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The Revd Billy Graham departed this mortal coil on February 21, 2018, aged 99.

Only the good Lord knows how many people he converted or awakened to Christianity. If he spoke in person to 250 million people around the world during his ministry, imagine the hundreds of millions of people watching his televised Crusades and specials or listening to him on radio. What he accomplished over his 80 years as a preacher was so extraordinary that it might not be repeated for generations to come.

CBS News reported that Graham was (emphases mine):

the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history

Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

Tributes from American presidents

President Donald Trump tweeted and followed up with a formal statement later that day:

President Trump’s statement reads as follows:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

George H W Bush also issued a statement:

Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.

It’s true. There was never a whiff of scandal around Billy Graham. God blessed him abundantly, and the Holy Spirit worked through him until the end.

CBS News discussed the long line of past presidents Graham met with:

from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, but always denied any role in setting policy saying, “I don’t advise them, I pray with them,” CBS News reported. Lyndon Johnson looked up to his close friend, the pastor. Richard Nixon asked for his counsel during Watergate. The elder Bush called Graham to the White House the night before he launched the first Gulf War. Younger President Bush has credited Graham with turning him away from drinking and towards embracing God.

These are the names of those 12 past presidents from at least the early 1950s through to the present day: Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama. That’s a mighty long list.

And he met with President Trump.

That’s 13 presidents in all.

Obama was the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in North Carolina. That was in 2010, three years after Graham’s wife Ruth went to her heavenly rest.

CBS reported that Graham also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr about a decade before the civil rights movement took root:

In 1952 he stopped segregating his crusades and began a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All the problems of America tonight and of the world stem from the fact that we as the human race have sinned against Almighty God,” he said in May 1997.

Such was the impact of Billy Graham’s life that flags flew at half mast in Washington DC from February 21 to March 2, the day of his funeral and burial:

Tributes from clergy

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, remembered his family’s respect for Graham’s ministry:

As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Dolan said in a statement. “There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Savior, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.

One of Graham’s grandsons, the Revd Tullian Tchividjian, noted his grandfather’s universal appeal:

My granddad wasn’t just Christian-famous, he was famous-famous, he was crossover famous.

Unfortunately, Tchividjian succumbed to temptation in his own ministry. He resigned his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale after admitting to an extramarital affair. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed him from their South Florida Presbytery as being ‘unfit for Christian ministry‘. A subsequent pastorate and outreach ministry also failed because of more sexual impropriety. In 2015, Tchividjian divorced his first wife Kim after 21 years of marriage. He married his second wife Stacie the following year. Hmm. What a contrast to his grandfather.

Honour of lying in state in Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham was honoured greatly prior to his funeral:

This is a good photo of the exterior of the Capitol Building from Billy’s son’s — Franklin Graham’s — Samaritan’s Purse ministry:

A memorial service took place. Pictured is one of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird. I remember when she and her husband married in 1967:

President Trump spoke at the service:

What follows is the text of President Trump’s address. It’s very moving — probably written by the incomparable Stephen Miller — and really expresses not only who Billy Graham was but how much he appealed to his audiences. I remember watching his Crusades when I was a child. During the first one I watched at the age of seven, I approached the television set when he made his call for people to come forward!

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.

On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.

The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.

But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.

He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.

Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.

Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.

Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.

END

11:28 A.M. EST

That evening, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for the Grahams. Franklin Graham is sitting to the left of Mrs Trump (her right):

The funeral

Billy Graham’s funeral took place in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, March 2.

His grandson Roy provided the story behind the evangelist’s simple wooden casket. Recommended video:

This was the scene under a tent at the Billy Graham Library before the funeral:

The Trumps and the Pences walked together:

The Charlotte Observer reported:

His funeral service under a massive tent at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte drew more than 2,000 guests, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, governors, senators, religious leaders, celebrities and longtime Graham family friends. It was the kind of star-studded turnout that would have made Graham blush, suggested some of the speakers, who lauded this pastor to presidents and everyday people for always trying to steer the attention away from himself and toward Jesus Christ.

Family members escorted Graham’s plain wooden casket into the 28,000-square-foot tent, which was meant to harken back to Graham’s 1949 crusade in a “canvas cathedral” in downtown Los Angeles that shot him to national attention.

The service lasted the planned 90 minutes. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — BGEA — as well as his own Samaritan’s Purse, gave the address:

My father’s greatest longing has been granted,” the younger Graham said. “He’s in the presence of God” …

Franklin Graham recalled his father’s love of his late wife, Ruth, his sense of humor and joy in his grandchildren. “The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home,” he said. “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

But Graham said the late evangelist also believed in heaven and hell, and in the Bible as the infallible word of God: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

In an era of political correctness, he added, some “want you to believe there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.

“Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again,” he ended, gazing at the casket before him, “but I will see you again, and maybe soon.”

The article concludes by stating that the Graham family and the BGEA consider the funeral to be the Last Crusade. They hope it will stimulate new interest in the Gospel.

The videos of the funeral service follow:

More on Billy Graham to follow.

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This week, President Donald Trump is due to open files to the public regarding the John F Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963:

The ‘further information’ in that sentence refers to any information that might jeopardise America’s national security or have an adverse impact on someone who is still alive, in which case secrecy would override public disclosure.

Recently, I saw an excellent — and short — video wherein Dick Morris, now a Republican but formerly an advisor to Bill Clinton, explains the political context of the JFK assassination. I did not know some of the details Morris discusses below:

Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) — serving as vice president at the time — was being investigated for having bribed senators during his time as Senate majority leader and for shady business deals in Texas involving oilmen as well as television and radio station licences in the Austin market.

The Senate had been investigating both scandals and was ready to indict Johnson. It is likely he would have gone to prison.

Had JFK not been shot, Time magazine had planned a cover story for that week with the vice president’s picture and the caption ‘Johnson in Trouble’.

JFK’s personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, said later that the president was planning to drop Johnson for the 1964 presidential election. Johnson, no doubt, already knew that while the Senate was investigating him.

Was Johnson somehow involved behind the scenes? Morris, who has read a great deal on the subject, says that LBJ had close organised crime — mob — connections in Dallas and New Orleans. He also had good relationships with the police in those cities. Therefore, the possibility of collusion exists.

Morris says the assassination could have been one of the earliest and most ‘virulent’ manifestations of the Deep State.

In his presidential farewell address in January 1961, Dwight D Eisenhower warned the American public that the military industrial complex could get out of control. I wrote about it earlier this year. Eisenhower spoke of the:

unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex …

The Deep State did not like JFK. He was starting to roll back their influence, particularly in the Cold War. He signed a nuclear test-ban treaty with Russia and wanted rapprochement. Had he lived to run for re-election, one of his campaign positions was pulling out of Vietnam.

LBJ was much more amenable to Deep State objectives.

After the assassination, LBJ set up the Warren Commission, which was supposed to find and reveal the truth behind it. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Yet, there were likely to have been multiple shooters that day, possibly three, perhaps four.

Morris posits that the output of the Warren Commission was probably driven by the CIA and FBI. If the truth had come out, Morris says, there might have been severe public unrest in the United States, maybe even a revolution.

So, all being well, we should find out more about the assassination on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

I pray that the American people get closure on this subject. I hope the information is readable with minimal redactions.

Church and state averypoliticalwomancomIn response to ‘Christian objections to President Trump’, the author of Pacific Paratrooper wrote in to ask:

Isn’t there a division of church and state?

The short answer is that the First Amendment protects religious freedom and prohibits the establishment of a national church and state churches. It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote of the ‘separation between church and State’ in 1802 in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. They were concerned about their tax money supporting the Congregational Church, the state church of Connecticut at that time.

There is more to the story, detailed below.

However, Conservapedia tells us that there was a constitution that had a division of church and state (emphases mine below):

A phrase close to “separation of church and state”, but used for malevolent purposes and expanded to name education, does appear in Article 52 of the constitution of the Soviet Union (1977): “In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.”[6]

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Conservapedia makes the argument that the First Amendment has its origins in the Bible:

The protection for free speech was largely motivated to safeguard the preaching of the Bible. Several passages in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, support a right of free speech, including Numbers 11:26-30 (Moses allowed free speech by declaring, “If only all the people of the LORD were prophets!”);[1] Mark 9:38-41 (admonition by Jesus not to stop strangers who cast out evil in his name).

George Washington’s farewell address

In his farewell address of September 19, 1796, George Washington said:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men & citizens. The mere Politican, equally with the pious man ought to respect & to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private & public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the Oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure–reason & experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Ronald Reagan’s address to the Alabama State Legislature

Nearly 200 years later, on March 15, 1982, Ronald Reagan addressed the Alabama State Legislature:

And I know here that you will agree with me that standing up for America also means standing up for the God, who has so blessed our land. I believe this country hungers for a spiritual revival. I believe it longs to see traditional values reflected in public policy again. To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

What Jefferson said

In 1801, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut wrote Thomas Jefferson to ask about about their tax money supporting the Congregational Church, the state church of Connecticut at that time.

