SIGStory #8

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3 LITTLE TOLD STORIES ABOUT JOHN KENNEDY

The First Act of A New President

John F. Kennedy wanted to reward West Virginia for its support during his Presidential campaign. For most politicians the reward would be pork and patronage, but not President Kennedy. In his first act as President, Kennedy doubled the surplus food allotment for the poor in West Virginia. The words from his last visit to the state were ” the sun does not always shine in West Virginia but the people always do.” This little known act resulted in Kennedy holding a special place in the hearts of West Virginians, his photograph hanging on the wall  in many homes that previously displayed pictures of Franklin Roosevelt.

How A Vicuña Coat Made The World A Safer Place

President Eisenhower needed a favor from his successor, John Kennedy. Eisenhower’s former chief of staff, Sherman Adams was about to be indicted for taking a vicuña coat as quid pro quo for political favors. If Kennedy through his brother, the Attorney General, squashed the indictment, Eisenhower offered Kennedy a blank check for a future political favor. Kennedy as a new President having few political favors in his grasp, had the indictment squashed.

As his first and only term as President was ending, Kennedy had 2 bills coming to Congress for a vote, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and The Civil Rights Act. Kennedy used Eisenhower’s blank check to garner the votes needed to pass the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty making the world safer for future generations. Explaining his choice to use Eisenhower’s support for passage of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and not the Civil Rights Act, Kennedy confided to an aide, “Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.”

Prayer and the President

Following the Supreme Court’s decision declaring officially sponsored prayers in public schools unconstitutional, President Kennedy was asked to comment on the subject at a press conference. Instead of being critical of a decision that conflicted with his personal convictions as so often is the reaction of elected officials today, Kennedy answered by giving strong support to the Court’s decision, saying it is important for us, if we are going to maintain our constitutional principles, to support  Supreme Court decisions even when we might not agree with them. He added that the decision reminds people of an easy remedy, we can pray a good deal more at home.

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