This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
SENATOR KENNEDY: Mrs. Neuberger, Acting Governor Pearson, Senator Lusk, Monroe Sweetland, Jimmy Davidson, my friend, Congresswoman Green, and ladies and gentlemen: First, I would like to introduce my sister, who is representing my wife, who is otherwise committed, my sister, Mrs. Peter Lawford. (Applause)
I want to thank Mrs. Neuberger for her generous introduction. I am proud to come to her state and be presented by her. I served with her husband, Dick, in the Senate. I was associated with him on many important pieces of public activity, and I am delighted that he is going to be succeeded by a distinguished member of his family, the next Senator of the United States from this state, Senator Neuberger. (Applause)
And I am grateful to my friend and colleague from the United States Senate, Senator Lusk, who has been with us a short time, but who has become a beloved member of the Senate. (Applause)
I come from Massachusetts, which is a long way from this state. One hundred years ago, Henry Thoreau said, "Eastward I go only by force; westward I go free. I must walk toward Oregon and not towards Europe."
This town of Salem is named after a town in my own state of Massachusetts, Salem, Massachusetts, and it is an interesting fact that the seal of the City of Salem, in Massachusetts, has a palm tree, has an Indian, and the slogan in honor of the great seaport of Salem is "To the farther side of the Indies." The East Indies are linked with Salem, Massachusetts, because the people of Salem sailed out to those islands in order to bring the wealth home to Massachusetts. Just as the people of Massachusetts, just as the people of New England came west, and, therefore, Salem, Oregon, and Salem, Massachusetts, and the Indies are all linked together by people of courage, who were not satisfied with things as they were, but thought they could do better and came to this state of the Northwest.
I come here today from the oldest section of the United States, and in the last five days I have traveled from the Fairground in Maine to a fairground in Palmer, Alaska, to a fairground in Michigan, to a fairground here in this state, and in every one of those states I have seen the vitality of the American system.
I run for the office of the Presidency saying that this is a great state and a great country, but I also say that it can be a greater country. I don't ask the support of anyone in this election who feels that everything that is happening in this country today is as it should be, and if there is no need for further progress. I don't ask the support of anyone in this election who believes that the security of the United States is insured around the world, who feels that the balance of power is moving in our direction instead of in the direction of the Communist world.
I talk of those who came from this state 100 years ago, who liked my state but who thought they could do better. I come and run for the office of the Presidency because I like America, but I think it can do better, and that is what we should dedicate ourselves to. (Applause)
The hard, tough question for the next decade, for this or any other group of Americans, regardless of their party, is whether we or the Communist world can best demonstrate the vitality of our system. Which system, the Communist system or the system of freedom is going to be able to convince the watching millions in and Africa and Asia, who stand today on the razor edge of decision and try to make a determination as to which direction the world is moving. I think it should move with us. I think ours is the best system. I do not agree with Mr. Khrushchev when he says he is going to bury us. I think we can demonstrate in the next ten years, in the next 40 years, that our high noon is in the future, that our best days are ahead, that our system is in keeping with the basic aspirations of the human people, all over the globe, and the Communist system is doomed to fail. But I think we can do it only if we are willing to work for our country.
I call for the New Frontier and when I do so I don't say what I am going to promise to do for you, if I am elected. I promise that I will give you an opportunity to serve your country, to demonstrate that our cause and the cause of freedom all over the world are intertwined together. I come to this valley in this fair today asking you to join me in this great national effort to rebuild the strength of here and around the world. I think this country is ready to move again. Thank you. (Applause)