Tags: Presidential History | john kennedy wartime | highlights | quotes | speech

John Kennedy Wartime Address Highlights: 7 Quotes From Speech

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 10:28 AM

John F. Kennedy saw the Cold War get hotter on his watch, and although U.S. soldiers didn’t meet the enemy on the battlefield for a traditional wartime fight, it was still war. From Berlin to Cuba, the president backed up his desire for peace with hard-line talk.

Here are seven highlights from his addresses on war:

1. Vietnam was on Kennedy’s mind soon after he took office; indeed, it occupied much of the briefing he received from outgoing President Eisenhower. In a September 1961 speech to the United Nations, Kennedy said the world body needed to be paying more attention to assassinations and guerilla attacks in Southeast Asia: “No one can call these ‘wars of liberation.’ For these are free countries living under their own governments. Nor are these aggressions any less real because men are knifed in their homes and not shot in the field of battle.” – United National General Assembly address, Sept. 25, 1961, quoted on American Rhetoric.

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2. The aggression would not stop in Vietnam, Kennedy told the General Assembly:
“Laotian territory is being used to infiltrate South Vietnam. The world community must recognize -- and all those who are involved -- that this potent threat to Laotian peace and freedom is indivisible from all other threats to their own.”

3. In October 1962, Kennedy went on the radio to tell Americans of the threat posed by Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba: “This urgent transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base – by the presence of these large, long-range, and clearly offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction – constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of all the Americas ... . This action also contradicts the repeated assurances of Soviet spokesmen, both publicly and privately delivered, that the arms buildup in Cuba would retain its original defensive character, and that the Soviet Union had no need or desire to station strategic missiles on the territory of any other nation.” – Radio address, Oct. 22, 1962

4. The missiles were a provocation and United States could not afford to seem weak, Kennedy said in the radio address: “But this secret, swift, extraordinary buildup of Communist missiles ... is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country, if our courage and our commitments are ever to be trusted again by either friend or foe.”

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5. In the address, Kennedy appealed directly to the Cuban people:
“I speak to you as a friend, as one who knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed — and how your fatherland fell under foreign domination ...

“These new weapons are not in your interest. They contribute nothing to your peace and well-being. They can only undermine it. But this country has no wish to cause you to suffer or to impose any system upon you.”

6. Within sight of the new Berlin Wall, Kennedy said the city stood as a symbol of the division and threat posed by communism:
“There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin.” – Speech in Ruldoph Wilde Platz, since renamed John F. Kennedy Platz, West Berlin, June 26, 1963

7. People like to argue over whether Kennedy said he was a doughnut (“Berliner”), but he began and ended his Berlin speech by identifying with the residents of the city: “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’”

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John F. Kennedy saw the Cold War get hotter on his watch, and although U.S. soldiers didn't meet the enemy on the battlefield for a traditional wartime fight, it was still war. From Berlin to Cuba, the president backed up his desire for peace with hard-line talk.
john kennedy wartime, highlights, quotes, speech
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2015-28-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 10:28 AM
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