On New Year’s Day 1802, Jefferson replied, in part:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

Connecticut did not change this mandate until 1818. That year, their constitution finally stated:

Article VII. Section 1. It being the duty of all men to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and their right to render that worship in the mode most consistent with the dictates or their consciences, no person shall by law be compelled to join or support, nor be classed with, or associated to, any congregation, church, or religious association; but every person now belonging to such congregation, church, or religious association, shall remain a member thereof until he shall have separated himself therefrom, in the manner hereinafter provided. And each and every society or denomination of Christians in this State shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights, and privileges; and shall have power and authority support and maintain the ministers or teachers of their respective denominations, and to build and repair houses for public worship by a tax on the members of any such society only, to be laid by a major vote of the legal voters assembled at any society meeting, warned and held according to law, or in any other manner.”

Jefferson worshipped in Capitol building

Atheists are fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson and have adopted him as their secular hero. However, three days after Jefferson wrote his ‘separation between church and state’ letter to the Danbury Baptists (italicised emphasis in the original here, purple emphases mine):

he attended church in the largest congregation in North America at the time. This church held its weekly worship services on government property, in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol Building. The wall of separation applies everywhere in the country even on government property , without government interference. This is how it is written in the Constitution, this is how Thomas Jefferson understood it from his letter and actions, and this is how the men who wrote the Constitution practiced it.

Worship in the Capitol ended only after the Civil War. Therefore, it lasted for five decades.

Conservapedia provides more examples of Jefferson’s support of Christianity in government:

David Barton, Founder and President of WallBuilders, states that Jefferson voted that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building, praised the use of a local courthouse as a meeting place for Christian services, urged local governments to make land available specifically for Christian purposes, set aside government lands for the sole use of religious groups, assured a Christian religious school that it would receive “the patronage of the government”, proposed that the Great Seal of the United States depict a story from the Bible and include the word “God” in its motto, and agreed to provide money for a church building and support of clergy. And that like support of religion by the federal government militates against the extreme separatist position.[26]

The Bible and American government

Conservapedia tells us that God is mentioned in all 50 state constitutions.

Until the 1960s, the Bible had a pre-eminent place:

in government, jurisprudence [11] and in over 300 years of American education[12][13].

Every new president has made a religious reference in his inaugural address. Dwight D Eisenhower wrote his own prayer. Dr Jerry Newcombe compiled a list of all of these references for the Christian Post just before Donald Trump’s inauguration. (He, too, mentioned God — more than once.) Here are a few:

1. George Washington said, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe….”

3. Thomas Jefferson prayed to “that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe.”

6. John Quincy Adams quoted Scripture: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in Vain.”

7. Andrew Jackson referred to “the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy.”

16. Abraham Lincoln stated, “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”

24. William McKinley declared, ” Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers.”

25. Theodore Roosevelt thanked “the Giver of Good who has blessed us.”

32. Harry S. Truman referenced “that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God.”

Dr Newcombe rightly concludes:

The atheists are the Johnny-come-latelies. Demands to ban God and the Bible from the Inauguration should be denied.

Interpretation

It is not surprising that many Americans and other people around the world now think that Christians in the United States are being unreasonable when they lament that the Ten Commandments have been removed from county courthouses along with Christmas crèches on government property.

I grew up with these displays. No one ever had a problem with them, other than the occasional crank.

However, all that changed in the 1960s. In addition to Madalyn Murray O’Hair‘s successful case against school prayer which effectively banned it — along with Bible readings — in state schools, the Supreme Court under Earl Warren dramatically changed the way all of us view the First Amendment (emphases in the original here):

Jefferson simply quotes the First Amendment then uses a metaphor, the “wall”, to separate the government from interfering with religious practice. Notice that the First Amendment puts Restrictions only on the Government, not the People! The Warren Court re-interpreted the First Amendment thus putting the restrictions on the People! Today the government can stop you from Praying in school, reading the Bible in school, showing the Ten Commandments in school, or have religious displays at Christmas. This is quite different from the wall Jefferson envisioned, protecting the people from government interference with Religious practice.

Therefore, one could make the case that over the past 50 years, America has been drifting in practice towards a Soviet-style restriction on Christian displays, the Bible and prayer outside the home on government property.

If you think I am exaggerating, stories have been appearing in local newspapers and conservative websites over the past 12 years about teachers who have taken Bibles away from children silently reading them during lunch hour. There was an instance in Texas in 2003 I remember where the teacher took a child’s New Testament away at lunch hour and threw it in the wastebasket. He was not allowed to retrieve it.

In June 2016, WND published an article about a school in Palmdale, California, where a seven-year-old got his classmates interested in the Bible verses and stories his mother gave him every morning. The mother intended for her son to have religious encouragement during the day. She was not attempting to proselytise. However, the child was so thrilled by these verses that he couldn’t help but share them with others at lunchtime. It wasn’t long before his friends asked him for copies of the verses and stories. One girl who received a story showed it to the teacher, commenting on its beauty:

Then, however, C [the boy] was reprimanded by his teacher in front of the whole class, twice, and told to stop talking about religion or sharing his mother’s notes, and he went home in tears, Liberty Counsel said.

