Discussion on Twitter
Nov 21, 2013| Courtesy by : dailymail.co.uk
Barack Obama continued to lionize John F. Kennedy on Wednesday evening at a dinner where the President gave a speech introduced by JFK’s grandson.
Jack Schlossberg, whose mother is Caroline Kennedy, introduced President Obama at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History where a dinner was held to honor recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, first minted by JFK.
‘He reminded us that everyone has the capacity to explore, to imagine and to give back to our great nation no matter the path we choose,’ Mr Schlossberg said of his grandfather.
Obama shook hands and embraced the 20-year-old Yale student who has caused a buzz with his tall, dashing good looks and likeness to his uncle, the late John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999.
There has been increasing interest in Mr Shlossberg, who is training to be an EMT, as he appears to be taking on the Kennedy legacy, making more public appearances and speaking engagements.
In his speech, Obama said JFK stays in America’s imagination not because he was assassinated, but because he embodied the character of the people he led.
He said Kennedy was defiant in the face of impossible odds and determined to make the world anew.
‘In his idealism – sober, squared jawed idealism – we are reminded that the power to change this country is ours,’ Obama said.
‘It is a legacy continued by his brothers and sisters who gave us a more gentle and compassionate country.’
President Obama added: ‘This is a legacy of a man who could have retreated to a life of luxury and ease, but he chose to live a life in the arena. Sailing sometimes against the wind, sometimes with it.’
The President and First Lady Michelle hosted the dinner in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. Among those in attendance were medal recipients Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton.
Others who had the Medal of Freedom medal draped around their necks by Obama earlier in the day included a wide range of American success stories, from former Chicago Cubs baseball star Ernie Banks, country singer Loretta Lynn and former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, Aretha Franklin and Henry Kissinger were also seen mingling at the event and enjoying music from Cuban-American jazz musician Arturo Sandoval.
Former President Bill Clinton mingles following the dinner while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom
Earlier on Wednesday, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton silently honored fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy at the slain leader’s grave, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Obama and Clinton, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, laid a large blue and white wreath on the sun-dappled grave of JFK, who was gunned down in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
They then stood together, with hands on hearts, as a bugler played the US military lament ‘Taps’ before observing a moment of silence.
Extended members of the Kennedy clan looked on at the tableau of presidential power, past, present, and possibly future.
The observance came more than an hour after Obama awarded Bill Clinton- and 15 other luminaries- with the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was first minted by Kennedy.
Later today, Obama will pay tribute to Kennedy’s legacy at a speech at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington honoring medal awardees.
The Kennedy grave and eternal flame is in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington in a hillside with a paved area fashioned from Cape Cod granite quarried from near Kennedy’s ancestral home in Massachusetts.
The eternal flame was lit by Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline Kennedy during his funeral in 1963 and she was buried beside her husband after her own death in 1994.
The poignant moment of remembrance came two days before the official half century anniversary of the death of Kennedy, who was gunned down in an open top limousine in Dallas, Texas, in a crime which traumatized the world.
The ceremonies have sparked a prolonged period of national and media reflection on the unfinished legacy of Kennedy, his tragedy-crossed family and of the evocative period in the early 1960s when his political star illuminated the world.
Kennedy’s closest living relative, his daughter Caroline however, was not at Wednesday’s ceremony. An early supporter of Obama’s presidential ambitions, she has just set off on a new chapter of her life as the US ambassador to Tokyo.
The joint Obama-Clinton appearance at the grave site represented the latest show of unity between two political power families who waged a bitter 2008 Democratic presidential nominating duel.
Hillary Clinton is now the favorite to land the Democratic nomination for the 2016 election — but has not said whether she will make another run for the White House.
Presidents Clinton and Obama, both of whom were elected to second terms, laid claim to the legacy of John F. Kennedy in their own White House runs.
Clinton was famously pictured meeting Kennedy at an event in the White House Rose Garden in July 1963, and has reminisced about how he set eyes on the presidency himself after shaking JFK’s hand.
Obama, who was two years old when the 35th US president was killed, accepted Kennedy’s torch of Democratic Party idealism in a key moment of the 2008 campaign — which irked the Clintons — from president Kennedy’s late brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, at American University in Washington.
The two presidents stood together at a painful political moment for Obama after being brought low by the botched implementation of his signature health care law.
In the Medal of Freedom ceremony, Obama said that Clinton’s presidency proved that it was possible to grow the economy, cut the deficit and invest in science, technology and education — remarks which mirrored his own core political argument to American voters.
Kennedy’s killing was blamed on a gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who the government concluded to be acting alone.
But the 50 years since have been replete with conspiracy theories centering on whether Oswald was the true culprit and if he was acting on his own initiative or was part of a wider plot.
Back to the District: Arlington National Cemetery is just across the Potomac River, a short drive from the White House