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20 January 2011

On this day in history: John F. Kennedy inaugurated as President, 1961

During the night before the inauguration of the thirty-fifth President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, heavy snow fell on Washington D.C. Nevertheless, on the morning of 20th January 1961, snow ploughs and gangs of workers cleared the processional route so that the ceremony could go ahead. Meanwhile, Kennedy attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown before joining President Eisenhower to travel in procession to the Capitol.

Hundreds of thousands of people watched as Cardinal Cushing of Boston delivered the Invocation prayer, the first time a Roman Catholic had done so. The eighty-six year old poet Robert Frost intended to read a poem he had written for especially for the occasion called Dedication, but the glare of the sun prevented him from doing so. Instead he recited another of his poems, The Gift Outright, from memory.

Following the swearing in of Vice President Johnson by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the presidential oath of office to Kennedy. The youngest ever President of the United States then delivered his inaugural address. After giving his address, Kennedy processed to the White House where he witnessed a parade, which had peace as its central motif.

Newsreel footage of Kennedy's inauguration

The full text of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address is available on Wikisource.

Related posts
Bay of Pigs: 17th April 1961
Bobby Kennedy assassinated: 5th June 1968
Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis: 20th October 1968
Nixon won presidential election: 5th November 1968


Con Artist Trickster said...

It's just so sad to see what happened to him afterward, and that he served in such a short period of time. He had a big and honorable dream for America, which I'm sure will change the overall condition of the world.
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK, White House, 1962

Stepterix said...

JFK certainly looms large over recent US history even though, as you noted, he only served a short while as president.

Doug in Missoula said...

I was in the Eighth Grade. First time I worked in a Presidential campaign. Wow! 50 years ago. I posted a link to this post on my Facebook Page, for others to enjoy.

Stepterix said...

Doug: Thanks for sharing this post with your friends.