John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome to the President of Finland at Andrews Air Force Base

October 16, 1961

Mr. President, Mr. Minister:

I want to express on behalf of the people of the United States our great satisfaction at your visit here. As President of your country, I think you must realize that Finland and the Finnish people are identified in the minds of the people of the United States with those qualities of courage and fortitude and perseverance which have made the reputation of your country and people second to none here in the United States.

They are the qualities which we have found in those Finns who have come among us and raised their families, and it is a source of personal pleasure to us all that during your visit here you will, in Michigan, have a chance to visit one of those families who are related to you.

In addition, throughout the long history of the Finnish people, and especially today, we have come to recognize in the actions of her people her outlook on life, her determination to maintain her own freedom, her own integrity.

So, Mr. President, no visitor could be more welcome. We are delighted to have you here personally. Your last visit to the United States was when you led the Olympic Team from Finland to Los Angeles in 1932. Much has changed in this country since then, and much has changed in your own country. But I am confident that the same warm ties which were in existence then, many years ago in other days, are strengthened today.

Mr. President, though you have come from a far north country here to the United States to Washington, you have come to a country which is warm in its welcome to you and in our admiration for your people.

Note: President Kekkonen responded as follows: "Mr. President and Mrs. Kennedy:

"I wish to express my very sincere thanks for the friendly and warm welcome with which you have received me and my wife. The invitation you extended to us has been greatly appreciated in Finland as an expression of friendship toward the Finnish people.

"We have both very much looked forward to this visit to the United States, and to this opportunity of meeting you personally, Mr. President and Mrs. Kennedy. It is at the same time a great pleasure for us to be able to see your beautiful Capital and to visit also other parts of your great country and to meet with American people. Our attention will be directed especially to your powerful economy, your splendid scientific achievements and the progress you have made in the social sphere.

"This moment when I step on American soil gives me occasion to remember those hundreds of thousands of Finns who have settled in this country and who with their toil and labor have made themselves a place in the American community. They are a living bond between our two peoples.

"Mr. President, we Finns are keenly aware of the friendship of the people of the United States towards the people of Finland. I hope that my visit to the United States will further develop and strengthen the good and friendly relations which have always existed between our two countries."

In his opening words the President referred to Ahti Karjalainen, Finland's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome to the President of Finland at Andrews Air Force Base Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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