Even as the crowd of students asking for the after-school Bible notes grew, on May 9, Principal Melanie Pagliaro approached Zavala [the mother] and demanded that the notes only be handed out somewhere beyond school property.

With the school not satisfied with only the banishment, Liberty Counsel said, “a Los Angeles deputy sheriff knocked at the door of C’s home, demanding that C’s note-sharing cease altogether because ‘someone might be offended.’” …

The letter to the district said Liberty Counsel, “having reviewed the above facts, district policies, and applicable law, it is clear that the actions of the district staff in this instance, in prohibiting voluntary student religious expression during non-instructional time; then completely banning such student expression from school property entirely, and finally calling the police to report the same are simply unconstitutional.”

“These actions must be disavowed and reversed, to avoid liability for civil rights violations,” the letter said.

It gave the district a deadline for responding of June 1, which was ignored.

I think this will change — somewhat — over the next four years. While the Ten Commandments might not make a comeback in courthouses, Christmas crèches are likely to reappear. And teachers might start to lay off students sharing the Bible at lunchtime.

Tomorrow: Religious persecution and state churches in American colonies

Yesterday’s post looked at Dwight D Eisenhower’s two inaugurations in 1953 and 1957.

Today’s explores John F Kennedy’s inauguration on January 20, 1961. To date, he is the only Roman Catholic to have ever been president. He was the youngest man to ever be elected president, aged 43. There are more firsts below.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower spoke of the ‘unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex’ (8:55):

We still do not know whether the military-industrial complex was involved in Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, but it was a very sad time for millions of Americans.

This is the measured interview Eisenhower gave on that fateful occasion. It’s only five minutes long and well worth watching. Note how he evades sensational questions from the media:

It should be noted that the reference to Kennedy’s presidency as Camelot came after his brutal death. His widow, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (later Onassis), came up with it. Camelot was her favourite musical. It was written by one of her late husband’s classmates at Harvard, Alan Jay Lerner.

Weather

Kennedy was not as fortunate as his predecessor for inaugural weather.

A strong nor’easter blew through Washington, DC — as well as much of New England and the mid-Atlantic states — on January 19. It was a Category 3 — major — storm.

In Washington, temperatures were cold: 20 °F (−7 °C). A total of eight inches of snow fell that day. Travel was severely disrupted, preventing Herbert Hoover from attending the inauguration.

Prospects looked grim for the Inauguration Day parade, however, Wikipedia states that clearing the snow began as soon as possible:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of clearing the streets during the evening and morning before the inauguration, and were assisted by more than 1,000 District of Columbia employees and 1,700 boy scouts.[6] This task force employed hundreds of dump trucks, front-end loaders, sanders, plows, rotaries, and flamethrowers to clear the route.[6] Over 1,400 cars which had been stranded due to the conditions and lack of fuel had to be removed from the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue.[6]

Inauguration ceremony

On the morning of January 20, Kennedy attended Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church near his home in Georgetown.

Afterwards, he made his way to the White House to have coffee with the Eisenhowers and the Nixons.

Once the ceremony began at the Capitol building, the invocation and prayers took a total of 28 minutes. Cardinal Richard Cushing gave a 12-minute invocation. Additional prayers were given by Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Revd Dr John Barclay of the Central Christian Church in Austin, TX and by Rabbi Nelson Glueck. He gave the blessing.

The internationally renowned black contralto Marian Anderson sang The Star Spangled Banner, as she had done for Eisenhower in 1957. Although the new president mouthed the words, he neglected something which raised the ire of a television viewer (emphases mine below):

Kennedy could be seen mouthing the words to the second verse, but that was not good enough for Eugene Hunt, of Dallas, who sent a telegram to the White House that day demanding to know: why wasn’t your hand over your heart during the playing of the star-spangled banner? Some things never change.

Leonard Bernstein of West Side Story fame composed a special piece called Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, which was then played.

Kennedy’s was the first inauguration to be televised in colour. It was also the first to feature a poet.

After Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as vice president, Robert Frost recited a special poem which Kennedy had asked him to compose for the occasion. Unfortunately, the 86-year-old had a difficult time reading it because of the glare from the sun on the snow. Johnson tried to shield the glare with his top hat, but Frost rejected his help. Realising that time was of the essence, Frost instead recited his famous poem The Gift Outright. He later gave his handwritten inauguration poem to Stewart Udall, the incoming Secretary of the Interior, with a request for him to type the text. Udall duly obliged. These are the closing lines from For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration which aptly sum up the mood of much of the nation at that time:

The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young ambition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.

