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July 17, 2012


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report of Chapter 12 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy.  It is published by Little, Brown & Company.



The title of Chapter 12 is “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye”


Kenneth O’Donnell discusses JFK’s speech in June 1963 at the commencement exercises of American University in Washington, D.C.


Kenny describes it as “the most important foreign policy speech of his career & probably one of the best speaking performances of his lifetime.”


He says that Jackie told him that it was “one of the President’s 3 best speeches, along with the inaugural address &….West Berlin.”


In the commencement address, JFK called for a “lasting peace between the United States & the Soviet Union.”


Kenny includes this quote from the speech:


‘All we have built….would be destroyed in the 1st 24 hours (of a nuclear war). We are….caught up in a vicious & dangerous cycle in which suspicion….& new weapons beget counterweapons.


If we cannot now end our differences, we can at least make the world safe for diversity.  For in the final analysis our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.’


Kenny goes on to point out that Premier Khrushchev, to whom the speech was directed, told Averell Harriman later “that it was the best speech delivered by any American President since FDR.”


JFK Speaking at American University, June 10, 1963, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image



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