[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Ladies and gentlemen, Members of the Congress, Members of the Cabinet, His Excellency the British Ambassador, Ambassadors of the Commonwealth, old friends of Sir Winston led by Mr. Baruch, ladies and gentlemen:
We gather today at a moment unique in the history of the United States.
This is the first time that the United States Congress has solemnly resolved that the President of the United States shall proclaim an honorary citizenship for the citizen of another country. And in joining me to perform this happy duty, the Congress gives Sir Winston Churchill a distinction shared only with the Marquis de Lafayette.
In proclaiming him an honorary citizen, I only propose a formal recognition of the place he has long since won in the history of freedom and in the affections of my -- and now his -- fellow countrymen.
Whenever and wherever tyranny threatened, he has always championed liberty. Facing firmly toward the future, he has never forgotten the past. Serving six monarchs of his native Great Britain, he has served all men's freedom and dignity.
In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone -- and most men, save Englishmen, despaired of England's life -- he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen.
Indifferent himself to danger, he wept over the sorrows of others. A child of the House of Commons, he became its father. Accustomed to the hardships of battle, he has no distaste for pleasure.
Now his stately ship of life, having weathered the severest storms of a troubled century, is anchored in tranquil waters -- proof that courage and faith and zest for freedom are truly indestructible. The record of his triumphant passage will inspire free hearts all over the globe.
By adding his name to our rolls, we mean to honor him; but his acceptance honors us much more. For no statement or proclamation can enrich its name now -- the name Sir Winston Churchill is already legend.
[President Kennedy signs and reads the proclamation]
And by the President of the United States of America a Proclamation:
WHEREAS Sir Winston Churchill, a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation; and
WHEREAS he has freely offered his hand and his faith in days of adversity as well as triumph; and
WHEREAS his bravery, charity and valor, both in war and in peace, have been a flame of inspiration in freedom's darkest hour; and
WHEREAS his life has shown that no adversary can overcome, and no fear can deter, free men in the defense of their freedom; and
WHEREAS he has expressed with unsurpassed power and splendor the aspirations of peoples everywhere for dignity and freedom; and
WHEREAS he has by his art as an historian and his judgment as a statesman made the past the servant of the future;
Now, THEREFORE, I, JOHN. F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, under the authority contained in an Act of the 88th Congress, do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
DONE at the City of Washington this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-seventh.
Click to enlarge image of Proclamation
Audio and Images Source: John F, Kennedy Library. Photos by Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
U.S Copyright Status: Text, Audio, Images = Public domain.