Kennedy took his oath of office on a closed family Bible.

He gave his famous inaugural address which was only 1364 words long and took just under 14 minutes to deliver. The whole world knows lines such as the following:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

With that responsible outlook, I doubt Kennedy would have been allowed to be a Democrat today.

He and speech-writer Ted Sorenson crafted the address with input from close friends of the president.

This line was nearly identical to the one suggested by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

This one came from a suggestion by Adlai Stevenson II (Eisenhower’s Democratic rival in 1952 and 1956):

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Kennedy took office at the height of the Cold War. Echoing Eisenhower’s warning in his aforementioned speech, he talked about the dangers of combining an escalating arms race with nuclear power. In another nod to his predecessor, who advocated helping other nations in constructive ways, Kennedy said he would maintain good international relations and help the impoverished in less fortunate nations.

Kennedy was also keenly aware of civil rights. A Vanity Fair article from 2011 has a fascinating account of the inauguration, complete with interviews with people who were there. On this topic:

Harris Wofford, Kennedy’s civil-rights adviser, was listening intently to see if any of the language he and his colleague Louis Martin had suggested to reflect concern for civil rights had made it into the final draft. Six crucial words had. As Kennedy proclaimed himself “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today,” he added the phrase “at home and around the world.”

“I was very happy he’d put it in,” Wofford, now 84, recalls. “And it made a considerable difference with the civil-rights constituency …”

Now onto a more mundane topic: hats. I wrote that Eisenhower traded the top hat for a homburg. Kennedy reverted to the more traditional silk top hat on Inauguration Day.

However, in everyday life, Kennedy went hatless. American men followed his example. For this reason, Kennedy was said to be the man who put paid to the hat industry. It might have been true. LBJ also eschewed hats, including at his inauguration in 1965.

Parade

The weather remained bitterly cold. Despite that, the inaugural parade was three hours long!

President Harry Truman joined the new president and first lady on the reviewing stand. Former first ladies Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt were also present. Wikipedia tells us:

Sixteen thousand members of the US armed forces marched with displays of modern weaponry like the Minuteman missile and the supersonic B-70 bomber. A further sixteen thousand marchers were civilians ranging from federal and state officials to high school bands and Boy Scouts, accompanied by forty floats.[43]

In more recent inaugurations, floats have not made an appearance. More’s the pity. I used to enjoy them as a child. Many other people did, too.

Inauguration Day newsreel

This seven-minute newsreel gives an excellent summary of events, complete with subtitles:

Kennedy’s image

After eight years of Eisenhower, Kennedy marked a big change in the presidency. As stated above, he is still the youngest to have been elected to that office. Furthermore, his predecessor was, at that time, the oldest to leave the White House. He was 70. It is interesting that Donald Trump has just been sworn in at that age. Reagan is currently the oldest president to leave office. All being well, Trump will surpass him.

The American public were highly aware that Eisenhower was a general during the Second World War while Kennedy was serving on a PT boat.

ABC News provided an interesting retrospective on Kennedy in 2011, the 50th anniversary of his inauguration. The article, complete with video, tells us:

Those close to him also remember him as an amiable, funny president, a marked departure from his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“President Kennedy, the first time he met you he asked your name and he never forgot it. The second time, he asked your wife’s name and your children’s names, and he was personable with the agents and very much a free spirit compared to President Eisenhower,” said Gerald Blaine, a Secret Service agent in Eisenhower and Kennedy’s security detail and co-author of the “The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence.”

“It was such a contrast because he was so young and was totally different.”

Kennedy also brought youth and intrigue to the White House. His fashionable and glamorous wife, Jackie Kennedy, and two young children, captured the fancy of Americans in a way that no other first family had done before.

To have that after the years of Eisenhower and Truman and Roosevelt, suddenly to have this young energetic family was just a complete shot of adrenaline into the city, and tons and tons of young people came to town to participate in government,” [reporter Cokie] Roberts said.

The ABC article explains that Cokie Roberts was a college freshman at the time and, because of the weather, couldn’t make it to the inauguration. However, she has been a reporter ever since I can remember. So have other news broadcasting veterans such as CBS’s Bob Schieffer, who appeared during the 2016 election to offer his opinion and a historic perspective.

Although Schieffer was working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during Kennedy’s presidency, his career evolved on the day of the assassination in Dallas. A woman who asked him for a ride to the scene turned out to be Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. Through her, he also met Oswald’s wife Marina. The scoops kept coming and coming that day and he received his first major journalistic recognition. Later, he was promoted to the Star-Telegram‘s television station. He joined CBS in 1969.

It’s also worth noting that Kennedy’s Peace Corps attracted no end of volunteers, hopeful that they could effect positive change in the poorest countries.

