United States President John F. Kennedy and AFS

United States President John F. Kennedy spoke to AFS Participants at the White House in Washington, D.C. three times during the course of his presidency.  On the Web site of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), you can listen to the audio file or read the transcript from his first speech given on July 13, 1961, listen to the audio file or read the transcript from his second speech on July 11, 1962, or read the transcript from his final speech to AFS Participants given on July 18, 1963. The audio file for his 1963 speech, which is housed in the AFS Archives, can be found below.

Kennedy's final speech to AFS Participants was in the third year of his presidency on July 18, 1963.  Kennedy's good friend Kirk LeMoyne Billings had been an ambulance driver with the American Field Service during World War II.  Kennedy referred to this when he commended the organization for its activities during the war, and noted that he "knew a good many young men who served in the second war in the American Field Service."  He felt that their experience working with foreign armies taught the AFS Drivers the importance of avoiding another war, and gave them a sense of "the importance of people working together."  Kennedy also addressed the AFS Participants directly about their role in creating a more peaceful world, and asked that they "will not be a friend of the United States, but rather a friend of peace, a friend of all people."

Click on the play button below to listen to an audio file of President Kennedy's speech from July 18, 1963.


Photograph caption: President John F. Kennedy addresses AFS Participants at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 18, 1963. Photographer unknown. This image cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission from the AFS Archives.

Posted November 21, 2013, by Nicole Milano