I spoke at the National Archives here in Washington earlier this afternoon. It was my last speech in a six-week tour for my book “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.” The head of the National Archives, David Ferriero gave me a copy of the hand-scribbled notes Jack Kennedy used in giving the most famous speech of the Cold War; his address in June 1963 to the people of West Berlin.
Now, those German pronunciations President Kennedy brought with him that day. Ben Bradlee, who was then working for Newsweek, remembers his friend Kennedy practicing the words in the car.
The thing that’s impressed me from the past six weeks heading back and forth across the country is the warmth I’ve seen on peoples’ faces when they hear about those days of the Kennedy era.
It’s so powerful, so compelling to people. I guess it’s just natural for them to ask how we can get it all back. People who love their country want to see it at its best. They want to see us going for civil rights, sending Peace Corps people around the world, shooting for the moon. They want to be united again in common national purpose.
One of the great experiences is going out there to cities from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to San Francisco and meeting people who watch Hardball and care deeply about this country.
I’m asking those who are looking for a book as a gift this Holiday Season to get copies of “Jack Kennedy Elusive Hero.: It’s the story of how a young man rose from a World War II hero, who saved his crew, to the president who saved his country and the world in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s the positive, compelling, hopeful story America needs now more than ever.
It’s the most personal look anyone’s written, I think, of the 35th president. Again, I’m asking you to go to a bookstore and give this gift of American democratic success to someone you love.