Jackie’s image

Jackie Kennedy captivated not only the international media but millions of women around the world.

Not many people alive today know that on Inauguration Day she was still recovering from the caesarian birth of her son John, born late in November 1960. As a result, Kennedy attended several events before and after the inauguration on his own.

The following interview, which Jackie gave two months after the inauguration, gives us a glimpse into this young first lady, only 30 years old. On the one hand, she has a breathy, girly voice. On the other, she clearly understands art, antiques and the history of the White House. She tells the interviewer, Sandur Vanocur (another household name of the day), that she would like to make ‘a museum’ out of what she rightly called the people’s house. He asks her why there are so few antiques. She tells him that the first pieces were destroyed in the War of 1812. Subsequent presidents auctioned off furniture at the end of their terms. It was only in 1902 that Theodore Roosevelt put a stop to the practice (1:50):

On February 14, 1962, she gave an update on her work, which comprised an hour-long documentary. Her voice is less breathy, now velvety smooth. Her hairstyle and attire also changed. Enjoy this tour, complete with old photographs as well as antiques:

Inaugural balls

John F Kennedy attended all five inaugural balls. Because of her poor health at the time, Jackie only made it to two.

Business Insider has a photo of her with the president looking captivating in a gown and cape she co-designed with the designer. Melania Trump did the same in 2017.

Jackie wore the gown not only to the inaugural balls on January 20 but also to one held the night before, given by Frank Sinatra and actor Peter Lawford, John Kennedy’s brother-in-law. Both were members of the Rat Pack, who were closely associated with the Kennedys, much to the chagrin of pious Protestants.

Kennedy’s father, Joseph, also held a ball that night, which his son attended. Jackie did not, again, for health reasons.

Sinatra’s ball was considered one of the biggest parties ever held in Washington. It was held at the DC Armory, the prime venue for inaugural balls. Sinatra recruited big celebrities of the day and tickets were priced to garner as much money as possible to pay off the debt of the Democratic Party campaign. Wikipedia says:

With tickets ranging from $100 per person to $10,000 per group, Sinatra hoped to raise $1.7 million ($13.6 million in today’s dollars) for the Democratic Party to eliminate its debt brought on by a hard-fought campaign.[3][4]

Vanity Fair notes:

It was an only-in-America blend of high culture and low comedy, of schmaltz and camp, and it may have marked the moment when popular entertainment became an indispensable part of modern politics.

Quite possibly. Carl Anthony at carlanthonyonline.com writes in  ‘Inauguration Swinging-Sixties Style: LBJ’s Big Day, 1965’ that Lyndon Baines Johnson had many celebrities at his inauguration celebrations.

Returning to Sinatra’s ball, Vanity Fair says:

The bill was thoroughly integrated. Five of the two dozen performers were black: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald.

The magazine gives us yet another first for Kennedy’s inauguration. On January 20:

J.F.K. would become the first president to dance with black women at an inaugural ball.

Celebrities

I cannot think of an inauguration that had as many well known people in such diverse fields as Kennedy’s.

At the inauguration ceremony, Robert Frost was not the only poet in attendance. Carl Sandburg was also there. Authors John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway attended. Artist Mark Rothko showed up. So did Mr and Mrs T Reed Vreeland. If that name looks familiar, Diana Vreeland was soon to become the editor of Vogue, a post she held for many years.

Vanity Fair introduces ‘From That Day Forth’, their article on the Kennedy inauguration, as follows:

Washington was bracing for what became perhaps the biggest and best political party of the 20th century—a “gilt-edged, mink-lined, silk-hatted, 10-gallon, 100-proof” celebration, as a greenhorn Washington Post reporter named Tom Wolfe summed it up at the time. Everyone who was anyone in Democratic politics was there, or wanted to be. The president-elect and his elegant wife, Jacqueline, had made a special point of inviting not only the usual hacks and flacks but also a select group of scholars, artists, writers, and thinkers

That is what characterised not only the inauguration — more pictures here — but the short-lived Kennedy White House. I can understand why it captivated my parents and how these names first entered my consciousness.

Even though I was a little nipper, no White House has come close to matching the magic of the Kennedys’.

Coming soon: the Trump inauguration

A few days ago, someone commenting at The Conservative Treehouse posted a link to a detailed article about Lyndon Baines Johnson’s inauguration in 1965.

The article, at carlanthonyonline.com, is called ‘Inauguration Swinging-Sixties Style: LBJ’s Big Day, 1965’. Carl Anthony’s article is well worth reading and has plenty of photographs.

