John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting the National Medal of Science to Theodore von Karman

February 18, 1963


Dr. von Karman, it is a great pleasure for me to select you as the first recipient of the National Medal of Science. I know of no one else who more completely represents all of the areas with which this award is appropriately concerned--science, engineering, and education.

This Nation, and indeed the entire free world, holds you in the highest esteem and respect for your devoted service, for your scientific achievements, and for your warmly human gifts as a teacher and counselor. Your assistance to the United States Air Force and to the NATO Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development have been outstanding. We also are deeply indebted to you for your continuing efforts in the promotion of international cooperation in science and in engineering.

It is hard to visualize what the world would be like without aircraft and jet propulsion, or without the vision we have, just entering the realm of reality, of exploring space. I am especially glad to present this first National Medal of Science to one of the pioneers who has helped make all of this new and exciting age possible.

The citation says: "The National Medal of Science is awarded by the President of the United States to Theodore von Karman for his leadership in the science and engineering basic to aeronautics, for distinguished counsel to the Armed Services and for promoting international cooperation in science and engineering."

Note: The President spoke at noon before an invited audience in the Flower Garden at the White House. The text of Dr. von Karman's response was also released.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Presenting the National Medal of Science to Theodore von Karman Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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