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Archive for the month “November, 2010”


On November 29, 1961, President John F. Kennedy held a press conference in the State Department Auditorium in Washington, D.C.  JFK was the first President to hold “live” televised press conferences.  Presidents before had held the conferences with the press in the privacy of their office & anything said that was “off the record” was not permitted to be published.  JFK’s conferences were not “staged”.  That is, he did not know what specific questions would be asked.  This allowed him to “think on his feet” and often his wit came into play with his answers.  The press conferences were always televised.

Also, on November 29, 1961, the President attended the swearing in ceremony of the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John McCone.


On November 28, 1961, JFK pinned the National Security Medal on outgoing CIA director Allen W. Dulles at the CIA Headquarters.  Dulles served as CIA Director during the failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba on April 17, 1961.  JFK had signed on to the Eisenhower directed plan to use Cuban refugees trained by the CIA to overthrow Communist dictator Fidel Castro.  Although JFK accepted personal responsibility for the failure, privately he blamed the CIA*.  

After JFK’s death in November 1963, the new President,  Lyndon Johnson, appointed Dulles to serve on the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination.  Dulles died of natural causes in 1969.

*On the Nixon “Watergate” tapes there is a conversation among Nixon and his aides in which he says: “If this thing about the Bay of Pigs comes out, it will blow the lid off everything.”  As far as I have been able to learn, no one knows what he meant by this statement.  I personally asked Howard Baker, who was Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate, if he knew what Nixon meant.  His answer: “I don’t know and I think that it may be good that I don’t.”


Former Secret Service Agents Recount JFK Assassination

CSPAN: 11/28/2010 11-12pm

Two former Secret Service agents, Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill, join Q&A this week. Both men were present on the day that President Kennedy was assassinated and Clint Hill was the agent who jumped onto the trunk of the motorcade seconds after Kennedy was shot. During the interview, they recall the day’s horrific events, conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination and the day-to-day aspects of their lives after the Secret Service.

Mr. Blaine recently authored a new book, “The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence,” with Clint Hill adding the prologue, as well as giving interviews for the book’s content.


November 25, 1961

 JFK enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday at Hyannis Port with his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.. This would be the last Thanksgiving Joe Kennedy was healthy. 

In December, Joe Sr. suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed & unable to walk, talk or care for himself.

Joe Kennedy, Sr. was in intensive care at St. Mary’s Hospital in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Some years ago, I had an intern who lived in Morristown, TN. A neighbor of hers was visiting St. Mary’s when JFK’s father was there. 

When JFK emerged from the hospital, she asked if she could make a photograph. The President consented and she made his picture. 

That evening she realized she had forgotten to put film in the camera. So the next day she was back at the hospital once again as was the President. Once again, she asked if she could take his photograph explaining that she did not have film in the camera the day before. JFK graciously took the time to let her try it again.

My intern was able to get a copy of the photograph for me. JFK is standing alone in front of his white Lincoln convertible with its top down. He is dressed casually and the photograph is in color. JFK is smiling, of course, and what is notable to me about the photo is it looks just like any color photo that you would have made of a family member back in 1961. It does not have that “professional” look and that’s what makes it unique.

How many Presidents, or for that matter, “important” people, would take their time to let a total stranger make his photograph, not just once, but twice? I think it shows how caring a person JFK was.

I am reading now in “The Kennedy Detail” how secret service agents experienced the same concern from the man they were guarding. 

In Palm Beach, he would go out to the agents standing in the sun on the beach & give some of his short sleeve shirts to them because he thought they looked uncomfortable.

 As he was heading out of his Georgetown home on his way to the 1961 Inaugural, he asked a secret service agent to step inside for a few minutes to warm up.


On November 23, 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s body was returned to the White House.  The body had been under autopsy at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.  The body was carried in a white ambulance and the casket was covered with an American flag. 

Inside the White House, the casket was placed in the center of the East Room which had been decorated in black per Ms. Kennedy’s wishes.

All day, Saturday, government employees,  friends and relatives paid their respects as the body lie in state. 

Meanwhile in Dallas, suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was being held in Dallas City Jail.  He was charged with the murders of President Kennedy and Dallas Police office J.D. Tippit.



Above is the link to the page on my freewebsite dealing with the events of November 22, 1963.

The text follows here:

On Nov 22, 1963, JFK & Jackie visited Texas.  JFK gave a speech outside the Hotel Texas in Ft Worth, then he & his wife attended a breakfast given by the Ft. Worth Chamber of Commerce.  They made the short flight to Dallas Love Field where they landed at 11:37 a.m.
       The Kennedys shook hands with people who had come out to see them at the airport.  They then boarded the Presidential car along with Texas Governor John Connally & his wife Nellie.  The motorcade stopped in route to the Trade Mart, where the President was to give a luncheon address, so JFK could shake hands with people.

