John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Presenting the President's Awards for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service

August 07, 1962

To: J. Stanley Baughman, President, federal National Mortgage Association, Housing and Home finance Agency.

JOHN W. MACY, JR. (Chairman, U.S. Civil Service Commission, and Executive Secretary, Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board): Mr. President, Mr. Baughman has with extraordinary effectiveness established and economically managed the world's largest mortgage banking facility, merging harmoniously the interests of the general public, private investors, and the Government. His achievements have had a widespread and profoundly favorable effect on private financing of homes and upon millions of home owners who have benefited from the programs he has directed.

THE PRESIDENT. The home is the basis of our society, and it has been through the happy cooperation of the National Government, private enterprise and, of course, the citizens of our country who desire to own their own homes that we've had this extraordinary gain in private ownership, particularly since the end of World War II, which I think ornaments our society. So I want to congratulate you who, as the Commissioner said, runs this largest facility in the country, and you have done it in a way which reflects credit on the Government and on the country and on our system. Congratulations.

It's time we honored bankers around here!

To: Robert R. Gilruth, Director, Manned Spacecraft Center, National .Aeronautics and Space Administration, Houston, Tex.

THE PRESIDENT. Colonel Glenn and Commander Shepard, as objects of his experiments, won't you come up here?

MR. MACY: Mr. President, Mr. Gilruth, as Director of Project Mercury, has successfully carried out one of the most complex tasks ever presented to men in this country--the achievement of manned flight in orbit around the earth. His inspiring leadership, his vast and authoritative knowledge and his ability to encourage his associates to their highest capabilities have been of incalculable benefit to the Government and to the people of the United States.

THE PRESIDENT. This gives me the greatest pleasure, and I know it gives Colonel Glenn and Commander Shepard pleasure to see Mr. Gilruth honored appropriately by the Government and by the country. His management of this very sophisticated and sensitive program involves a great national commitment and also the lives of some of our best citizens. All this has been under his management, and the fact that it's been done with such distinction, I know, heartens him and encourages all of us. And also it has been of the greatest possible benefit to our country and around the world, so we congratulate you, Mr. Gilruth.

To: Dr. Donald E. Gregg, Chief of the Department of Cardiorespiratory Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

MR. MACY: Dr. Gregg, through the development of new instruments and new research methods of measuring blood flow, blood pressure, and coronary output has made major contributions to medical knowledge of heart disease and thereby to the welfare of humanity. His innovations and research have opened new fields in the study of blood circulation and cardiovascular diseases and have earned him recognition as one of the world's foremost physiologists.

THE PRESIDENT. It's a great pleasure, Doctor, to present this to you in your work which indicates the harmony which exists between medical research and the National Government in the best sense. And also because so many of our families are affected one way or another by this dread disease, we take particular pleasure in commending you and congratulating the country.

To: Dr. Frances O. Kelsey, Medical Officer, food and Drug Administration, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

MR. MACY: Dr. Kelsey, her exceptional judgment in evaluating a new drug for safety for human use, has prevented a major tragedy of birth deformities in the United States. Through high ability and steadfast confidence in her professional decision, she made an outstanding contribution to the protection of the health of the American people.

THE PRESIDENT. I know that we are all most indebted to Dr. Kelsey. The relationship and the hopes that all of us have for our children, I think, indicate to Dr. Kelsey, I am sure, how important her work is and those who labor with her to protect our families. So, Doctor, I know you know how much the country appreciates what you have done.

To: Waldo K. Lyon, Head of the Submarine and Arctic Research Branch, Navy Electronics Laboratory, San Diego, Calif. [Presented to Mrs. Lyon in her husband's absence. ]

MR. MACY: Mr. Lyon has been singularly responsible for the pioneering development of the knowledge, techniques, and instruments that made it possible for a submarine to navigate under the icecap in the Arctic. In the face of formidable obstacles, he persevered in believing that trans-Arctic submarine navigation could become a reality and directed his efforts toward this objective. His achievement represents a highly important contribution to the Nation's security.

THE PRESIDENT. It's a great pleasure to present this. Those of us who have difficulty navigating at sea on the surface are astonished that through the dedicated efforts of your husband and others in the service they're able to navigate with precision under ice. And he's now again away on a mission for the Navy which is confidential. At least he is not suffering from the heat!

To: Llewellyn E. Thompson, ]r., Career Ambassador.

MR. MACY: Ambassador Thompson, as Career Ambassador in posts of the highest importance, most recently as Ambassador in Moscow, has brilliantly furthered our country's foreign policy objectives during a period of international tension. His outstanding representation of the United States interests in foreign affairs, including the resolution of the Trieste problem and successful negotiation of the Austrian State Treaty, has been marked by exceptional leadership, judgment, and diplomatic skill.

THE PRESIDENT. it's a great pleasure for me to present this award to Ambassador Thompson. I think the recitation of the very crucial negotiations in which he's been engaged which have emerged successful--the one on Trieste, the Austrian Peace Treaty where he was involved in more than, I think, 500 meetings, the negotiations which have recently taken place in Laos, negotiations which have recently taken place in regard to problems between the Dutch and the Indonesians--all this--the conversations which we've been having with the Soviet Union-all this indicates that those who believe that there is no useful place for diplomacy or negotiation are wrong. There is. It is these very arduous and persevering meetings in which Ambassador Thompson has been one of our most successful which has helped maintain the peace for a good many years and will, I hope, in the future.

Ambassador Thompson has had an extraordinary record. As the citation says, he has spoken with the utmost clarity and precision in the interests of the United States, and yet he has been an extremely highly regarded figure in the Soviet Union. He has shown, as I said in my inaugural address, that servility is not a sign of weakness. And I want to say what a great source of strength and satisfaction it is that Ambassador Thompson will continue as an intimate adviser to the Secretary of State and myself in the coming days.

So, Ambassador, we honor you and all those with whom you work.

I want to just express my appreciation to all those who took part in this ceremony-the gentlemen who were on it and also the leaders of their departments, and also the Members of the Congress who have been particularly interested in the development of an effective Civil Service in the best sense of the word for the United States Government.

When one of our employees in the National Government does not meet the high standards which we set for ourselves, it becomes, of course, the greatest news. I hope that it will be equal news, the story of the accomplishments of these ladies and gentlemen. We have so many devoted civil servants, so many public servants working for this Government helping and benefiting the lives not only of the people of this country but all around the world, that we have really just in a sense symbolically honored them by honoring these ladies and gentlemen. There are hundreds and thousands behind them. So I hope that this ceremony today will call the attention of the people of our country to a very extraordinary group of men and women who are working in their behalf.

So we congratulate you all, we thank you, and we hope that your work will serve as a horizon-marking effort by all those who work for the people of the United States.

Note: The President spoke on the South Lawn at the White House. James E. Webb, Chairman of the Awards Board, spoke briefly at the beginning of the ceremony and introduced Mr. Macy, who presented the officials. Mr. Baughman was accompanied by Robert C. Weaver, Administrator of the Housing and Home finance Agency; Dr. Gregg, by Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of the Army; and Dr. Kelsey, by Anthony I. Celebrezze, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Mrs. Lyon, who accepted the award in her husband's absence, was accompanied by Fred Korth, Secretary of the Navy. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, accompanied Ambassador Thompson.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Presenting the President's Awards for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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