Although I was interested in the 1964 election at a very tender age with all its varied personalities and intrigue, by the time Inauguration Day came around, I had lost interest. I do not remember my parents talking a great deal about LBJ, whereas when John F Kennedy was alive, he and Jackie were frequent topics of conversation. They watched every JFK speech broadcast on television. They were also interested in the people around the Kennedys.

I’ll come back to LBJ later. Suffice it to say that Carl Anthony’s article got me searching for information on Eisenhower’s inaugurations for today’s post and JFK’s for tomorrow’s. I was particularly interested in minorities present, celebrities performing and the general tone of events. This is what I found.

Eisenhower 1953

Dwight David Eisenhower’s first term in office began on January 20, 1953. He succeeded Harry S Truman. (Incidentally, his middle initial never stood for anything.) Richard Milhous Nixon was his vice president.

The Second World War general intended to focus on peace and prosperity.

However, the Korean War had started in 1950 and would not end until July 1953. An armistice was declared on July 27 and peace talks lasted until November 1954, at which time the country was divided into its present-day North and South Korea.

Russia also posed a threat, unmitigated by the death of Josef Stalin in March 1953.

Inauguration ceremony

The Washington Post (WaPo) archives have an excellent article on what happened on Inauguration Day. Excerpts and a summary follow.

The weather was unexpectedly sunny and pleasant. But that was not all (emphases mine):

The greatest spectacle of the Inaugural—a mingling of consecration and carnival, of solemnity and celebration—was warmed not only by the sun, but by the good will of those departing from the political scene.

A moment after Mr. Eisenhower took the oath that raised him to the pinnacle of his career, Harry S. Truman, suddenly become a private citizen, reached over and shook his hand warmly.

Mrs. Truman kissed Mrs. Eisenhower who, but a little while before, was trying to hold back tears as her stalwart husband was being sworn into office.

Those were the days.

An invocation for the ceremony was given by the Most Rev. Patrick O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington.

Eisenhower, who became a Presbyterian that year, was sworn in on two Bibles: the Washington Bible from 1789 and his own West Point Bible.

The Washington Bible was opened to 2 Chronicles 7:14, which will be familiar to many Americans who prayed and meditated upon it in a national civilian prayer effort during Obama’s second term:

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

According to Wikipedia, Eisenhower’s West Point Bible was opened to Psalm 33:12:

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

However, the Eisenhower archives indicate it was Psalm 127:1:

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

After Eisenhower took his oath of office, he offered a prayer, which WaPo says he:

had written … a little while before in his suite at the Hotel Statler, between the time he returned from church and the time he started for the White House to join Mr. Truman for the ride to the Capitol.

The incoming president said:

My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads. Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere. Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling. May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.

Eisenhower then gave his first inaugural address. WaPo tells us that he was interrupted by applause five times:

the first time when he said that the United States faces the threat (obviously that of Russia) with “confidence and conviction.”

Bartleby.com has the full text of the address, which is highly optimistic and, perhaps to us, surprisingly outward looking. After he spoke at length on faith, Eisenhower said:

Freedom is pitted against slavery; lightness against the dark.

The faith we hold belongs not to us alone but to the free of all the world. This common bond binds the grower of rice in Burma and the planter of wheat in Iowa, the shepherd in southern Italy and the mountaineer in the Andes. It confers a common dignity upon the French soldier who dies in Indo-China, the British soldier killed in Malaya, the American life given in Korea.

We know, beyond this, that we are linked to all free peoples not merely by a noble idea but by a simple need. No free people can for long cling to any privilege or enjoy any safety in economic solitude. For all our own material might, even we need markets in the world for the surpluses of our farms and our factories. Equally, we need for these same farms and factories vital materials and products of distant lands. This basic law of interdependence, so manifest in the commerce of peace, applies with thousand-fold intensity in the event of war.

A benediction followed, given first by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Henry K. Sherrill of New York, followed by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland.

Afterwards, the diminutive internationally acclaimed soprano, Dorothy Maynor (1910-1996), sang the Star Spangled Banner. She was the first black to sing at a presidential inauguration: Harry Truman’s in 1949. WaPo said it was difficult to see her on the rostrum because of her height.

Maynor, incidentally, was the daughter of a Methodist minister and married a Presbyterian clergyman in 1942. By then, she had already earned two bachelor’s degrees and had toured the United States, Europe and Australia, often to sold out concerts.

Eugene Conley (1908-1981) followed with America the Beautiful. He, too, was an opera singer. A tenor, he performed with the New York City Opera then went to Europe where he performed in Paris, Milan and London. By the time he sang at the inauguration, he was appearing regularly on television.

Hats were of interest because Eisenhower eschewed the traditional top hat for a homburg. In deference to his choice, Truman also wore one. As for their wives:

They rode bareheaded, chatted amiably and waved to the crowds.

