JFK Inauguration 50 Years Ago Close and Clear

-

jfk_pr1.jpg
(thanks to LIFE.com for permission to reprint this picture; click image for larger version)
I am really enjoying LIFE.com‘s more frequent releases of never before published nor seen photos of great events and people, and I’m grateful for the permissions from LIFE to share these photos with readers of The Washington Note.
Today, we have never-before-seen photos from JFK’s 1961 White House inauguration on the 50th anniversary of his swearing into office.
From the LIFE intro to these fascinating photos:
January 20, 1961, was a bitterly cold day in Washington. And yet, as John and Jackie Kennedy set out on foot from the White House to the Capitol — where hours later JFK would to be sworn in as America’s 35th president — the overriding sense of cheer and confidence in the old town was palpable.
This, after all, was the symbolic commencement of “Camelot” — the evocative label, born of the young president’s fondness for the Broadway musical of the same name, ever-after associated with Kennedy’s administration. To chronicle the heady, historic event, LIFE sent several of its best photographers to D.C. for the inauguration (and for the black-tie parties before and after the swearing-in). While the magazine ran nearly 20 photos from the day in the next week’s issue, many, many more pictures were stored away in LIFE‘s archives, never to be seen — until now.
Here, on the 50th anniversary of that freezing, exuberant day in D.C.,
LIFE.com presents rare and previously unpublished photos of JFK’s 1961 inauguration.
jfk_pr1.jpg(to the left and above)
Jackie and John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, and others prepare at the White House for the inauguration. While Jack Kennedy’s time in the White House was ultimately cut short in November 1963, his administration’s “thousand days” — the title of Arthur Schlesinger’s classic 1965 account of Camelot — would be rife with drama, crisis, and firsts.
The founding of the Peace Corps; the Bay of Pigs debacle; the Cuban Missile Crisis — in less than three years, JFK and his circle initiated federal programs and weathered political storms that still resonate five decades on.
jfk_pr2.jpg
(thanks to LIFE.com for permission to reprint this picture; click image for larger version)
In a Leonard McCombe photograph that, five decades later, feels disturbingly familiar, and haunted, a smiling President Kennedy and the First Lady ride through cheering crowds in an open convertible.
jfk_pr3.jpg
(thanks to LIFE.com for permission to reprint this picture; click image for larger version)
In a previously unpublished photo by
LIFE‘s Joe Scherschel, President Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson take part in Inauguration Day ceremonies, January 20, 1961.
In looking back at these photos and remembering what Kennedy inspired in so many, I can’t help but think of President Obama in similar terms. But Presidents can’t be only about veneer and hope; they must earn the respect of citizens and other leaders by performing well in times when all of the choices are hard.
I think Kennedy and Obama both inspired on the front end of their presidencies, but the realities of the world — the Soviets in Kennedy’s time and a world without equilibrium in Obama’s — did force in the former and are forcing today hard choices.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

12 comments on “JFK Inauguration 50 Years Ago Close and Clear

  1. Neo Controll says:

    Morning questions.
    Re your question, you know exactly how to spell my handle. But you can call me neo ; –
    Take care.

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    Wow! If this snowballs, Christ(ie) himself could be out of the running! Chris Christie appointed a Muslim judge and the Tea Party media types are having a field day.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/1/21/937795/-Gov.-Christie-Appoints-Muslim-Judge;-Wingnut-Heads-Explode
    Sometimes it’s worth reading kos diaries.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    OT but… Hey nadine,
    THIS or I guess I mean This is interesting regarding the regulatory review process! Not even the Cato Institute seems to like THIS, I mean This, version of it!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/business/22regulate.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1295630119-vXTMlKfUblP9tbtEIV533Q
    A lot of rules have some justification and some fans or they wouldn’t really have become rules in the first place. INTERESTING STUFF. I mean, Interesting Stuff.

    Reply

  4. DonS says:

    I am a 2 year veteran of VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps, and a direct descendant of the original Peace Corps. A thoroughly ‘democratic’ idea. No way would those kind of ideas, adjusted for the times, would come from republican brains as they exist today, in my opinion. It is outrageously insulting that a radical partisan like nadine would take this opportunity to plead her case.

