Municipal Auditorium
Sioux City, IA

Sioux City Municipal Auditorium - c.1950s

Sioux City, Iowa, is the head of navigation for the Missouri River. Settled in 1849 and named after the Sioux people, it expanded rapidly with the arrival of the railway in 1868.1  The Municipal Auditorium, at 401 Gordon Drive, was a 3,500 seat multi-purpose arena built in 1952 and used to host local sporting events and concerts among other events.2

The new city auditorium is surrounded by water which reaches beyond into the
industrial and stockyard sections of the city - Apr. 13, 1952
Photo © Bettmann/CORBIS

In 1952, rapid melting of an above-normal snow cover in eastern Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota caused major flooding in the Missouri River basin. Many area communities were flooded and downtown Sioux City was inundated by water which reached beyond into the industrial and stockyard sections of the city.

Sioux City Auditorium surrounded by flooded Missouri River waters - April  1952
Photo courtesy Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

It was in the aftermath of the 1952 flood that numerous cases of polio were reported in Sioux City and throughout the tri-state area. The polio epidemic hit this region of the country especially hard and lasted until vaccine was developed to combat the disease in the late 1950s.3

A Day With Nixon From Ottumwa To Sioux City - 1952
Photo by
Francis Miller © Time Inc.

Later that year, while campaigning as the running mate for Dwight D. Eisenhower's bid for the Presidency, Senator Richard M. Nixon made his first visit to the Municipal Auditorium in Sioux City.

On May 23, 1956, on yet another stop of a tour of the Midwest, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ made an appearance in Sioux City at the Municipal Auditorium. They had performed in Des Moines the previous night. Several pieces in the Sioux City Journal days before announced the show and its performers:

Singer Presley, Here Wednesday, Setting Records

Elvis Presley, the young hillbilly rock-and-roller who will be seen and heard at the Sioux City Municipal auditorium Wednesday night, is breaking all sorts of records and cutting quite a swath in the popular music business.
Not only are his recent disks selling at fabulous rates, but he's leading numerous imitators trying to climb the road to stardom with his style, a mixture of corn and the blues.
Presley's Heartbreak Hotel has sold more than one million records in only a few weeks on the market, while his latest release, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, and My Baby Left Me, has already sold more than 400,000 copies to distributors in advance. He also has sold more than 300,000 of his pop album, making it the all-time record holder in his organization.

Sioux City Journal - May 20, 1956 courtesy Sioux City Public Library

Presley Tops Varied Show

The nation's No. 1 popular recording artist, Elvis Presley, comes to Sioux City tonight for a single performance at the municipal auditorium, beginning at 8 p.m. Presley will head an allstar variety show in his appearance here.
Sharing the bill with Presley will be two top vocalists formerly associated with name bands - Frankie Connors, tenor, who sang with Tommy Dorsey, and Jackie Little, who toured with Anson Weeks' orchestra.
Rock and roll fans will treat to the music of the Flaims, teenage group of six from Chicago. The famed Jordanaires quartet, seen on the Eddie Arnold radio and television show, will furnish a rollicking contrast to young Presley's solos.
Comedy will be provided by clever Phil Maraquin, direct from appearances on the Colgate Comedy hour and the Ed Sullivan show.
Hugh Jarret will be master-of-ceremonies.
Presley records now are selling at the rate of 50,000 a day , and he leads all branches of the popular music field in this respect. Heartbreak Hotel, which has lead all his disks, has sold more than a million copies, with Blue Suede Shoes and I Was the One not far behind.
Presley also has appeared on the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey television show, the Milton Berle show and several other attractions. He recently completed an engagement at the New Frontier in Las Vegas and next week will go to Hollywood, where he has been signed to a seven-year motion picture contract with Hal Wallis.

