Acting upon authorization from Congress, President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), the thirty-fifth President of the United States (1961–63), proclaimed Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America on 9 April 1963. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Randolph Churchill accepted the award on behalf of his father while his own son, also named Winston, looked on. Here is the text of President Kennedy’s remarks.
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. In enjoining 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 towards 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 had 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 his name now. The name Sir Winston Churchill is already legend.
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