life.

This certificate which is being given to Mrs. Harriman has no precedent and represents a bit of executive initiative which I hope will be duly noted. I think it is very safe in this case because the recipient is so distinguished and so generally honored. So, I take great pleasure in presenting this certificate, this Citation of Merit, to Mrs. Harriman. This is designed by Mrs. Kennedy, who drew it up and was interested in it and I know she is sorry she is not here today, but perhaps if I read it, it explains the high standard set for any future recipient.

"The President of the United States of America, awards this Citation of Merit to Florence Jaffray Hurst Harriman for distinguished service to the Nation. In her illustrious career in public service, Mrs. Harriman has made singular and lasting contributions to the cause of peace and freedom. She has served with distinction on the Federal Industrial Relations Commission, the Council of National Defense, and as Officer in Charge of the Red Cross Women's Motor Corps in France. As the American Minister to Norway during a most trying time, she served with great energy, skill, and dedication to the cause. In all of her endeavors, Mrs. Harriman has exemplified the spirit of selflessness, courage and service to the Nation, reflecting the highest credit on herself and on this country. She has, indeed, earned the esteem and admiration of her countrymen and the enduring gratitude of this Republic.

"Given under my Hand and the Seal of the United States of America at the City of Washington this eighteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three and the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-seventh."

So we take great pleasure in presenting this to Mrs. Harriman with the affectionate regard of all of us and all of her countrymen.

Note: The President made the presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Blue Room at the White House. Among those attending the ceremony were Paul Koht, the Norwegian Ambassador, and Gen. Alfred M. Gruenther, President of the American National Red Cross.

Mrs. Harriman was the first person to receive from the President his newly created Citation of Merit for Distinguished Service.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Presenting a Presidential Citation of Merit to Mrs. Florence Harriman. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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