Sioux City Journal - May 23, 1956 courtesy Sioux City Public Library

The review in the paper the next day panned the show, naturally, or rather Elvis specifically, when Journal writer Marjorie Howe wrote:

An hysterical crowd of 5,000 gave Elvis Presley a screaming reception at the auditorium Wednesday night. His performance was the most disgusting exhibition this reporter has ever seen. For Presley is the male counterpart of a hoochee koochee dancer in a burlesque show.4

DJ, Elvis and Bill onstage at Sioux City Municipal Auditorium - May 23, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff and Trevor Cajaio's "Talking Elvis"

The writhing goes on while Presley is singing Blue Suede Shoes or Hound Dog, but his frenzied singing and guitar strumming are only incidental to the act. In fact, the singing can barely be heard above the crowd noise for every paroxysm brings a fresh outbreak of shrieks from the audience.

A formidable line of police officers kept the people away from the stage but they jammed the aisles, moving ever closer. They were almost all teenagers, with girls in the overwhelming majority.

Presley is not long out of the teen-age bracket himself. He has a sulkey look and his infrequent smile is almost surly. He wears long sideburns and is beginning to get fat.4

Scotty and Elvis onstage at Sioux City Municipal Auditorium - May 23, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff and Trevor Cajaio's "Talking Elvis"

The Elvis Presley performance took up only one fourth of the show, the last fourth, but it was the part the audience was waiting for. They showed their impatience at every delay. They were restless. They were watching for a glimpse of Presley. The tension mounting.

They almost ignored some of the preliminary acts, which were fairly good. They liked the comedian and the male quartet but talked all the time some other singing was going on.

Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill onstage at Sioux City Municipal Auditorium - May 23, 1956
Photo courtesy FECC/denon3910

Then there was an intermission and still further postponement and finally Presley appeared and the contortions and the tumult began. The act was merely variations on a single theme, except that every new wiggle was a little more "low down," in Presley's own words, and quite soon the orgy was ended.4

Elvis onstage at Sioux City Municipal Auditorium - May 23, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff and Trevor Cajaio's "Talking Elvis"

The only consolation is a prediction that Elvis Presley's sensational popularity will be short lived.4  As became evident, Ms. Howe was probably never consoled, since her prediction, like that of many others, failed to be realized.

The tour moved on for a performance in Kansas City the following night.

Elvis receives the Salk vaccine - Oct 28, 1956
Photo courtesy FECC

Also in 1956, Elvis joined the ranks of celebrities like Louis Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe, and Lucille Ball, who supported the March of Dimes during the polio years.  The March of Dimes was a grassroots campaign run primarily by volunteers. The name came from comedian Eddie Cantor’s comment that the donation of dimes from across the country could become a “march of dimes,” a reference to the popular March of Time newsreels of the era. Over the years, millions of people gave small amounts of money to support both the care of people who got polio and research into prevention and treatment. Those contributions financed Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, and the other researchers who developed the polio vaccines that children around the world receive today. 5

Sen. Kennedy rode a white mule during his visit to Sioux City stockyards - Sep. 22, 1960
Photo by Stanley Tretick © Bettmann/CORBIS

Later that year, Vice President Nixon made another appearance at the Auditorium during Eisenhower's re-election campaign the in 1960, while campaigning for the Presidency, the Auditorium was used for visits by both candidates. Vice President Nixon spoke on September 17th followed on September 22nd by Senator John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts. Coming from an era that was rampant with the fear of the spread of Communism, both addressed those fears and the needs and requirements to maintain peace and a free society.

Kennedy and Nixon following their nationally televised debate - Sep. 26, 1960
AP Photo

Four days after Kennedy's visit in 1960, the two candidates met for the first (of four) general election presidential debates.

The Tyson Events Center
Photo courtesy Siouxland Chamber of Commerce

Tyson/Gateway Center adjacent to the Auditorium - 2009
Photo © Microsoft EarthData

The Auditorium was later the home arena for ice hockey teams the Sioux City Musketeers, formed in 1972, and until 1982, the Briar Cliff College Chargers.In 2003 the 10,000 seat Gateway Arena inside the Tyson Events Center was built adjacent to the Municipal Auditorium replacing its use for large concerts and sporting events.

The Long Lines Family Recreation Center
Photo courtesy City of Sioux City, IA

The Long Lines Family Recreation Center
Photo courtesy City of Sioux City, IA

The auditorium and building was preserved and today is the Long Lines Family Recreation Center.

