for once the battle is lost, once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. and once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.
. there your children"s lives will be shaped. our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination. we are still far from that goal. today,8million adult americans, more than the entire population of , have not finished5years of school. nearly20 million have not finished8years of school. nearly54million -- more than one quarter of all have not even finished high school.
each year more than100,000 high school graduates, with proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. and if we cannot educate today"s youth, what will we do in1970 when elementary school enrollment will be5million greater than1960? and high school enrollment will rise by5million. and college enrollment will increase by more than3million.
but more classrooms and more teachers are not enough. we must seek an educational system which grows in excellence as it grows in size. this means better training for our teachers. it means preparing youth to enjoy their hours of leisure as well as their hours of labor. it means exploring new techniques of teaching, to find new ways to stimulate the love of learning and the capacity for creation.
i intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of white house conferences and meetings -- on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. and from these meetings and from this inspiration and from these studies we will begin to set our course toward the great society.
nor can it rely solely on the strained resources of local authority. they require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism, between the national capital and the leaders of local communities.
within your lifetime powerful forces, already loosed, will take us toward a way of life beyond the realm of our experience, almost beyond the bounds of our imagination.
toward a new age. you have the chance never before afforded to any people in any age. you can help build a society where the demands of morality, and the needs of the spirit, can be realized in the life of the nation.
will you join in the battle to give every citizen the full equality which god enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin?
will you join in the battle to build the great society, to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit?
those who came to this land sought to build more than just a new country. they sought a new world. so i have come here today to your campus to say that you can make their vision our reality. so let us from this moment begin our work so that in the future men will look back and say: it was then, after a long and weary way, that man turned the exploits of his genius to the full enrichment of his life.