At a time when the fascination with JFK is centered around the 50th anniversary of his death, it seems more proper to think of his life, of his love for history, how his books sought to understand the present in the context of the past, rather than engage in forgetfulness. I've lost the citation for the item below, but think it came out of the JFK papers, online. I've changed reference to "winners" for I've learned that MOH recipients prefer to think of how they did not win anything, as if in some athletic contest -- though they clearly have won the hearts of those who never forget their sacrifice.
Remarks to a Group of Descendants of Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients
April 28, 1962
Ladies and gentlemen:
I want to tell you how proud I am as President of the United States to welcome you all - those of you who are descended from those who won this Nation's highest decoration and those of you who carry it now - those of you who are interested and concerned about the great war which we had here a hundred years ago.
Whichever side our interests may lie with, or sympathy, I must say all of us are staggered by the courage and casualties which were shown in so many struggles during the Civil War. When you read about companies and regiments going into the battle - at Sharpsburg or in the Wilderness, Petersburg, and the others - and to see the numbers that came out, gives you, I know - and gives me as an American a source of satisfaction to realize that we are the inheritors of that great martial tradition - and particularly those who won this medal, which is of course most coveted and most rare.
So I must say I am delighted that you are keeping alive this tradition. I don't think that there is any feat of arms that is more dramatic than the Andrews Raid - and all the actions of the Civil War, the Indian Wars that followed, and the wars in this century.
And I believe that Americans still have that same spirit and courage. So you're most welcome here. Your credentials to come into the White House are second to none, and we are very glad to have you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. Among the guests were a group of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, the President of the Medal of Honor Society, Luther Skaggs, Jr., officers of the D.C. Civil War Centennial Commission, and members of the national Civil War Centennial Commission.
Prime Minister Macmillan, in Washington on a state visit, was also present and spoke to the group following the President's remarks.