Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the month “September, 2012”



Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today, celebrated as Gold Star Mother’s Day in the United States, is also honored in the state of Tennessee this year by a proclamation issued by Governor Bill Haslam.*

The proclamation was presented on September 22, 2012 to the Volunteer Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers at the American Legion Post 2 here in Knoxville. 

The chapter represents mothers living in Knox County & surrounding counties of eastern Tennessee who have sons and daughters who lost their lives while on active duty in the armed services of the United States.

Source:  Knoxville News-Sentinel, Sept 29, 2012

*William Edward “Bill” Haslam, born in Knoxville, Tn. in 1958, is the 49th Governor of the state of Tennessee.  He is the son of Jim Haslam, founder of Pilot Oil Corporation.  Before being elected governor, Bill Haslam was May of Knoxville, 2003-2011.


Jennifer White & Bill Haslam, Haslam Campaign HQs, Johnson City, Tennessee, 2010


Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed nationally on the last Sunday in September.

The President of the United States calls on Americans to display, on this day, the American flag & to publicly express their “love, sorrow & reverence” toward Gold Star Mothers & their families.

The name, “Gold Star Mothers,” comes from the custom of families of American service men & women displaying a service flag in the front window of their homes.

A BLUE STAR represented a family member in active service, but this was changed to a GOLD STAR if that son or daughter lost their lives in the service of the United States.

The Gold Star Mother’s Organization was formed in 1928 & Gold Star Mother’s Day was established by Congress on June 23, 1936.


Gold Star Mothers Memorial, Ocala, Florida, Photo by Mark L. Pearcy, 2010


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy, Democratic candidate for the 11th District seat in the United States Congress, addressed a group of Gold Star Mothers today.

The young candidate spoke on the war & its impact on the families of men & women in service.

Near the end of his speech, Mr. Kennedy spoke from personal experience when he said:

“I think I know how you mothers must feel because my mother’s a Gold Star Mother too.”**

**Rose Kennedy lost her first born son, JFK’s brother, Joseph P. “Joe” Kennedy, Jr. during World War II.  In 1946, JFK was elected to Congress & sworn in, January 1947.


World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo by John White, 2011




Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) On September 26, 1960,  Richard M. Nixon, Vice-President & Republican nominee for President of the United States, said in his opening remarks in the 1st debate of the presidential campaign that he agrees with Senator John F. Kennedy’s goals but not with the means his Democratic opponent would use to achieve them.

In his opening remarks following those of Senator Kennedy, Mr. Nixon said:

“The things that Senator Kennedy has said many of us can agree with.  There is no question but that this nation cannot stand still…& I subscribe completely to the spirit that (he) has expressed tonight, the spirit that the U.S. shall move ahead.”


The Vice-President then asked this question:


“Where, then do we disagree?”


His answer:


“I think we disagree on the implication…that the United States has been standing still.”


The Republican nominee then gave some statistics to back up his claim.


Mr. Nixon said that the U.S. has built more schools during the Eisenhower administration “than we built….in the previous 20 years.”


He said also that we have produced more hydo-electric power than…in any previous administration in history.


The Vice-President boasted also that “we have built more hospitals (&) highways…”


In regard to social programs, Mr. Nixon said:


“Both of us want to help the old people.  We want to see that they do have adequate medical care.”




Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) Last night, September 26, 1960,  Senator John F. Kennedy said in his opening remarks in the first debate of the presidential campaign that he is not satisfied “as an American” with the progress that is being made in the United States.

The Democratic standard bearer said:

“This is a great country, but I think it could be a greater country, & this is a powerful country, but I think it could be more powerful.”


The Senator continued….

“I’m not satisfied when the United States had, last year, the lowest rate of economic growth of any major industrialized society in the world.”

JFK went on to say that this is significant “because economic growth means strength & vitality.”

In his introductory remarks, going before Vice-President Richard M. Nixon,

Senator Kennedy added:

“I know there are those who want to turn everything over to the government.  I don’t at all.

I want individuals to meet their responsibilities & I want the states to meet theirs….but I think there is also a national responsibility.”

Mr. Kennedy concluded his introduction, which was being televised nationally, by saying:

“I don’t believe in big government, but I believe in effective governmental action.

In 1933, FDR said this generation has a rendezvous with destiny.

I think our generation has the same rendezvous.

I think its time America started moving again.”



Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) Today, September 26, 2012, is the 52nd anniversary of the 1st televised debate between Senator John F. Kennedy & -Vice-President Richard M. Nixon during the presidential campaign of 1960.