The Long Lines Family Recreation Center
Photo courtesy City of Sioux City, IA

The Long Lines Family Recreation Center
Photo courtesy City of Sioux City, IA

The Center serves a multitude of events, from volleyball and basketball to meetings and wedding receptions. In addition to meeting rooms and courts available for rental, the Recreation Center also has a batting cage and the area's only climbing wall.

The Long Lines Family Recreation Center
Photo © Microsoft EarthData

page added October 21, 2009

Special thanks to David Mook and the Sioux City Public Library for their assistance with all 1956 ads and articles. 

1 from Sioux City - The Hutchinson Encyclopedia article about Sioux City
2 according to Wikipedia
3 from Wikipedia - The History of Sioux City
from "Teenagers Like Presley's Antics--But Others Do Not!" by Marjorie Howe, Sioux City Journal - May 24, 1956
5 from "What ever happened to Polio?" by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in Florida - 1960
Photo courtesy

Remarks of Vice President Nixon, Municipal Auditorium, Sioux City, IA
September 17, 1960

Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your welcome and may I thank all of those who have participated in this program for their very kind words and for the work they have done in arranging this meeting today.
I have been looking forward to coming back to Sioux City for a number of reasons - one of them, of course, somewhat personal. You know in sports, any kind of a contest whether it's baseball, or football, or anything like that, you kind of get an idea sometimes that luck plays a part. When a certain play works one time you think maybe it may help you another time. And the same is true to a certain extent in politics. You like to repeat the things that worked out before.

I was here first in this auditorium in 1952 - I think one of the first meetings ever held in it. I was here next in 1956 and I'm here again in 1960. We won in 1952. We won in 1956. Three is a charm; we're going to win in 1960, too. [Cheers.]

Now I didn't think it was possible to top the two meetings we had those years, particularly when we were coming in the middle of the day and Saturday when I suppose a lot of people would like to be out hunting or out with some sort of recreation on a weekend - beginning it. And to have this wonderful crowd, which I think tops the crowds in 1952 and 1956, if that was possible, really warms our hearts on our last meeting in Iowa on this swing. And we thank you, therefore, for making it such a wonderful meeting. We thank the bands and all of the organizations that have participated. I just wish we could meet each of you personally and tell you how deeply we appreciate your giving your time to us as you have.

There are other reasons too, incidentally. Coming back to Sioux City is something I've been looking forward to. Every year Charlie Hoeven has a party in Washington. Now whoever is elected Vice President isn't going to have any difficulty getting invitations to parties, I can assure you. The problem is to know which ones that you don't have to go to so that you'll have enough time to spend at least one night a week with your family. But there is one party that I never miss and that is the party that Charlie Hoeven has in which the Sioux City Chamber of Commerce comes down and has steaks. [Applause.] I see Fred Seaton and Bourke Hickenlooper clapping over there too because they know what I'm going to talk about.

Each year they've been promising that they're going to bring us a steak that we can really finish off and eat. This year they said they had small steaks. I couldn't see the plate for the steak, it was that big. And all I can say is that it's one of the most enjoyable functions we've ever had. The Democrats and Republicans of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees come. The leaders of both parties come. And it's a time when we always appreciate this great city in the heart of America and I want to express appreciation to all of you who have made it possible.

May I say this, Charlie, that if you have a Sioux City steak feed next year, however this election comes out I hope to be invited in Washington, D.C. [Applause.]

Then, of course, the other reasons that I am happy to be here I think are quite obvious to you. The fact that this is Charlie Hoeven's hometown, or home district. He has, as you know, represented you so magnificently but more than that, he's represented his party in the Nation so splendidly, particularly in the field of agriculture.

I made a speech yesterday in Guthrie Center, Iowa, and I'm going to make another one next week in South Dakota, on farm programs. I am setting forth in these two speeches some proposals, new proposals, to deal with the farm program that I think will make an asset rather than a liability out of the ability of the farmers of America to produce more than any farmers in the world have ever produced and to make us the richest country in the world from the standpoint of their tremendous production.

