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February 17, 2012


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on Chapter 15 of Chris Matthews’ new book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, published by Simon & Schuster.

The title of Chapter 15 is GOALS.

Chris continues his description of JFK’s 1963 visit to West Berlin.

He tells us that 2/3 of the German city’s population turned out for JFK’s motorcade & 300,000 gathered in Rudolph Wilde Platz to hear him speak.

Chris writes, & this reminds me of why I like Chris Matthews so much, that President Kennedy’s speech that day was “the greatest of the Cold War.”

While I have heard that speech many times over the years, I haven’t really considered how JFK felt when he looked at the Berlin Wall.

Chris quotes Time Magazine’s Hugh Sidey who said that the President looked:

“like a man who has just glimpsed Hell.”

JFK at the Berlin Wall, June 26, 1963, Photo by Robert Knudsen, JFK Library Photo

After Germany, Air Force One took JFK to the land of his ancestors, Ireland.

He would become the 1st President of the United States to visit that country during his term of office.

JFK & his party visited Dunganstown, Galway & New Ross.*

JFK in Ireland, June 27, 1963, Photo by Robert Knudsen, JFK Library Photo

*Please check out more on JFK’s visit to Ireland, see LABELS.

Then JFK traveled to the United Kingdom, where he paid a visit to Derbyshire & the grave of his sister, Kathleen.

Chris tells us that he carried “some flowers….& prayed.”

Grave of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, Photo by Diane, S. Yorkshire, U.K. (2011)

**The plaque on the ground says JFK visited here in 1963. 

Thanks to Diane for permission to use this photo on JFK+50.

Please visit her great blog at


As JFK concluded his triumphal European trip, Averell Harriman was in negotiations with Nikita Khrushchev on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The Soviet premier told Harriman that JFK’s speech at American University had “paved the way” for the treaty.

The ban on nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space & underwater became official on July 25, 1963.

As we have stated before on JFK+50, Chris reminds us again that President Kennedy “considered this his greatest achievement.”

That achievement was tempered by personal tragedy for the Kennedys in early August when their son, Patrick Bouvier, born 5 weeks premature, died.

Chris does a beautiful job of writing this.  It is very hard for me to read it without tears coming to my eyes.

“(Patrick’s) father held his tiny fingers for two hours as the infant tried to breathe.  He was holding them when Patrick died.”

JFK said: “He put up quite a fight. He was a beautiful baby.”

Grave of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery, Photo by Wknight94 (2011)



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