addresses Congress following JFK's assassination
Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the House, Members of the Senate,
my fellow Americans:
I have I would have given gladly not to be standing here today.
greatest leader of our time has been struck down by the foulest deed
of our time. Today John Fitzgerald Kennedy lives on in the immortal
words and works that he left behind. He lives on in the mind and memories
of mankind. He lives on in the hearts of his countrymen.
words are sad enough to express our sense of loss. No words are strong
enough to express our determination to continue the forward thrust of
America that he began.
dream of conquering the vastness of space--the dream of partnership
across the Atlantic--and across the Pacific as well--the dream of a
Peace Corps in less developed nations--the dream of education for all
of our children--the dream of jobs for all who seek them and need them--the
dream of care for our elderly--the dream of an all-out attack on mental
illness--and above all, the dream of equal rights for all Americans,
whatever their race or color--these and other American dreams have been
vitalized by his drive and by his dedication.
now the ideas and the ideals which he so nobly represented must and
will be translated into effective action.
John Kennedy's leadership, this Nation has demonstrated that it has
the courage to seek peace, and it has the fortitude to risk war. We
have proved that we are a good and reliable friend to those who seek
peace and freedom. We have shown that we can also be a formidable foe
to those who reject the path of peace and those who seek to impose upon
us or our allies the yoke of tyranny.
Nation will keep its commitments from South Viet-Nam to West Berlin.
We will be unceasing in the search for peace; resourceful in our pursuit
of areas of agreement even with those with whom we differ; and generous
and loyal to those who join with us in common cause.
this age when there can be no losers in peace and no victors in war,
we must recognize the obligation to match national strength with national
restraint. We must be prepared at one and the same time for both the
confrontation of power and the limitation of power. We must be ready
to defend the national interest and to negotiate the common interest.
This is the path that we shall continue to pursue. Those who test our
courage will find it strong, and those who seek our friendship will
find it honorable. We will demonstrate anew that the strong can be just
in the use of strength; and the just can be strong in the defense of
let all know we will extend no special privilege and impose no persecution.
We will carry on the fight against poverty and misery, and disease and
ignorance, in other lands and in our own.
will serve all the Nation, not one section or one sector, or one group,
but all Americans. These are the United States--a united people with
a united purpose.
American unity does not depend upon unanimity. We have differences;
but now, as in the past, we can derive from those differences strength,
not weakness, wisdom, not despair. Both as a people and a government,
we can unite upon a program, a program which is wise and just, enlightened
32 years Capitol Hill has been my home. I have shared many moments of
pride with you, pride in the ability of the Congress of the United States
to act, to meet any crisis, to distill from our differences strong programs
of national action.
assassin's bullet has thrust upon me the awesome burden of the Presidency.
I am here today to say I need your help; I cannot bear this burden alone.
I need the help of all Americans, and all America. This Nation has experienced
a profound shock, and in this critical moment, it is our duty, yours
and mine, as the Government of the United States, to do away with uncertainty
and doubt and delay, and to show that we are capable of decisive action;
that from the brutal loss of our leader we will derive not weakness,
but strength; that we can and will act and act now.
this chamber of representative government, let all the world know and
none misunderstand that I rededicate this Government to the unswerving
support of the United Nations, to the honorable and determined execution
of our commitments to our allies, to the maintenance of military strength
second to none, to the defense of the strength and the stability of
the dollar, to the expansion of our foreign trade, to the reinforcement
of our programs of mutual assistance and cooperation in Asia and Africa,
and to our Alliance for Progress in this hemisphere.
the 20th day of January, in 1961, John F. Kennedy told his countrymen
that our national work would not be finished "in the first thousand
days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our
lifetime on this planet. But," he said, "let us begin."
in this moment of new resolve, I would say to all my fellow Americans,
let us continue.
is our challenge--not to hesitate, not to pause, not to turn about and
linger over this evil moment, but to continue on our course so that
we may fulfill the destiny that history has set for us. Our most immediate
tasks are here on this Hill.
no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President
Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights
bill for which he fought so long. We have talked long enough in this
country about equal rights. We have talked for one hundred years or
more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the
books of law.
second, no act of ours could more fittingly continue the work of President
Kennedy than the early passage of the tax bill for which he fought all
this long year. This is a bill designed to increase our national income
and Federal revenues, and to provide insurance against recession. That
bill, if passed without delay, means more security for those now working,
more jobs for those now without them, and more incentive for our economy.
short, this is no time for delay. It is a time for action--strong, forward-looking
action on the pending education bills to help bring the light of learning
to every home and hamlet in America--strong, forward-looking action
on youth employment opportunities; strong, forward-looking action on
the pending foreign aid bill, making clear that we are not forfeiting
our responsibilities to this hemisphere or to the world, nor erasing
Executive flexibility in the conduct of our foreign affairs--and strong,
prompt, and forward-looking action on the remaining appropriation bills.
this new spirit of action, the Congress can expect the full cooperation
and support of the executive branch. And in particular, I pledge that
the expenditures of your Government will be administered with the utmost
thrift and frugality. I will insist that the Government get a dollar's
value for a dollar spent. The Government will set an example of prudence
and economy. This does not mean that we will not meet our unfilled needs
or that we will not honor our commitments. We will do both.
one who has long served in both Houses of the Congress, I firmly believe
in the independence and the integrity of the legislative branch. And
I promise you that I shall always respect this. It is deep in the marrow
of my bones. With equal firmness, I believe in the capacity and I believe
in the ability of the Congress, despite the divisions of opinions which
characterize our Nation, to act--to act wisely, to act vigorously, to
act speedily when the need arises.
need is here. The need is now. I ask your help.
profoundly hope that the tragedy and the torment of these terrible days
will bind us together in new fellowship, making us one people in our
hour of sorrow. So let us here highly resolve that John Fitzgerald Kennedy
did not live--or die--in vain. And on this Thanksgiving eve, as we gather
together to ask the Lord's blessing, and give Him our thanks, let us
unite in those familiar and cherished words: