In response to my question on Wednesday, a reader sent this video. (H/T David)
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.’
Fifty one years before President Obama normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba, President John F. Kennedy was thinking of doing the same. To start the negotiations, Obama sent one of his aides, Ben Rhodes, to talk to the Cuban government.
Likewise in the fall of 1963, JFK authorized a U.S.diplomat, Bill Attwood, to make contact with Cuban representatives to discuss the outlines of an agreement between the two countries.
In a new document collection, Cuba – United States Secret Diplomacy Documents (1961-1977), published by Paperless Archives, you can follow how JFK’s pursuit of peace with Cuba, right up to the moment he was assassinated.
After JFK was dead, LBJ had no interest and the initiative died. It would take a half century before JFK’s goal was achieved.
“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.”
“… 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
The young Bill Clinton shook President Kennedy’s hand on July 24, 1963.
On January 17, 1964, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel of the Warren Commission, on the evidence compiled as Commission Document 295: four letters postmarked in Havana that suggested or alleged that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a contract killing undertaken by Lee Harvey Oswald under the direction of an agent for Fidel Castro named Pedro Charles.
Hoover concluded it was “some type of hoax, possibly on the part of some anti-Castro group,” since the FBI Crime Lab found that the same Remington No. 10 typewriter had been used to prepare all four letters:
A faithful reader sent a link to a telling new story about the CIA in Miami in the 1960s when the presence of one of the largest CIA stations in the world was an open secret — yet officially unknown.
From historian Michael Beschloss, a glimpse of John F. Kennedy at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day 1963, one day after his last birthday.
The Washington Post reported:
“President Kennedy led the memorial observances by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. He was accompanied by his two-year-old son John Jr. who held tightly to the hand of a Secret Service agent.”
JFK was standing where he would be buried six months later.
Diplomatic historian David Kaiser, the author of a new and well-reviewed book about World War II, took time out from flogging it to respond to John Simkin’s post on JFK’s Cuba policy, CIA looped in on Castro peace feelers.
Kaiser, author of The Road to Dallas, says the argument that JFK was a dove on Cuba is overdrawn. He dismisses the idea that Kennedy’s evolving Cuba policy fatally alienated the CIA.
“The secret negotiations that took place between the JFK administration and the Cuban government could be significant issue in the JFK assassination.
“A key figure in this was Lisa Howard.
One of the very best JFK document researchers recently called attention to two important JFK documents from 1963. They both concern President Kennedy’s exploration of normalizing relations with Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba.
Are the memos relevant to story of JFK’s assassination ? You be the judge.