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Friday 21 June 2013

JFK and Ireland - 50 years

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy
(May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

He was famously referred to by his initials JFK, and he was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address, famously said
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." 

He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself"
"All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

Kennedy's ancestral home was Ireland - lest anyone forget it. And so we celebrate his infamous visit to Ireland in June 1963 in present day 2013.

A torch lit from the eternal flame at Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery has made its way to Ireland for a special ceremony this weekend (June 22nd 2013). His daughter Caroline Kennedy and sister Jean Kennedy Smith will use the torch to light an 'emigrant flame' in Mr Kennedy's ancestral home town of New Ross, Wexford.

In a Government dinner hosted by the T├ínaiste at Iveagh House, Caroline Kennedy said that "even 50 years ago Ireland led by example by sending members of the Defence Forces to a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo." Ms Kennedy said that the world owed Ireland "a debt of gratitude" for continuing to send peacekeepers to some of the most dangerous areas of the world and that the Northern Ireland Peace Process had shown the world "the power of hope and the importance of dialogue."

There has and always will be a great affiliation between the Irish and John F Kennedy and not just that he was the first president to visit the island seeking his heritage but he developed a great fondness for the country. The honour guard at JFK's graveside was the 37th Cadet Class of the Irish Army. JFK had been so greatly impressed by the Irish Cadets on his last official visit to Ireland that Jackie Kennedy requested the Irish Army to be the honour guard at the funeral.

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