But let me say, all the programs that I might advocate aren't going to mean a thing unless we can get them through the Congress. I believe this problem is so important that it should be taken up very early in the next Congress so that the decisions on the program can be made having in mind farmers' plans for their 1961 crops. But in order to get early action in the next Congress, we're going to have to have just as much support as we possibly can from those who will stand for this program. Now, the fact that we will have received a mandate in effect from the people by electing the national ticket will get us some of that support. But it would also help immensely if we could have in the House enough Republicans, that Charlie Hoeven of this district was the chairman rather than the minority member and leader of the House Agricultural Committee. So I hope that that's what happens. [Applause.]

Now, I had a lot of nice things to say about your own Jack Miller. But I was listening out there in the wings and everything that I was going to say has already been said. I only add this:

Bourke Hickenlooper has been one of my closest advisers since I have been a candidate for office and when I first came to the Senate he was one with whom I often consulted, not only on agricultural matters but particularly in matters involving foreign affairs where, as you know, he has had a tremendous amount of experience, and in the field of atomic energy where he is one of the few acknowledged experts in the House and in the Senate of the United States. And certainly he would agree with me when I say that we have a very thin line, a very courageous line of Republican Senators at the present time in the U.S. Senate and we need to have with Bourke Hickenlooper to work with him as Tom Martin has worked with him in the past 6 years this young, vigorous, intelligent man from your own city, a man who can bring great articulate ability to the greatest debating society that the world has ever seen - and I'm not speaking just of length but I trust also of ability in the U.S. Senate - but a man also that can bring expertness in the tax field. And there isn't any more important field that the Senate takes up.

So I urge to you a tremendous vote of confidence for your own Jack Miller so that we can have him down there in Washington working with Bourke Hickenlooper in the next Senate of the United States. [Applause.]

Now as you folks all know, this has been Iowa day as far as Pat and I are concerned. It really started 24 hours ago in Omaha, Nebr., and incidentally, I understand that because of the strategic location of Sioux City that we have people from Nebraska here, and South Dakota as well. And we welcome you and what I say is [applause] thank you very much. I think there are some over there.

Now in traveling from Omaha, Nebr., yesterday morning through the heartland of Iowa to Des Moines, and then flying by plane today to this great city in Iowa, we've had an opportunity to talk literally to thousands of people and persons, as we are talking today. We've had an opportunity to meet hundreds and shake hands, chat with them briefly. I've had a chance to be on television to speak to the people of Iowa through the television last night. And as I have talked and as I have had the opportunity to discuss issues with the people of this State, I have reached some conclusions with regard to the issues in which you are primarily interested. And I'd like to discuss those issues today with you if I might, not in terms of my party's affiliation, not in terms simply of saying, as is usually the case, I am a Republican, vote Republican if you're a Republican because this happens to be a Republican district. But I am going to present the case in this way.

I'd like for everybody in this great audience for just a few minutes, as long as I'm talking, to forget whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or an independent. I would like for you to think only of the fact that you're an American citizen and that you're a very powerful person with the most powerful weapon that the world has ever known in your hands - and that's the ability to go into a polling booth next November the 8 and put an X after the name of the man who will run, and who will be the next President of the United States, as well as the next Senator, and Congressman, and Governor. And incidentally, may I say I'm tremendously pleased with the fine candidate we have for Governor here and your candidates for State office. I share your approval of them and I expect Iowa to return to the Republican fold for Governor in this State in this election. [Applause.]

But as you go into that polling booth, as I have indicated, think of yourself as an American citizen with this great power in your hands to determine who will lead America and who will lead the free world in the next 4 years. And then as you determine that, ask yourself some questions. What do you want from your Government in Washington? What do you want from the President of the United States? What leadership do you think will be best for you? And that, of course, means what leadership will be best for America. And then make your decision today and in the weeks ahead, and on November 8 on that basis. Let me tell you why I ask you to do that.

In my study of American history I have found, as I'm sure you have found, that all of our great Presidents have not been members of one party. Some of them have been Democrats; some of them have been Republicans. And the American people in their wisdom picked the President who at the time, whether he's a Democrat or Republican, can best provide the leadership the country needs. And that's why I ask you to make your decision in that spirit.