       At 12:30 p.m., the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza as it made a right turn from Main to Houston Street & then left to Elm Street.  As the they headed down Elm passing the Texas School Book Depository, shots rang out. Both JFK & Governor Connally were hit by the gunfire. The Governor screamed out ‘They are going to kill us all!’

       JFK & John Connally were taken to Parkland Hospital.  At 1:00 p.m. JFK was pronounced dead as a result of a ‘gunshot wound to the brain.’  Governor Connally went into surgery & later recovered from his wounds.

       The body was placed on Air Force One where Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President.  The plane returned to Washington.  JFK’s autopsy was performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital & the body returned to the White House early on the morning of November 23.

       JFK’s casket was placed in the East Room & on Nov 24 moved to the Capitol Rotunda to lie in state.  It was carried on a caisson pulled by six white horses. More than 250,000 people filed past the closed casket.  On Monday, JFK’s funeral service was conducted at St. Matthew’s Cathedral by Cardinal Cushing of Boston.  JFK was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Jackie, Bobby & Teddy lit the ‘Eternal Flame’ to mark the grave.


On November 21, 1963, JFK & Mrs. Kennedy departed Andrews AFB for Texas.

The 1st stop was San Antonio where JFK gave the dedication speech of the Aerospace Medical Health Center at Brooks AFB.

The next stop was Houston where JFK gave a speech to honor Texas Congressman Albert Thomas.

JFK said:

“Next month, when the United States of America fires the largest booster in the history of the world for the first time, (it will give) us the lead. Our leadership in space could not have been achieved without Congressman Albert Thomas.”


November 20, 1962


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order #11063 today requiring an end to discrimination in federally funded housing.

The order prohibits agencies from denying housing or funding for housing based on race, color, creed or national origin.

JFK’s action comes at a time when minorities are often denied home loans & are forced to live in poor conditions in the inner-city.

In issuing this order JFK said that such discrimination is:

“unfair, unjust & inconsistent with the right to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.”*

*Unfortunately, this order was not enforced because it allowed agencies involved in federal housing to police themselves.

 A “Fair Housing” law would be passed & signed by JFK’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1968.


On November 19, 1961, President Kennedy attended Mass at Good Shepard Church with David Powers.  Afterward, they went to the home of Peter Lawford in Santa Monica, California for lunch.

Lawford was JFK’s brother-in-law who had married JFK’s sister, Patricia, in 1954.  Frank Sinatra often called Peter the “brother-in-Lawford”. 

Actress Angie Dickinson also attended this luncheon.


On November 18, 1961 both JFK & VP Lyndon Johnson attended the funeral of Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn who was sometimes called “Mr. Sam”. 

The funeral service was held in Bonham, Texas.

Ironically, it was Mr. Sam who had recognized Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr. at the 1956 Democratic Convention when JFK was making a bid to be the Vice-Presidential running mate of Adlai Stevenson.  

In recognizing Gore, JFK’s near victory turned to defeat when Gore announced he was switching his support from Kennedy to fellow Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver.  

The Stevenson-Kefauver ticket was soundly defeated by Eisenhower-Nixon & JFK became the front runner for the 1960 Democratic Presidential nomination.

When I visited Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life in 1962, my Dad & Uncle took me along to meet Senator Kefauver.  I remember him being a very tall man.  I, of course, really wanted to meet the President & when I got a chance to speak, said so.  I still remember the look on Kefauver’s face.

I learned years later why the Senator might have been somewhat irritated by my interest in JFK.  I guess I had just assumed all Democrats loved one another.  I also met Senator Gore in 1966 on my second visit to Washington.

I was taking my Uncle Jim, newly arrived from Australia, to the Senator’s office to get passes for the US Senate when in the hall way a side door popped open & out stepped Senator Gore wearing a tie with kangaroos on it. 

I went up to him & told him I was from Tennessee & that my uncle was from Australia.  He told us he had just returned from a trip there & that’s why he was wearing the kangaroo tie.  

After the funeral service, JFK flew to LA where he attended a dinner given in his honor by Southern California Democrats.  Also attending the dinner were singers Frank Sinatra & Nat King Cole.


On November 17, 1962, President Kennedy attended the dedication of Dulles International Airport named in honor of President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles.

The airport is located in Reston, Virginia.

A photograph of Dulles International Airport follows below along with Presidents Eisenhower & Kennedy viewing a large bust of Dulles at the airport during the dedication ceremonies.

After the ceremonies,  JFK went to the Presidential retreat called “Glen Ora” in Middleburg, Virginia.

On November 17, 1863, the siege of the city of Knoxville, Tennessee began led by Confederate General James Longstreet.  

The city had 1st been occupied by rebel troops in 1861, but in early 1863, the city was occupied by US troops under Ambrose E. Burnside.  The siege would climax with the Battle of Knoxville. 

Longstreet attempted to take Fort Sanders but was unsuccessful.  Knoxville remained in Union hands for the duration of the Civil War. 

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