President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Commencement Speech at San Diego State



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Home >> Special Collections & University Archives >> Exhibits and Events >> Online Exhibits >> President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Commencement Speech at San Diego State

On June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered San Diego State College's commencement address before approximately 30,000 people at the Aztec Bowl. He was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree during the commencement exercise at San Diego State University. It was the first honorary doctoral degree awarded by any California State University campus. Following a letter to President Kennedy in which Associated Students President Bob Weir asked him to consider giving the 1963 commencement address, California Governor Edmund Brown extended a formal invitation to the President on April 18, 1963. On May 16, a letter from Kennedy's aide, Ken O'Donnell, addressed to President Malcolm Love, was received confirming that Kennedy would be honored to accept the honorary degree. In his commencement address he said:

"As a nation, we have no deeper concern, no older commitment and no higher interest than a strong, sound and free system of education for all. In fulfilling this obligation to ourselves and our children, we provide for the future of our nation-and for the future of freedom."

This feature couples an audio recording of that historic day with a selection of photographs and Daily Aztec articles documenting Kennedy's visit.

JFK's commencement address was covered by KFMB TV-8 San Diego, as part of Kennedy's visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in 1963. This video footage can be viewed at Special Collections' Raising Our Voices multimedia website.

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