This event proved to be a game changer.  Many say it proved to be the turning point in the campaign which resulted in a narrow victory for the young senator from Massachusetts.


Two years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the 1st debate, Kayla Webley of Time Magazine published an article titled: ‘How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World.’

Ms. Webley begins her article with these words:

“On the morning of September 26, 1960, John F. Kennedy was a relatively unknown senator from Massachusetts.  He was young & Catholic….& facing off against an incumbent.  But by the end of the evening, he was a star.”

She goes on to tell us that the 1st debate “fundamentally altered” campaigns as well as television & the political history of the nation.

She quotes Alan Schroeder, professor at Northeastern University:

“It’s one of those unusual points on the timeline of history where you can say things changed very dramatically…in a single night.”

74 million people tuned in to the 1st debate & most believed JFK was the clear winner.

Ms. Webley also quotes Larry Sabato, author of ‘The Kennedy Half-Century’:

“Before the television debates, most Americans didn’t even see the candidates…they read about them (&) saw photos of them.”*


*The 1st debate was televised from CBS Studios in Chicago, Illinois.  It was broadcast live on CBS, ABC & NBC television networks.  Howard K. Smith was the narrator.  Questioners were Stuart Novins, Sander Vanocur & Charles Warren.



Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) In July 1962, President John F. Kennedy had an audio recording system installed in the Oval Office & Cabinet Room of the White House.

The purpose of this recording system was, according to the JFK Library, “to preserve an accurate record of Presidential decision making in a highly charged atmosphere of conflicting viewpoints, strategies & tactics.”

A book titled “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” which includes 2 audio CDs, went on sale today.


The book, published by Hyperion, includes a Foreward by Caroline Kennedy.  

The excerpts from 265 hours of original tape recordings were selected by historian Ted Widmer* in conjunction with the JFK Library in Boston.

*Ted Widmer, born in 1963, earned a PhD in history of American civilization at Harvard.  He served as a speech writer & special assistant for national security affairs under President Clinton.  He is director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.


Tedd Widmer, Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY SA30

The book & CDs are made available in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the installation of the recording system.

After JFK’s death the tapes were kept in the custody of Evelyn Lincoln, the President’s personal secretary, before being transferred to the Kennedy Library.

The book, with CDs, sells for $40.

According to the Hyperion website, “Just as the unique vision of President John F. Kennedy continues to resonate half a century after his stirring speeches & bold policy decisions, the documentary candor of Listening In imparts a vivid, breathtaking immediacy that will significantly expand our understanding of his time in office.”



Hollywood, California (JFK+50) On September 23, 1952, Senator Richard M. Nixon gave the speech that is said to have saved his political career.


It was during the 1952 Presidential election campaign when Mr. Nixon was on the Republican ticket as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate.


The California senator had been accused of taking $18,000 in campaign funds for his personal use.


Nixon decided to make an appeal directly to the American people via television & radio.  He spoke from the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.


During the 30 minute talk, in which Nixon denied the charge, because he referred to his daughters’ black & white cocker spaniel dog named ‘Checkers’, it became known as the “Checkers” speech.



Senator Nixon said:


“The kids, like all kids, love the dog & I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re going to keep it.”


And in regard to the charges, Nixon said:


“Not one cent…went for my personal use.  Every penny…was used for political expenses….”


The Senator backed up his claim by reading a letter from an audit report prepared by CPAs.  It read:


“It is our conclusion that Senator Nixon did not obtain any financial gain from…these funds…”


Mr. Nixon made reference several times during the speech to his wife, Pat, who was sitting nearby.  He said at one point:


“Pat & I have the satisfaction that every dime that we’ve got is honestly ours.  I should say this–that Pat doesn’t have a mink coat.  But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat.  And I always tell her that she’d look good in anything.”



At the close of the speech, which was seen or heard by an audience of 60 million, Nixon asked the American people to help the Republican National Committee decide whether or not he should stay on the ticket.


The RNC was flooded with more than 4 million letters & other communications.  They favored Nixon by 75 to 1.


It made Ike’s decision an easy one.  Eisenhower kept Richard Milhous Nixon as his Vice-Presidential running mate….and the rest is history.





Dallas, Texas (JFK+50) The Dallas Museum of Art announced yesterday that an exhibition of artwork thatwas in the hotel suite at the Hotel Texas where President & Mrs. John F. Kennedy spent their last nighttogether will be presented in May.


The title of the presentation will be: “Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy.”

The announcement of the exhibit was made by DMA director Maxwell Anderson.

Mr. Anderson said the exhibit will open on May 26, 2013 & run through September 15.

