It was a frigidly cold but sunny Inauguration Day morning that January 20 of 1961… a fierce snow storm had hit the DC area the night before creating chaos. The parade was nearly cancelled… the U.S. Army had to clear the snow-covered streets. Former President Herbert Hoover missed the event because his plane couldn’t fly into DC. The Presidential lectern caught on fire during our Boston Cardinal Cushing’s invocation. Poet Robert Frost’s newly penned poem for the inaugural blew away so he recited one from memory. LBJ fumbled his words during his swearing-in as Vice President. Put the foibles aside. This historic inauguration of the youngest President ever elected and the first Roman Catholic President ever elected stands out in history for the inaugural address and President Kennedy’s call to action ~ “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” After fifty-two years, I remember that address and those words and that voice and that call.
On this day January 20, 1961 – John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts was sworn-in as the 35th President of the United States.
On January 20, 1961, on the newly renovated east front of the United States Capitol, John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. It was a cold and clear day, and the nation’s capital was covered with a snowfall from the previous night. The ceremony began with a religious invocation and prayers, and then African-American opera singer Marian Anderson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Robert Frost recited his poem “The Gift Outright.” Kennedy was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Earl Warren. During his famous inauguration address, Kennedy, the youngest candidate ever elected to the presidency and the country’s first Catholic president, declared that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and appealed to Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Read the full text of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address here.
The once and future First Ladies ~ Time-Life-Getty photos