In Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed column today (Tuesday, November 23, 2010) he writes:
“It was a half-century ago this month that John F. Kennedy won the presidency in a thrilling and heart-stoppingly close election against Richard Nixon. You’d probably be surprised at the number of Americans who are clueless about when Kennedy ran: ‘It was 1970, right?’ ‘Wasn’t it in the ’40s, soon after the war?’ Or whom he ran against: ‘Eisenhower?’
Herbert goes on: “Kennedy’s great gift was his capacity to inspire. His message as he traveled the country was that Americans could do better, that great things were undeniably possible, that obstacles were challenges to be overcome with hard work and sacrifice.”
And then Herbert recalls the Peace Corps: “Kennedy the cold warrior was also the president who created the Peace Corps, which Ted Sorensen, who died just last month (and whose daughter Juliet was a Peace Corps volunteer), described as the epitome of Kennedy’s call for service and sacrifice. The life of the young men and women who joined the Peace Corps would not be easy, Kennedy said, but it would be “rich and satisfying.” The volunteers would live and work among the indigenous people in developing countries, eating their food, speaking their language and helping them “meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower.
“The response to this call for service was both robust and long-lasting. The Peace Corps was one of the great successes of Kennedy’s administration.”
p.s. By the way it was Adlai Ewing Stevenson and Eisenhower and I was too young to vote. I cast my first vote for Kennedy. That’s a nice memory to have today.