Olivier Meslay, also of the DMA, said:

“Our presentation includes new scholarship surrounding the original installation (of the artwork in the presidential suite) & helps further celebrate the Kennedys’ impact on American culture.”


Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, photo provided by KeithJonsn at Wikipedia.com

The exhibit will then be transferred to The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth on October 12 & be on display there through January 12, 2014.

Amon Carter has close ties to the original art display in Suite 850 at the Hotel Texas.


Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Photo by Joe Mabel, 2007


A group of prominent Fort Worth citizens were responsible for quickly putting the collection of art together to decorate the presidential suite.

The exhibition will feature Thomas Eakins painting“Swimming”, Picasso’s bronze “Angry Owl”, & van Gogh’s painting “Road with Peasant Shouldering a Spade”.

Scott Grant Barker, a Texas art historian who researched the events relating to the art in the presidential suite, said:

“It was their ultimate private art show.  When you view these, you’ll be standing in the shoes of John & Jacqueline Kennedy.  You’ll be seeing what they saw.”

Because the President arrived late at the Hotel Texas, they did not notice the works of art until the next morning, November 22, 1963.


“Artwork from JFK’s presidential suite at Hotel Texas to be shown at Dallas Museum of Art in commemoration of 50th anniversary of assassination,” by Michael Granberry, www.artsblog.dallasnews.com.

“Dallas Museum of Art Display’s Artwork from JFK Suite at Hotel Texas,” www.washingtonpost.com

*JFK+50 would like to thank our good friend in Dallas, Denise,  for bringing this art exhibition to our attention.



Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) We absolutely love to get email from visitors to our blog & the one from Jon Perdue this week was a wonderful surprise.

Jon Perdue’s brother, Mark, at the age of 10, wrote a letter to President Kennedy.  The letter was written on March 5, 1963 as St. Patrick’s Day was to be celebrated later that month.


Thinking about the approaching Irish holiday & JFK’s Irish heritage, young Mark sat down & wrote the President of the United States.


Here is the text of that letter.



Dear President Kennedy,


I like you very much. I am in a special class in Fremont, California*.  I am 10 years old.  Where do the little people live?  Do they live under bushes? Do they have horses? Can only the Irish see them? You are an Irishman, can you see them?


Mark Aaron Perdue


On March 14, 1963, JFK wrote the following letter to Mark in reply.**


                     THE WHITE HOUSE


                         Washington, D.C.




                                      March 14, 1963


Dear Mark:


I want to thank you for your nice letter.  I enjoyed hearing from you and hearing about your school.


Your questions are quite pertinent, coming as they do just before St. Patrick’s Day.  There are many legends about the ‘Little People’ but what they all add up to is this.  If you really believe you will see them.


My ‘little people’ are very small, wear tall black stovepipe hats, green coats and pants, and have long white beards.


They do not have horses.  I have never been able to determine where they live.  They are most friendly and their message is that all the peoples of the world should live in peace and friendship.


Since you are interested in the Irish, I want to wish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day.


With every good wish to you and your brothers, Chris and David.



                                      John F. Kennedy

Mr. Mark David Perdue

4670 Porter Street

Fremont, California


*Fremont, named after John C. Fremont, known as the Pathfinder, is located in the SE section of the San Francisco Bay area.  The Apple factory which produced the 1st Mac computer was located here.  By 1999 the city had 750 high technology companies with offices, headquarters or production facilities located there.


**Mark’s brother, Jon David Perdue, said that it was necessary for the family to sell the original letter.  Jon, however, was able to send me the text of the letter as published in their local newspaper at the time.


 I typed the text in the same format of the letters I received from the White House during JFK’s presidency.  One of those letters, written by Evelyn Lincoln, the President’s personal secretary, included a card signed by JFK.  As I have stated before on this blog,  I still have the original letter & autographed White House card.


In addition, Jon Perdue sent me a copy of a newspaper article which appeared in the Sunday Edition of The Daily Review of Hayward, California on March 17, 1963.  Jon also sent me a copy of the photo which accompanied the article & which I have posted below.


The text of the article*** (less the text of Mark’s letter & JFK’s reply) follows:


Little People Query




Fremont — Don’t try to tell 10 year old Mark Perdue that “the little people” don’t exist — you’ll never convince him.


Especially not in view of the fact that Mark has a letter from President Kennedy which assures him that “If you really believe, you will see them.”


Mark, son of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Perdue…..received the letter from the President yesterday in answer to the one he wrote asking about “the little people.”