Now, what do you want? What is the first thing that you want? I will tell you what I believe it is from travels around this country and from over the State of Iowa.

Out at the airport today greeting us were a number of very interesting groups but one that particularly impressed me were 300 Boy Scouts in uniform, standing at attention - not in the goose-step rigid attention that you see in a totalitarian country like the Soviet Union in a pioneer camp for youth - but standing in the way Boy Scout groups usually stand, with the freedom of movement and expression that we expect from an organization of that type. The thing that ran through my mind I'm sure was what would run through your mind - that the most important question and the most important responsibility for the next President of the United States is to see that those boys and thousands like them are always in uniforms of peace and never have to be in uniforms of war. [Applause.]

And so I say to you today that the most important responsibility of the next President is to keep the peace without surrender and that is the question you should ask - which of the candidates - which of the two for President and Vice President will best provide that leadership. I, of course, believe we can provide it and I want to tell you why in a few sentences.

One, because I think that on the record we have done a better job. Look at our record. You've heard lots of criticisms about it, about the things that are wrong with the foreign policy leadership of President Eisenhower and his administration. But the results speak for themselves. We have difficulties because we have had them and will continue to have them as long as there are aggressive enemies of freedom on the loose in the world. But the test of a policy is not whether you have difficulties but whether you surmount those difficulties without becoming embroiled in war. And I say that the people of the United States will be forever grateful to Dwight Eisenhower for the fact that he ended one war, kept this country out of other wars and we have peace without surrender today for America and the world. [Applause.] And I believe that we can have, and do have, the programs that will have the best chance to maintain that peace. I don't say it's going to be easy. I don't say we're not going to have troubles because I've been around the world enough and I know the Communists well enough to know that they're going to stir up trouble every place around the world when they have an opportunity. But I do think that I know what we can do to contain that trouble, and not only contain it and defend ourselves but to take the offensive and extend freedom throughout the world. These things are necessary. [Applause.]

First, we're going to keep this Nation as it is today the strongest in all the world. Why? Not because we ever want to use that strength against anybody else for aggressive purposes but because we know that as long as we are the strongest nation that we together with other peace-loving peoples will have strength that will deter anybody else who may want to extend their power by the use of military force. We will deter them from using that strength.

And may I say that this strength must come before everything else and that America has the will, we have the resources and we will see to it that we continue to stay ahead of any potential enemies of peace and freedom in military strength. [Applause.]

Now second, we've got to combine that strength with a wise diplomatic policy because strength when it's used improperly can produce exactly the wrong results for which it was intended. And by a wise policy I mean one that first, analyzes the Communists because they are the ones that threaten the peace of the world and the only ones that threaten it today, that analyzes how they think, and that then develops diplomatic policies which will be designed to keep them from one, extending their influence in the world and two, which will be designed to keep them from using their military strength in a way that would threaten the peace of the world. What's an example of that kind of a policy?

I think the way the President conducted himself, as I have often indicated, as I said on television last night, the way he conducted himself in Paris is an excellent example.

It's a fine line because it's the easy thing when you're dealing with men like this to go to extremes. When you talk to a man like Mr. Khrushchev as I did, when he insults you, when he is arrogant, the temptation is to lose your temper and to come back and to answer him in kind. But that's the wrong thing to do - wrong because the moment that you do that you are first losing your dignity and the dignity of your nation and when you're confident that you're right, you never have to get down and answer insult for insult with a man like Mr. Khrushchev or anybody else. [Applause.] And you never would want to risk what you might risk by getting into a war of words with him, of having it develop into another kind of war that you want to avoid.

So holding your temper, not answering insult for insult is necessary. But then the fine line stops there. You must avoid another extreme and that is because he is arrogant, because he does say I will use my strength unless you give me what I want in Berlin, unless you give me what I want in Asia, unless you give me what I want in South America or Africa, I will use my strength to obtain it. There is also the temptation that you might say well, maybe he means what he says and, therefore, if we would give a little here or give a little there at the conference table that this might save the peace. Or putting it another way, if we don't give it, it might lead to war. And, my friends, that would be just as great mistake as losing your temper and I'll tell you why.

