WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders today paused to pay tribute to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address that motivated a nation 50 years ago.
In the rotunda of the US Capitol, congressional officials, aides, and Kennedy family members listened in silence to the 14-minute, 1,355-word speech that Kennedy delivered on a blustery day in 1961.
Top congressional leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – attended the event.
“Sadly, this is the first congress to convene without a Kennedy since the Truman administration,” Boehner said, before looking over at the president’s daughter. “Caroline, there’s still time.”
Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, both delivered remarks.
“It took President Kennedy just 1,355 words to summon a new generation and set in motion generations of service and sacrifice – to reignite the fires of idealism and patriotism in millions of Americans,” Kerry said.
Several Republians attended -- including Boehner and Representative David Dreier, a California Republican -- but Senator Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican, was not among them. Brown had used President Kennedy's image during an ad in his special election campaign last year. In the ad, grainy footage of Kennedy delivering a 1962 speech on using tax breaks to spur the economy then morphed into Brown. Democrats panned the ad, but Brown advisers said it marked a key moment that helped his campaign catch fire.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.