September 11, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy Presenting Congressional Gold Medal to Bob Hope
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Uploaded on Sep 10, 2009
The President spoke at noon in the Flower Garden at the White House. In his opening remarks he referred to U.S. Senator A. Willis Robertson of Virginia; U.S. Representative Charles A. Halleck of Indiana, House Minority Leader; and U.S. Senator George A. Smathers of Florida. He later referred to Dr. Jonas Salk, Brig. Gen. William (Billy) Mitchell, and Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court, who had been honored by similar medals.
The medal presented to Mr. Hope was struck pursuant to Public Law 87-478 (76 Stat. 93), approved June 8, 1962.
''THE GARDEN is filled with some of your old friends from the Congress. We are glad to see them here. I wish perhaps they would all come forward--the Members of Congress. This is the only bill we've gotten by lately, so we would like to have them. Won't you come up Senator Robertson, who reported it out of the Committee, and Charley Halleck, George--all of you gentlemen, come on up here, now.
We want to express a warm welcome to all of you, to the Members of Congress. Ninety-seven Members of Congress sponsored this legislation--97 Senators--and I think the overwhelming support it was given in the Congress and in the country, Bob, shows the great affection that all of us hold for you and most especially the great appreciation we have for you for so many years going so many places to entertain the sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters of Americans who were very far from home.
So, in passing this bill, in making this medal--and it is one of the really rarest acts of the Congress; I think, since the end of the second war, this has been done on only 10 or 11 occasions--Dr. Salk, Billy Mitchell, Justice Brandeis. It has been one of the rarest honors given to Americans, and it is a great pleasure for me on behalf of the Congress to present this to you.
We have a splendid picture of you. I hope everyone will have a chance to look at it. I present it to you on behalf of the people of the United States.
Mr. Hope: Thank you very much, Mr. President. That is very nice.
I suggested to Senator Symington I should have had a nose job, but he said there would have been less gold.
I actually don't like to tell jokes about a thing like this because it is one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me, and I feel very humble--although I think I have the strength of character to fight it--and I am thrilled that you invited all the Senators and Congressmen up here with us. For awhile it looked like a congressional investigation, but I really appreciate this very much.
And this is sort of an anticlimax to some great thrills that I have had touring the world, and I want to thank the Defense Department, and especially Stuart Symington who started all our Christmas trips and has been more or less a den mother to all of us all these years.
This is a great thing. There is only one sobering thought: I received this for going outside the country. I think they are trying to tell me something.
But I do appreciate it and I want to thank the President for inviting my family. I enjoyed meeting them, and this will mean a lot to my kids. It won't explain why I wasn't in the service, but at least it will point out which side I was on.
Thank you very, very much.
I think it is deductible.
THE PRESIDENT . You might read it on the other side, Bob.
I will read it. It says: "Presented to Bob Hope by President Kennedy in recognition of his having rendered outstanding service to the cause of democracies throughout the world. By the Act of Congress June 8, 1962."
Mr. Hope: Wonderful. Wonderful. That is very nice, and I want to say I also played in the South Pacific while the President was there, and he was a very gay, carefree young man at that time. Of course, all he had to worry about then was the enemy.
But it is thrilling to note that 20 years later he is still on Government rations. Which way is the golf course?
THE PRESIDENT. You go right out there.
Mr. Hope: Thank you very much.''
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