President Kennedy’s growth as a leader in June 1963 is a key to understanding his life and death.
As Arms Control Today documented last year, JFK’s June 10 speech at American University would influence the arms control vision all of the U.S. presidents who followed him. And as this New York Times column notes, his often-overlooked nationally televised address on June 11, 1963, signaled his evolution as a civil rights leader.
President Kennedy’s speech to the graduating class of American University in Washington DC 51 years ago today represented the high point of his efforts to wind down the Cold War. His vigorous style and clear mind never had a more important goal — or more powerful enemies.
Today is the birthday of Harry Truman and a fitting day to remember what he wrote in response to the assassination of President Kennedy.
“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote Truman in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963, the one-month anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.
“It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.”
Ron Capshaw, a writer in Midlothian, Virginia, argued here two years ago that Lee Oswald had fired a rifle shot at former U.S. Army General Edwin Walker on April 10, 1963. Walker, cashiered for proselytizing troops with his right-wing, white supremacist politics, was a harsh critic of JFK.
… when you are told you have been charged with killing the president of the United States of America.
In response to my question on Wednesday, a reader sent this video. (H/T David)
JFK speaks to the UN on Sept. 20, 1963. (UN photo credit, Teddy Chen.)
Yes. It happened on September 20, 1963, according to History.com. It is one of the lesser known but more important events in the last months of President Kennedy’s life and presidency.
In the fall of 1963, JFK was on a political roll. His approval ratings had climbed. He had overcome the grumbling of the Pentagon and all but secured Senate ratification of the popular Limited Test Ban Treaty, banning nuclear explosions in space. Then he went to New York to say something daring.
A new book, Two Days in June, calls attention to the JFK’s supremely important and still relevant speech at American University on June 10, 1963, in which he asked Americans to rethink ‘peace.’
“Everything is changed. Everything is going to change. The United States occupies such a position in world affairs that the death of a President of that country affects millions of people in every corner of the globe. The cold war, relations with Russia, Latin America, Cuba, the Negro question… all will have to be rethought. I’ll tell you one thing: at least Kennedy was an enemy to whom we had become accustomed. This is a serious matter, an extremely serious matter.”
via Fidel Castro Reaction to Kennedy Assassination in Cuba | New Republic.
“… one of the most zealous of the anti-Communist crusaders who turned the agency into an enormous, squid-like meddler in global affairs.”
via Luke Menand in the New Yorker: “When the Cold War Made Georgetown Hot.”
“Former WFAA-Radio Program Director Pierce Allman had no assignment to cover President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963. At the last minute, Allman decided to walk to nearby Dealey Plaza to see the presidential motorcade. Read more
The Warren Commission didn’t get scared if Fidel Castro because of Lyndon B. Johnson’s chilling warning to Chief Justice Earl Warren about rumors that “if not quenched, could conceivably lead the country into a war which could cost 40 million lives.” Read more
From JFK Lancer, a recording of radio program broadcast by WDSU radio in New Orleans on August 20, 1963.
▶ Lee H. Oswald debates the Cuba issue with anti-communist activist Ed Butler, and anti-Castro militant Carlos Bringuier of Cuban Student Directorate (DRE)
Bringuier is an important witness, and the CIA-sponsored DRE, is significant. But recently it is Butler’s role in this debate that holds my interest. Read more
The young Bill Clinton shook President Kennedy’s hand on July 24, 1963.