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Toasts of the President and President Lubke at a Luncheon at the Villa Hammerschmidt

June 24, 1963

Mr. President:

I want to express our appreciation to you for this luncheon, and I appreciate very much the main course. There may be some impression in the Federal Republic that the chicken has become our national emblem, but I want to make it clear that it is still the eagle! And we are glad to have had this opportunity to engage ourselves in this controversy over chickens in the last year because it is undoubtedly true that if it had not been for this it may have been something even more drastic and serious.

I also appreciate what the President said about the press advice I got about my trip. When I was growing up, I used to have the greatest admiration for Peter Zenger, who was the great German editor who criticized the Colonial Government in pre-Revolutionary America. His trial was a very famous event. Mr. Morris later, during the revolution, said it was a morning star of the revolution, it helped cause the revolution. I had the greatest sympathy for him in his attacks on the Colonial Government until recently.

In any case, I am confident that if I had canceled the trip, I would have been advised to have continued it. So I am delighted we came. I think that the relations between the Federal Republic and the United States are fundamental to both of our security. The Chancellor has traveled across our ocean many times, I think, to the profit of both of our countries, and therefore I feel privileged to come here. I want to pay great tribute also to the President, who carries on the tradition of his predecessor. He has traveled very widely throughout the world and in every country he has gone to he has improved the reputation, the prestige, the understanding of his country and countrymen in the farthest corners of the world, which has helped not only the Federal Republic but I think has served the common cause which all of us try to serve.

I am glad to be here also because everyone in this room has played a very significant part in what--as I said yesterday at the airport, and meant--was really the most astonishing miracle of modern times: the building of this free, democratic state whose reputation, as I have said, has steadily risen throughout the world. Every man here, I think, can feel the greatest satisfaction that he was connected with this great event in very crucial times. So that we who come from across the Atlantic feel we are in the company of friends and those with whom we are very proud to be associated in what I regard as the greatest opportunity that any people have had, which is to be the main defenders of freedom at a time of freedom's greatest danger.

So I hope you will join with me in drinking to the German people, to those who lead them, and most especially to our distinguished host, the President of the Federal Republic.

Note: The President proposed this toast at the luncheon given in his honor by President Lubke at p.m. Speaking before him, President Lubke began his remarks by explaining that the Villa Hammerschmidt, now serving as the West German Presidential residence, was small when compared to the White House in Washington.. Despite frequent suggestions that it be replaced by a new Presidential office-residence in Bonn, he continued, he had always refused because he felt that construction in Bonn would cause Berliners to think that they were "written off." "I feel," President Lubke said, "we will still live to see the day when the German Government and the Federal President will reside in Berlin again."

President Lubke then expressed satisfaction that President Kennedy had not allowed domestic misgivings to deter him from visiting the Federal Republic. "I am very happy that you came," he said. "You had an opportunity of establishing immediate and direct contact with Germany, with the German people," Opportunities for such direct contacts between peoples ought to be multiplied, he continued, "and this can be achieved only if as many Germans as possible go to the United States, and if as many Americans come over here to Germany as possible."

President Lubke concluded his remarks by assuring the President that the crowds which had turned out to greet him were a measure of the German people's respect for and trust in him. He then proposed a toast to President Kennedy.

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and President Lubke at a Luncheon at the Villa Hammerschmidt Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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