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JFK 51st Anniversary

Barry Keane

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Commemorative Address on the

51st Anniversary of the Death of

President John F. Kennedy

Read by Barry Keane, DPUK Vice-Chairman

at the Kennedy Memorial London

November 22nd 2014

We are here to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, but there are some who say, after more than 50 years, that it’s time to consign President Kennedy to history, time to lay the controversy surrounding his assassination to rest. For we will never know the truth about his death; so does it really matter now? I believe it does and the truth will be revealed, it must, for we owe it to JFK’s memory.

The world is very different from what it was in the early 1960’s; but the ideals and sentiments that John F. Kennedy stood for are still relevant 51 years after his death and indeed for all time.

Mankind seems to be destined to forget the lessons that history teaches us, and we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past. President Kennedy believed this did not have to be the case.

On June 10th 1963, at the American University in Washington, John F. Kennedy gave what was perhaps his finest speech, possibly the finest any leader has given. He spoke a few months after the world stood at the brink of nuclear war.

His topic was world peace, not as an abstract concept, but genuine peace, the kind of peace which makes life on earth worth living.

Among the words he used were a few lines which are rich in their simplicity as well as their significance.

Speaking about the animosity between nations, he said:-

“…… let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved, and if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help 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 futures. And we are all mortal.”

President Kennedy’s own mortality became only too apparent a few months after he expressed those sentiments. But his words and his ideals are immortal.

I believe the speech he gave on that day should be compulsive reading for all the world’s leaders.

President Kennedy died before his time, but his ideals and vision of peace did not die with him. We, and future generations are the heirs to his legacy, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that those ideals and vision are realized and that his tragic death was not in vain.

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