The Speech He NeverHad the Chance to Deliver
The death of President Kennedy rocked a nation that had already endured (and would yet endure) a number of struggles, ranging from the death of Martin Luther King to the horrors of the Vietnam War.
But why was President Kennedy in Dallas to begin with? That is a question that often goes overlooked.
Though he had not officially announced his reelection campaign, President Kennedy had, in the weeks prior to his Dallas trip, laid out an introductory plan of sorts that would eventually culminate in his bid for a second term. At the end of September, President Kennedy traveled west, speaking in nine different states in less than a week. During his visits, President Kennedy highlighted his plan (which was to become a large part of his reelection plan) to focus on natural resources, renewable energy, education, world peace proposals, an aggressive conservation agenda, and further plans for space exploration.
During these initial trips, President Kennedy expressed to his closest advisers his belief that victory in both Florida and Texas would be essential if he hoped to win a second term in the White House. As a result, further visits to both of those states were scheduled for the future. President Kennedy was particularly concerned about a growing number of extremists, especially in cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where were beginning to pose resistance to Democrat strongholds (even U.S. Ambassador and former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson had been assaulted earlier in September while delivering a speech in Dallas). In addition, the trip was meant to resolve some issues that had come up between opposing factions within the Democratic Party in Texas. For the President and his advisers, the trip to Dallas, which was sure to be the first of many to the Lone Star State, was a no-brainer.
Of course, the rest of the story is known by virtually every American. President Kennedy met an untimely demise while making his way to Dealey Plaza. Once there, the President planned to make the following speech. Below are some of the words of the Speech that John F. Kennedy was never able to deliver. They highlight some of the "coming attractions" that we never got to see. You can read the speech in its entirety by clicking here:
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.
But today other voices are heard in the land --- voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.
About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist bloc --- nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communist aggression --- Viet Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on its own the resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased overseas deployment of American combat forces. And reducing the economic help needed to bolster these nations that undertake to help defend freedom can have the same disastrous result. In short, the $50 billion we spend each year on our own defense could well be ineffective without the $4 billion required for military and economic assistance.
Our foreign aid program is not growing in size; it is, on the contrary, smaller now than in previous years. It has had its weaknesses, but we have undertaken to correct them. And the proper way of treating weaknesses is to replace them with strength, not to increase those weaknesses by emasculating essential programs. Dollar for dollar, in or out of government, there is no better form of investment in our national security than our much-abused foreign aid program. We cannot afford to lose it. We can afford to maintain it. We can surely afford, for example, to do as much for our 19 needy neighbors of Latin America as the Communist bloc is sending to the island of Cuba alone.
I have spoken of strength largely in terms of the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But, in today's world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets. The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles --- on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
That is why our Information Agency has doubled the shortwave broadcasting power of the Voice of America and increased the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from 1 to 9 hours a day, increased seven-foid to more than 35 million copies the number of American books being translated and published for Latin American readers, and taken a host of other steps to carry our message of truth and freedom to all the far corners of the earth.
And that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all space activities undertaken during the fifties, launching more than 130 vehicles into earth orbit, putting into actual operation valuable weather and communications satellites, and making it clear to all that the United States of America has no intention of finishing second in space.
This effort is expensive --- but it pays its own way, for freedom and for America. For there is no longer any fear in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion of supremacy and the basis of military superiority. There is no longer any doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry, American education, and the American free enterprise system. In short, our national space effort represents a great gain in, and a great resource of our national strength --- and both Texas and Texans are contributing greatly to this strength.
Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.
My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions --- it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations --- it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are --- by destiny rather than choice --- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."