Remarks by Caroline B. Kennedy in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of USAID

Thursday, November 3, 2011
50th Anniversary Celebration of USAID

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be here today -- both to speak about the important work that USAID has done in the last 50 years; and to speak with those of you who are carrying out the agency's singular and vital mission.

Fifty years ago, my father explained his vision for foreign aid and for USAID in an address here in Washington. I'd like to share a part of his speech, because I know you live these words every day.

"There is no work in which you could be engaged in these days? " he said referring to foreign assistance efforts," that is more important to the welfare of your country, to the security of the cause of freedom…

"…There is no work, probably, more thankless. There is no work, that may be less appreciated… but I hope the very fact that all those matters may be true, gives you a sense of satisfaction.

"…The easy work and the popular work," he said, "can be left to many hands. But this work requires the effort of committed and dedicated citizens."

To me, my father's greatest legacy is the people he inspired. They have transformed our country and passed on his vision and his ideal to new generations at home and around the world. Each one of you and all of those that came before you and every person that you touch answers his call to service and the world is better off because of you.

USAID staff and workers in the field are the face of America in the global community. You share a unique set of characteristics - personal courage, the inability to tolerate human suffering, the compulsion to act in the face of injustice, and an unshakable conviction that problems can be solved. That same conviction inspired my father to create this remarkable agency.

The work done by USAID has spared children from diseases like HIV and malaria, made it possible for more mothers to survive childbirth, and delivered families from hunger and poverty. In performing your mission relentlessly, compassionately and selflessly, you have saved and improved the lives of millions of people around the globe.

Because of you, this 50th anniversary is more than just a milestone - it's a celebration of 50 years of progress and achievement. My father would have been so proud of you and USAID. And for that I am truly grateful.

Thank you for having me hear this morning.

It is with that sentiment that I have the honor of presenting USAID's commemorative video marking 50 years of progress.

Washington, DC

Last updated: May 30, 2012

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