John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome to a Group From Valdagno, Italy.

May 17, 1963

Count, Ambassador:

I want to express a very warm welcome to all of you. I appreciate very much what the Ambassador said. He is an experienced spokesman on the banquet circuit of Italian-American friendship, and I am delighted to hear his very generous statements about my country.

I am very grateful to you, Count, for this book, and I am very happy to welcome all of you here.

You follow a very ancient pilgrimage which began 400 or 500 years ago, which reached a flood at the end of the 19th century particularly in my own State of Massachusetts. So, as citizens of Italy, you are most welcome. As old friends, we are happy to have you. As those who come to us with a desire to see something of our society, we are very glad to welcome you.

America is a complicated country with tremendous problems as a society which has made itself one out of many, particularly in the last 65 years when a flood of immigrants came to this country--Italian, Irish, German, Scandinavian, French--and built a society which has very strong roots in Europe but which is in a sense unique.

I am particularly glad to welcome you because I am going to reverse your journey in the month of June and come to Italy. And I want to say that I am particularly happy to have you here even though you are great competitors of our woolen industry in America and even though as President of the United States I am constantly getting letters about it.

I think this extraordinary economic resurgence of Italy in the last 10 years carries with it the most valuable lessons for us. It is literally an economic miracle. It shows what old societies can do when they are reinvigorated and revitalized. And I want to assure you that even though the United States is, comparatively speaking, a young society we, like Italy today, look to the future, not the past, and we look to that future with hope. One of the reasons is because of our association with you.

So even though it may be raining and even though you may be huddled in this old corridor, I want you to know that you are among friends and that inside the sun is shining.

Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. on the porch outside his office at the White House. His opening words "Count, Ambassador" referred to Count Giannino Marzotto and Sergio Fenoaltea, Ambassador to the United States from Italy. The group, composed of 150 members of the Incontro Club of the Marzotto Corporation, was introduced by Ambassador Fenoaltea. Count Marzotto then spoke briefly, in Italian, and presented the President with a book, a collection of the works of art of the Marzotto family.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome to a Group From Valdagno, Italy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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