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President John F. Kennedy
at Hanau, Germany - June 25, 1963
A visit to 3rd Armored Division and V Corps troops,
their families and German guests

 

An eloquence that is still largely relevant to America's military posture in the world today, and given on the day before Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in Berlin.

Text of Speech:

I want to express my special thanks to my countrymen who serve the United States over 3,500 miles from our own shores. Never in history has a country had so many of its sons serving so far away from their own land in a time of danger -- not for the purpose of conquest, but for the purpose of freedom.

Stretching all around the globe, there are Americans on duty who help maintain the freedom of dozens of countries who might now be engulfed if it were not for this long thin line which occupies such a position of responsibility, guarding so many gates, where the enemy campfires in some cases can be seen from the top of the wall.

We take the greatest pride in this record, and I want to express the thanks of the American people to the members of this Division and Corps, and to their families who also serve far away from home. And I hope that 180 million Americans and millions of others who sleep peacefully at night know that it's because you stand in this field.

Your ability to sustain yourselves ensures the peace. We maintain the peace by preparing for adversity. And your willingness to serve here - members of the Air Force who are stationed in a hundred different airfields; ships of our Navy, far out of sight of land - help protect the peace and the freedom. So I do not think it amiss that we take some satisfaction in this record.

We thank you especially for undertaking the burdensome tasks that sometimes go with peacetime military service.

I have quoted before, and quote now, an old poem, which I don't think is true in this case, which says that:

  God as a soldier, all men adore,
In time of danger and not before.
The danger passed, and all things righted,
God is forgotten,
and the Old Soldier slighted. 

In these days we depend upon God, and we also depend upon our soldiers.

Thank you.

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