Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy gave an Independence Day address here in Philadelphia 52 years ago today, July 4, 1962.
The President began his speech twenty minutes before Noon in Independence Square. In the audience were members of the National Governors Conference.
President Kennedy said...
"Because our system is designed to encourage both differences and dissent, because its checks and balances are designed to preserve the rights of the individual and the locality against preeminent central authority, you and I, Governors, recognize how dependent we both are, one upon the other, for the successful operation of our unique and happy form of government.
"Our system and our freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside, party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in contention one with another.
Our task...is to weave from all these...threads a fabric of law and progress.
We are not permitted the luxury of irresolution.Our responsibility is one of decision--for to govern is to choose.
...you and I are the executors of the testament handed down by those who gathered in this historic hall...to affix their names to a document...of bold decision...to assert the independence of free States...and to commit to that goal their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."
The President continued...
"To read (the Declaration of Independence) today is to hear a trumpet call...that unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs.
Its authors were highly conscious of its worldwide implications. And George Washington declared that liberty and self-government everywhere were, in his words, 'finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.'
If there is a single issue that divides the world today, it is independence--the independence of Berlin or Laos or Viet-Nam; the longing for independence behind the Iron Curtain.
The theory of independence is as old as man (and)...it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that 'the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.'"
The President concluded...
"On Washington's birthday in 1861, standing right there, President-elect Abraham Lincoln spoke in this hall on his way to the Nation's Capital. And he paid a... tribute to the men who wrote, who fought for, and who died for the Declaration of Independence.
Its essence, he said, was its promise not only of liberty 'to the people of this country, but hope to the world...that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men...'
On this 4th day of July, 1962, we who are gathered at this same hall, entrusted with the fate and future of our State and Nation, declare now our vow to do our part to lift the weights from the shoulders of all, to join other men and nations in preserving both 'peace and freedom, and to regard any threat to the peace or freedom of one as a threat to the peace and freedom of all.'
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes and our sacred Honor."