Detroit, Michigan (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, August 26, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, 1960 Democratic Nominee for President of the United States, spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars* (VFW) Convention here in Detroit.
Senator Kennedy began by expressing pride in his membership in the VFW and in their call for "an increase in our defensive strength." But then came this warning....
"I would like to be able to say...that the United States is the first in the world militarily, economically, scientifically and educationally....but I cannot make these claims. The harsh facts....are that our security and leadership are both slipping. I believe that there can be only one possible defense policy for the United States.....FIRST.....PERIOD!"
Examples JFK provided of this slippage included the capture of an American flight crew that had been shot down over the East German border, the breaking-off of peace conferences by the Soviets, and the interference of their leaders in the American presidential election.
Senator Kennedy continued...
"As veterans we expect that (the) Nation will try to make of itself such a standing in the world that the sacrifices of those who died in the last wars will be worthy of our present effort."
On a positive note, Mr. Kennedy acknowledged that the United States was "still the strongest power in the world," but added that the rate of Communist military, economic, scientific, educational and political power were "growing faster than our own."
Quoting a famous American revolutionary, JFK said...
"Thomas Paine once said, 'The cause of America is the cause of all mankind.' I think...the cause of all mankind is the cause of America."
*Veterans of Foreign Wars originated at the end of the Spanish American War of 1898 when veterans banded together "to take care for themselves." By 1936, there were 200,000 members & today there are almost 2 million. The mission of the VFW is "To foster camaraderie among U.S. veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military & our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans."
"Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, VFW Convention, Detroit, MI, August 26, 1960," The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/
Veterans of Foreign Wars Website, www.vfw.org/