Today in History, March 14, 1967:
“It was so magnificent I could stay forever”.
The Spring before his assassination, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy toured Arlington National Cemetery. He made the above comment while standing at the Custis-Lee Mansion, where Gen. Robert E. Lee had lived prior to the Civil War. I’ve been there, and can understand his feelings…it is a beautiful view. Unfortunately he would “stay forever” there far too soon. This is the site of his final resting place, marked by an eternal flame, where he was moved to on this date in 1967.
Today in History, November 22, 1963:
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Thanksgiving must have been miserable in ’63.
This being the 55th anniversary of that terrible event, the coverage has been immense, so there isn’t much I could add about the event itself. And I would just as soon not mention the person who took JFK from us. So…a little history about JFK that not everyone may know.
To say that JFK came from a political family is an understatement. In the latter part of the nineteen century and early of the twentieth, both of his grandfathers were rivals in Massachusetts politics. John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald rose from a Boston shopkeeper’s son to be Mayor, a US Representative and political boss, and was none to happy when PJ Kennedy’s son Joseph began courting his daughter Rose. PJ served in the Mass House and Senate and was also a political mover and shaker.
Nonetheless, Honey Fitz loved the many resulting grandchildren, doting on his namesake, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
JFK’s father rose in politics as well, making note as an Irish Catholic appointed to Ambassador to England for FDR. Joe brought his children with him, and JFK watched the German bombing of England first hand. Joe was a controversial isolationist and did not have FDR’s trust.
During his senior year at Harvard JFK would write a thesis called “Why England Slept” about England’s pre-war actions. Joe would see this published, although it didn’t win a Pulitzer like the 1957 “Profiles in Courage” by JFK…which Joe also made sure was acclaimed.
JFK’s older brother Joe was being groomed for high political office, but was killed in WWII while piloting a B-24 Liberator on a dangerous mission over Europe. So the mantle fell to “Jack”, also a war hero for his exploits in the Pacific Theater.
Today in History, August 1-2, 1943:
PT-109 (Patrol Torpedo) is patrolling Blackett Strait in the Solomon Islands when it is rammed and cut in half by Japanese Destroyer Amagiri.
Two of the crew are killed outright, but 11 others survive, although some are badly injured/burned. Their very young commander carried one of the injured on his back in the mile + swim to a nearby island. He then took turns with the boat’s exec swimming back out into the channel attempting to signal other PT’s at night while avoiding Japanese patrols.
Finally they were rescued thanks to natives working for an Australian coast watcher. Lt. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who could have easily sat out the war due to his wealth, displayed incredible courage and loyalty to his crew.
One question not asked in the propaganda of his Presidential campaign was, how does a craft that is basically a speedboat, navigated by an experienced sailor, get rammed by a slow moving man-of-war? That aside, nobody can deny President Kennedy’s courage.
Today in History, June 11, 1963:
“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Democrat Governor of Alabama George Wallace stands in a door way of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in an attempt to prevent the enrollment of two African-Americans as students.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy had Federalized the Alabama National Guard to ensure that the enrollment occurred. American politics are often more nuanced that we realize. Wallace would run for President 4 times without success.