Because in dealing with men like this you must remember that they don't react like the leaders of the free world react. As far as they're concerned when you make a concession to them without getting a concession in return - and that's the only way that we can negotiate with the men in the Kremlin and we will negotiate that way and we can I think negotiate in the years ahead that way if we make it clear that that is the basis for it - but when you give them the idea that they can cram concessions without giving something in return, it doesn't satisfy them. It only encourages them to ask for more. That's why it would have been the greatest mistake in the world for President Eisenhower to have taken the well-intentioned suggestions of those who said he might have saved the summit conference by expressing regrets to Mr. Khrushchev for the U-2 flights. This would have been a mistake one, because it wouldn't have worked and two, for another reason, no President of the United States can, of course ever consider expressing regrets for attempting to defend the United States against surprise attacks. [Applause.]

So I say to you, we will keep this Nation stronger, the strongest in the world. We will have a firm diplomatic policy. But we also must strengthen the instruments of peace. We must be willing, as the President has often indicated, to sit down at the conference table with Mr. Khrushchev or anybody else whenever there are clear indications that such a conference might relieve the tensions that hang over the world today.

And we must strengthen the instruments of peace like the United Nations. Why? Because when the United States has other free nations standing with it, you see, we can be much stronger in furthering the cause of peace and freedom than if we move unilaterally as some have suggested we might in South America, in Africa, or some place else. And in that respect I'm very proud to say today that as far as our ticket is concerned we have a man in Henry Cabot Lodge, a man who can help immensely the next President of the United States in this particular project of strengthening the instruments of peace. [Applause.] I don't believe that any man in the world today has had more experience and could have done a better job than he has done at the United Nations defending the cause of freedom, defending the position of the United Nations against the men in the Kremlin.

So we present him, we present our ticket as one that from the standpoint of our experience and our background and from what we stand can one, keep the United States strong militarily, have our diplomatic policy firm, and in addition to that, as a team which will not stay simply on the defensive but which will extend the cause of freedom and strengthen the instruments of peace.

Now may I turn to what else you want from your next President and your next administration?

In addition to peace and freedom for ourselves we, of course, want a good life. My dad always used to say to me when we were growing up - to me and my four brothers - he said you know lots of people always talk about the good old days. He said, "I remember the good old days. I remember when I used to work for a dollar a day and I don't want to go back." And he said, "Also, I never believe in talking about how good things are even at the present time and being satisfied with them, although you boys," he said, "should realize that you have had it a lot better than we did." But he said, "In this country we must always think of how we can have a better life in the future for our people and our children than we've had for ourselves."

So what we want in America then is an administration in Washington under which we can have a good life at home. What does this mean? One, good jobs with good pay. Good schools. Medical care. Security in our old age. So I'd like to present our case in this respect.

I say to you that I am proud first of the record in this respect. Oh I know you've been reading the papers, I imagine, as I have and listening to television and radio. And you've heard these charges to the effect that for the seven Eisenhower years America has stood still, that we've had no progress in our health and education, and in our jobs, and income, and all these other fields. Well I'll tell you. Those people that think America has been standing still just haven't been around this country because if they do travel through America they'll find some things. They'll find that we have built more schools in the 7 Eisenhower years than were built in the 20 years which preceded it. [Applause.] And they'll find that whatever comparison you take we will find the same thing with regard to hospitals, with regard to social security, as far as the wage earners of this country - 67 million of them - they will find that real wages went up five times as much in the course of the Eisenhower administration as they did in the 7 years of the Truman administration.

So I say that as far as the record is concerned we have produced where they have promised. [Applause.] What about the future?

Well, we've heard a lot of talk about new frontiers. All that I can say, my friends, there are new frontiers for America but believe me, we're not going to cross those new frontiers with the old jalopy that they say they're going to put us in in the event that they get the White House next November. [Applause.] Because you see, the economic policies that they would advocate are not new. They're just as old as the ones we left in 1953, the ones that we had during the course of the Truman administration which did not produce the progress that we have had in this administration. And I think I can sum up the difference in approach in a word. The reason they will fail in creating great progress for America that we need where we will succeed is that they begin with the fallacious assumption that the primary source of progress in this country is by sending everything to the Federal Government in Washington, D.C., the Federal Government will do this and that and the other thing and the people will follow along and do as they're told. And, my friends, that isn't the way America got to be the strongest nation in the world, the richest nation in the world, the best country in the world in which to live. The way we got where we are and the way we're going to move into a brighter new future over these new frontiers is not by relying on what the Federal Government does but by having Federal and other policies which will encourage and stimulate the best creative energy of 180 million free individual American citizens. [Applause.]

