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Remarks of Welcome at Union Station to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia

October 01, 1963

Ladies and gentlemen:

I know I speak on behalf of all of my fellow Americans in welcoming His Imperial Majesty back to the United States.

In welcoming His Majesty, we honor not only a distinguished leader of his country and a distinguished world figure, but we also welcome a man whose place in history is already assured. His memorable and distinctive appearance before the League of Nations in the mid-thirties which so stirred the conscience of the world was supported prior to that by action, and has been supported in its high hopes, by the consistent support which His Imperial Majesty has given to those efforts since the end of the Second War to associate free nations together in common enterprises, support to the effort in Korea, his support of the most recent effort in the Congo, the strong support he has given to the United Nations and, perhaps most celebrated of all, his leadership in building a community of free and independent states in Africa.

Since His Majesty visited the United States nearly a decade ago, we have seen one of the most extraordinary revolutions in history, and that has been the appearance on the world scene of 29 independent countries in the short space of less than 10 years including over 150 million people.

The conference recently held in His Majesty's capital served, I think, to bring together in a great, cooperative movement the people of most of these countries. And the success of that conference was due in no small part to the leadership of our distinguished guest.

Therefore, for what he has done in his own country, his efforts to move his country forward and provide a better life for its people and his efforts throughout the world, which stretch back over 30 or 40 years--for all of this, Your Majesty, we take the greatest pride in welcoming you here. You do us honor, and I can assure you that there is no guest that we will receive in this country that will give a greater sense of livelier pride and satisfaction to the American people than your presence here today.

Your Majesty, you are most welcome.

Note: The President spoke at noon on the platform at Union Station where Emperor Haile Selassie was given a formal welcome with full military honors. The Emperor responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Kennedy, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

I am deeply touched by the generous words of welcome which you have addressed to me, Mr. President, and by the warmth with which the American people have greeted me during the few short hours I have been in the United States.

More than ever, I realize that America, whose people assemble from the four corners of the earth in search of liberty and opportunity, is a second home for all of us.

Ten years ago, I visited the United States of America and made firsthand the acquaintance of this Nation and its people who have risen to a position of high preeminence in the modern world. Today I have returned to renew that acquaintance, to meet the leaders of America in 1963; to discuss with them problems of mutual concern, and to explore ways of strengthening and rendering more effective the ties of friendship and cooperation which have linked Ethiopia and the United States throughout the years.

In the decade which has elapsed since my first voyage to America, the face of the globe has been vastly altered. Africa and Asia have been transformed into continents whose people are almost entirely removed from the subjugated status which was the lot of so many of them but a few short years ago. As free men, we Africans are now seeking the unity and the oneness which will enable us to put our freedom to the best use--the service of the peoples of our continent, the defense of right and justice, the protection of the peace.

The concrete measures which have been taken in recent months stand as testimony of our determination to achieve these goals, in this endeavor as in our struggle to attain our independence, to have benefited from the example and support of the United States of America.

In this same decade, man's horizons have expanded almost incredibly. The mysteries of outer space are being increasingly revealed to us. The secrets of science are falling to the probings of modern mind. Man has acquired the awful power to destroy himself and all living things. Confronted by this common danger, all peace-loving peoples and nations must make a common cause with one another.

Our interest in safeguarding the peace is the same, for the same fate awaits us all should our efforts fail.

Similarly, the struggle which continues today to assure liberty and equality to all men without regard to race or creed touches and must concern all of us. The United States and Ethiopia have in the past never hesitated to make whatever sacrifices have been necessary to assure victory in this conflict, and we shall continue to do so in the future.

Mr. President, I look forward to the days ahead with pleasurable anticipation. I know that my visit to your country will result not only in forging of even more durable bonds with the United States and Ethiopia but will also serve the cause of peace and freedom.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome at Union Station to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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