The youngster, whose mother, Delores, says “is in love with the idea of leprechauns,” really didn’t expect a reply from the President and trembled excitedly as he opened the letter while his two brothers & parents looked on.


“This is really a thrill in my heart,” Mark said. “I really didn’t expect it would get through to the President and he might not have time to read it….but now that he did–I guess I’m about the luckiest kid in this town.”

***Source: Sunday Edition, The Daily Review, Hayward, California. March 17, 1963


                                         Jon David, Mark & Chris Perdue

                                                  Fremont, California

                                                    Photo by Al Silva 

                                                Courtesy of Jon Perdue



Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we pay tribute to the Constitution of the United States of America which was signed in Philadelphia by members of the Constitutional Convention 225 years ago, September 17, 1787.*



*The Constitution was ratified & became the supreme law of the land on June 21, 1788.


“Constitution Day”, established by Congress in 2004, recognizes this event.

It was previously known as “Citizenship Day”, a day of celebration advocated in 1939 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.

In 1953, the Senate passed a resolution establishing September 17-23 as “Constitution Week”.



Tennessee did not become the 16th state until 1796, but a future Tennessean, William Blount (pronounced BLUNT) was a signer of the U.S. Constitution for the state of North Carolina.




Blount, born in North Carolina in 1749, was appointed Governor of the Territory South of the Ohio River by President Washington in 1790.


Blount moved the capital of the territory to KNOXVILLE where he built his home, BLOUNT MANSION, on the banks of the Tennessee River in 1792.


Later elected to the US Senate, Blount was impeached by the House of Representatives, then served in the Tennessee State Legislature.


William Blount died in Knoxville in 1800 & is buried in our city.



In his State of the Union address to Congress on January 11, 1962, President John F. Kennedy said:


“The Constitution makes us not rivals for power  but partners for progress.  We are all trustees for the American people, custodians of the American heritage.”


And in his report to the American people on June 11, 1963, JFK said:


“(Americans of color) have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan** said at the turn of the century.”


“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue (civil rights). It is as old as the scriptures & as clear as the American Constitution.  The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights & equal opportunities.”


**John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) was the only associate judge on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1883 & 1896 to deliver a dissenting opinion to the majority decision that national anti-discrimination laws were unconstitutional & state segregation laws were constitutional.


In the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, Justice Harlan wrote:


“The white race deems itself to be…dominant…but (in) the view of the constitution….there is…no superior, dominant ruling class of citizens.  Our constitution is color-blind, & neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.  In respect of civil rights, ALL CITIZENS ARE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW.”



                                                  John Marshall Harlan

                                                       Associate Justice

                                        United States Supreme Court

                           Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston

                                          Library of Congress Image



The JFK Library Online Store pays tribute to the U.S. Constitution by offering for sale crystal bowls etched with the Preamble.


The bowls, made in the Revere style, are available in 2 sizes.


The small bowl is $116.  The large bowl in $160.






JFK’s The Strategy of Peace IV


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on Chapter 1 of “The Strategy of Peace” written by Senator John F. Kennedy.  The book is published by Harper & Row, New York, 1960.


The title of Chapter I is THE POSSIBILITIES OF PEACE

Senator Kennedy titles Part 4 of Chapter I:  Nuclear Tests

This part of Chapter 1 is the text of JFK’s address at the Student Convocation at UCLA in Los Angeles, California on November 2, 1959.

Senator Kennedy begins by saying that the greatest challenge of a “fast-changing world” is the control of nuclear weapons.

JFK tells the UCLA students that this challenge “is not a simple problem with simple answers.”

He goes on to reject the proposal by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller that the United States should resume nuclear testing.

Since the Soviets had stopped testing at the time of the speech, JFK argues that “our resumption of tests would bring Russian resumption of tests.”

He also expresses concern about how many nations may soon acquire nuclear weapons.

Senator Kennedy makes the following recommendations:

1.The U.S. should announce a continued suspension of all nuclear tests as long as serious negotiations are proceeding & the USSR does not resume testing.

2.The US redouble efforts to achieve a test ban agreement.

3.If we are forced to resume testing by the Russians, those tests should be confined to underground & outer-space in order to prevent further contamination of earth’s atmosphere.

4.We must step up studies of the impact of radioactive fall-out & how to control it.

JFK concludes by saying this course “is full of risks” & will require a greater effort & “more leadership, (&) more moral courage.”

“And if we can master this danger, we will have earned the deep & lasting gratitude, not only of all men, but of all yet to be born–even to the farthest generation.”*

*Also included in this part is the text of a speech JFK made on the same topic in Portland, Oregon on August 1, 1959.

Post Navigation