And so I say to you, by whatever test that you make, consider what you want from Government. Do you want peace? Jobs? Do you want from Government the schools, hospitals, all these other things to which I have referred? And I think that on the record this administration has a case to present which is unbeatable, but more than that, we have a program for the future, one which simply does not stand on this record, but one which will recognize those areas where we haven't done as effective a job as we have, such as I have recognized that as far as our farm income is concerned that here we have not done as effective a job. We have not done it, not because of the fault of Republicans as such, or Democrats as such, but because we have not been imaginative enough, we've been too negative, and we have not moved on this problem and made it an asset, as I indicated at the beginning, rather than a liability. But I am confident that we can do it and with your help and your support we will do it. [Applause.]

And now finally may I mention one other point to this great audience in Sioux City before we fly on to Minnesota and then on to Washington tonight.

I would not want you to think that all that the American people want out of life is military strength and the material things which go up to a good living - amount to a good living. One of the things that has encouraged me tremendously as I have traveled about this country is this. We're not only the strongest nation militarily and economically, but the American people are strong in their idealism. And let us never forget that what really distinguishes America is not our military strength or our economic might, but the fact that we believe in ideals, the God-given dignity of men and women as individuals in moral and spiritual values that have caught the imagination of the world 185 years ago and still are a symbol of hope and liberty to the world.

And, my friends, I urge you today to recognize that as far as this moral strength is concerned, no President can provide it. His leadership can help but it must come from the hearts and the souls and the minds of the American people. And as I see our churches, as I see our schools, as I see great audiences like this, I know that America is sound and strong in these areas and I urge you to continue to make this country strong morally and spiritually as well as in the other fields that I mentioned.

So with that, thank you again for welcoming us. And if after what I have said you believe that the leadership that Henry Cabot Lodge and I can provide is the leadership that's best for America, if you believe that the leadership that Jack Miller and Charlie Hoeven can provide is the best that you can have in the Senate and the House of Representatives, if you believe that the leadership that Norman Erbe and his colleagues for State government is the best that Iowa can provide, then I say, "Go to work. Work as you never have before remembering that you're working not just for men as individuals and not just for a party, but that you're working for what is best for America and that will be best for you."

Thank you.

courtesy John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Municipal Auditorium, Sioux City, Iowa
September 22, 1960

Governor Loveless, Mrs. Price, ladies and gentlemen. I want to express my appreciation to you for your hospitality. One of the interesting things in running for the Presidency is that you have to be prepared to speak at 11 o'clock at night or 8 in the morning. I am delighted to come. You have all contributed heavily. You have been touched deeply by coming to this breakfast. But it is most useful and most worthwhile. (Laughter) I don't think it is presumptuous in thinking that this is an important election. The Congress has vast powers. I suppose really since the Administration of Franklin Roosevelt, every decision of government affects the lives of all of us. I would say that that is more true in the Sixties than it has ever been before. It deserves some of our attention, it deserves some of our lives, whether you be farmers or small businessmen or professional men or housewives. There is not any doubt that the decisions of the next President and the next Senate and the next Congress, and the Governor of this state, will affect for good or for bad not only your lives, but the lives of your children, your education, your health, your income, your taxes, you security, the peace of the world, housing, the kind of business we have in this country.

We have been successful in maintaining a free society at the same time the government, state and national, plays a great role in our lives. The question that is before us in the Sixties is whether a free society can compete unsuccessfully with a totalitarian society. When the Communists, both Chinese and Russian, are able to mobilize all of the resources to serve the state, when they operate a garrison state, when they are fully mobilized for the cold war, whether we can pursue a free society and pursue our own lives, and yet have sufficient public purpose to maintain our freedom, I think that is the big question that is before the United States, which transcends party differences.