Congressional luncheon

Eisenhower established this tradition with this inauguration.

Parade

In the parade which followed, the Eisenhowers created a new tradition: riding in the same car together.

They rode in a white Cadillac with its top down.

WaPo tells us:

The cheering began on Capitol Hill and mounted the nearer the Chief Executive got to the White House. He waved at first, but as the noise grew in intensity he began to stand up to acknowledge the acclaim.

When they reached the White House, the couple went straight to the reviewing stand.

WaPo says that the parade lasted four hours and 39 minutes, possibly the longest of its kind in history. The sun had set by the time it ended:

President Eisenhower was in a gay mood at the White House, as he reviewed the Inaugural parade. At one point he submitted to being lassoed by a California cowboy named Marty Montana, who made good with his lariat after one nervous failure.

Approximately 750,000 people turned out to line the route on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Inaugural balls

As I wrote in my history of presidential inaugurations, the Eisenhowers planned on only one inaugural ball, as Truman had done.

However, demand for tickets was such that a second one was held.

An original invitation is currently on sale.

Mamie Eisenhower’s gown was pink, which became her trademark colour as first lady. Time has a picture of it and says the style indicates a move away from postwar austerity to opulent gaiety:

Mamie didn’t skimp on the rhinestones. Her pink peau-de-soie gown is covered with more than 2,000 of them.

The Eisenhower archives have more pictures of the balls as well as of the rest of the day.

Eisenhower 1957

January 20 was on a Sunday in 1957, so Eisenhower was sworn in privately in the White House that day.

The public ceremony went ahead the following day.

Inauguration ceremony

The Eisenhower archives tell us that the weather that day was not as nice as it was in 1953. Light snow fell in the morning. Flurries continued in the afternoon.

The Bible verse used for that occasion was Psalm 33:12:

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

This video shows Eisenhower being sworn in:

The internationally renowned black contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993) sang at the ceremony. Anderson never joined an opera company and performed in concerts and recitals only. Her career spanned four decades — 1925 to 1965 — and she was well known in the United States and Europe. The YouTube video below shows the president standing to her right side:

Eisenhower’s address, in full at Bartleby.com, was about American prosperity and the Cold War. However, once again, he reminded Americans of the world beyond:

New forces and new nations stir and strive across the earth, with power to bring, by their fate, great good or great evil to the free world’s future. From the deserts of North Africa to the islands of the South Pacific one third of all mankind has entered upon an historic struggle for a new freedom; freedom from grinding poverty. Across all continents, nearly a billion people seek, sometimes almost in desperation, for the skills and knowledge and assistance by which they may satisfy from their own resources, the material wants common to all mankind.

No nation, however old or great, escapes this tempest of change and turmoil. Some, impoverished by the recent World War, seek to restore their means of livelihood. In the heart of Europe, Germany still stands tragically divided. So is the whole continent divided. And so, too, is all the world.

The divisive force is International Communism and the power that it controls.

Sadly, that is still true 60 years on.

Nonetheless, Eisenhower encouraged a continuation of optimism and a hope that the United States could help the world where it could.

Parade

The Eisenhower archives tell us that the parade was only an hour shorter than the one in 1953.

Once again, 750,000 people lined the route to witness the entertainment:

Marching in the parade were 17,000 people, including 11,757 in military service. There were 47 marching units, 52 bands, and 10 drum and bugle corps in the inaugural parade. The highlight of the parade was a mammoth float — 408 feet long and mounted on 164 wheels — which introduced the theme “Liberty and Strength Through Consent of the Governed.”

The Eisenhower children and Nixon girls stood next to each other, their fathers behind them in the reviewing stand.

The grandstands were extensive, accommodating 65,800 persons: 2,900 more than in 1953.

As he did in 1953, Eisenhower stood up in the car to wave to spectators:

Here are some of the bands and floats. Note that the spectators are integrated:

Inaugural balls

That evening, four inaugural balls were held.

This brief and blurry video shows one of them. Mamie Eisenhower wore a lace ballgown:

The Eisenhower archives have more photos of the day.

Although my late mother was a big fan of the much derided Adlai Stevenson II, Eisenhower’s opponent in both the 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns, she was very happy with the retired general by the time he ran for re-election.

She said the Eisenhower years were a time of much happiness in the United States. Speaking personally, it seems that the nature of television shows reflected that optimism. Whatever one’s politics was, people seemed to share the same values and interests. There was no real division then. Admittedly, segregation in the South was still to be resolved, however, many blacks from that part of the country found employment by moving north to good jobs in manufacturing, particularly in the motor industry in Detroit. Therefore, overall, the Eisenhower years offered mobility and opportunity.

Tomorrow: John F Kennedy’s inauguration

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