On this day in 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. He was the fourth U.S. president to be assassinated.
Words from the speeches he was unable to deliver are helpful yet today.
“Ancient vision” and “Our hopes for the future”
First, an excerpt of remarks he was to give later that day to the Texas Democratic State Committee in Austin:
“So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation’s future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause–united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future–and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”
President Kennedy was going to the Trade Mart to speak to the Dallas Citizens Council when he was assassinated. The following is a portion of that undelivered speech:
“We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.”
Finally, the next day, President Lyndon B. Johnson “appoint[ed] November 25, the day of the funeral service of President Kennedy, to be a national day of mourning…” He said, “I earnestly recommend the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay their homage of love and reverence to the memory of a great and good man.”