I think it is to that question that the next administration and the next Congress will have to devote itself. How can we survive in a dangerous world and still maintain our freedom? I think we can. I think the free system happens to fit the best with the desires of the people very place [sic]. I think the experience in many ways of Africa in the last three or four years, and the experience of Eastern Europe, gives me the most encouragement, in spite of all the difficulties in the Congo, and that is because of the desire of these people to be free and independent. In the last two or three months we have had eight countries, or more, break away and become independent. We had a tremendous number join the United Nations the other day. In other words, there is a basic, strong passion running through the world to be free and independent. We saw it in East Germany, we saw it in Hungary, we saw it in Poland, and we saw it in Africa. In Eastern Europe it was operating against the Communists. In Africa it was operating against the colonial powers. We have seen it in our own history. We have seen it in Latin America. How can people who desire to be free and independent, who will stop at nothing to gain their own independence, how can they possibly submit themselves to the tyranny of the Communists in the next three or four years? I consider this desire to be independent the strongest force for freedom of our security in the world. We support that cause or at least we should.

One of the real criticisms that I have of the United States foreign policy has been that we have not associated ourselves strongly enough since the end of World War II with this tremendous force which is sweeping the world. I thought we should have in Indochina. I thought we should have in North Africa. I think we should in all of Africa. These people may not be able successfully to maintain the kind of democracy that we have, but their desire to be free is our most valuable weapon. We do not wish to dominate them; the Communists do. Therefore, I look to the future with some trepidation and concern, but also with some hope. I think this is the strong force that I think is going to favor the cause of freedom with which we are intimately associated. I think we need an administration, which is alert to these kinds of changes. When the Congo difficulty began, and I don't know why I am talking about Africa at Sioux City, except this is the kind of problem we will have to deal with, we offered 300 scholarships to the Congo, for young men to come over here, even though there are less than 15 college graduates in all of the Congo, to operate a free society. Why should we suddenly offer 300 scholarships to the Congo when we have not offered nearly that number to all of Africa? We do it in the point of turmoil. Proposals are made for the relief of Latin America because of our difficulties with Castro; proposals are made for aid to the Congo because of our difficulties with Lumumba. Couldn't we look to the future? Couldn't we look through the veil of tomorrow and make some decision which would make it possible for us to foresee events?

The number of students here from Africa, by the government, number less than 200. There are a number here on private scholarships, many more than that. But it indicates a handful of students from all of these countries where the need is for greater education. I think this administration has not looked to the future and recognized the kind of needs we will have to have in foreign policy.

And what is true of foreign policy is true in domestic policy. Therefore, while I feel these are sophisticated issues, and while people talk about foreign policy and the issue of peace and security, and that is the basic issue, nevertheless, to get peace, to get security, I think we have to have an administration with imagination, and with a consuming interest in the problems that face us.

I hope that if we are successful - and it is not, as I said before, a fight merely between Mr. Nixon and myself, we lead two parties, two forces, two sources of energy. I happen to think that the Democratic Party has the kind of vitality, curiosity, that attracts people who happen to have new ideas and be associated with the future. It always has.

If you are a standpatter, you don't join the Democratic Party; you go over to the Republican Party. And they have, for the last 100 years, since Lincoln's death, with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt. But if you look to the future, if you have concern, if you have a vague sense of satisfaction with what is going on and a feeling we can do better, I think you should be with our party, whether it is the agricultural policy in this country, whether it is the needs of the State of Iowa, whether it is the problems facing the United States, I happen to think that the Democratic Party has a contribution to make in the Sixties.

Your presence here indicates that you feel the same I think Iowa and this district, this state, are gifted with exceptional candidates. Governor Loveless' record is known. I have no doubt he is going to be successful. Mr. McManus has been an exceptional young figure who has come out of the state, and I think he will carry on strong. Mr. O'Brien, I think, will speak strongly for this district and the country. And I hope that if I am elected I will speak for this district, Iowa, the United States, and the course of freedom.

Thank you. (Standing ovation)

courtesy the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum


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