    Reply

  5. nadine says:

    If JFK were alive today he’d be a Republican. He was tax cutter domestically, and an anti-Communist hawk in foreign policy.

    Reply

  6. bryan says:

    wow 50 years? and the american people still dont know who shot him and why.
    when i hear people talking about kennedy like he was the greatest president we have ever had, i have to respond with he wasnt that great.
    if he was that great then why didnt the american people stand up and demand the truth.
    there are still members of our government that could be held responsible and THAT is exactly why the kennedy file is being kept secret from the american people to this day

    Reply

  7. David says:

    Very clever article. Thought evoking to say the least.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    “…thanks for remembering the important work of Sargent Shriver who was a great American and did so much at the end of his life that many did not know acknowledging and pushing for Alzheimer’s Research.” (Steve Clemons)
    The passing of Sargent Shriver really marks the ending of an era. With the passing of Ted Sorenson a few months ago and now Sargent Shriver I can’t think of any members of JFK’s inner circle who are left. If any of the intimates of the 35th President of the United States are still alive, I would be grateful if someone would point out their names to me. Whatever one thinks of the Kennedy family, they certainly did experience more than their fair share of tragedy. While he lived to a ripe old age, Sarge’s Alzheimer’s Disese that robbed such an energetic man of his faculties, certainly fit right in with the sad pattern of Kennedy family misfortunes.
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with him Steve, but Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL) and Washington Mystics (WNBA) and the Verizon Center has an excellent blog that he calls “Ted’s Takes.” Leonsis is a former senior executive at AOL and is a founder of many new and successful start-ups including Groupon and Rosetta Stone. He also owns the Ticket Master franchise in the Washington, D.C. area.
    His blog is mostly about the sports franchises that he owns; a subject that I know doesn’t interest you, Steve. But he was a friend of the Shriver Family and he has a lovely description of Sargent Shriver on his blog (see the post on January 17,2011).
    Ted Leonsis is truly a great man in his own right. If you’re interested in seeing what he wrote about Sargent Shriver you can find it here,
    http://www.tedstake.com/

    Reply

  9. Brodie says:

    There was more substance to JFK’s presidency than most
    mainstream historians and media types usually allow, if counted
    not only by programs passed but also crises and disasters
    averted. Certainly JFK’s decision not only not to send in combat
    troops to VN and massively escalate there — as nearly all the
    nat’l security chain recommended — but also to begin
    withdrawing military personnel (NSAM 263, Oct ’63; see
    Newman, JFK and Vietnam; Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable)
    should count as a positive achievement. Ditto his earlier
    decision — contra the advice of the outgoing Ike — not to send
    combat troops to Laos.
    Clearly by the time of his death, as detailed in Douglass’
    outstanding book, he and Khrushchev were on a path towards
    beginning to end the Cold War. K’s son Sergei confirms this.
    The Test Ban Treaty was meant to be a first step. A joint US-
    USSR space mission to the Moon, proposed first by JFK at Vienna
    but initially turned down by the Soviet leader, was by the fall of
    ’63 also to be a reality, according to Douglass citing Sergei K.
    and also a JFK memo to Nasa directing them to begin planning to
    work with the Soviets.
    In domestic areas, JFK said just before his death that it would
    realistically take about 18 months for the bulk of his programs to
    be passed through Congress. Not a farfetched prediction, given
    that JFK was almost certain to face right-winger Goldwater in ’64
    and win big, carrying along with him more progressive-minded
    Dems to Congress.
    Kennedy was knocking on the door of greatness, but alas wasn’t
    given enough time to walk through. Still he leaves behind a
    legacy of inspiring, bold and competent leadership.
    And as for Sarge Shriver, he along with Adlai Stevenson are two
    people who but for some bad political luck would have made
    outstanding presidents. Not many politicians have come along
    who had Shriver’s combination of intelligence, articulateness, and
    energetic, visionary idealism. Well-meaning George McGovern
    and Hubert Humphrey were pale or windbaggy substitutes for
    what Sarge offered. And unlike the lofty Adlai, Shriver had the
    personality to reach the common person.

    Reply

  10. JohnH says:

    “JFK AND THE UNSPEAKABLE” is a book that people really should read. It

    Reply

  11. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the post WigWag — and thanks for remembering the important work of Sargent Shriver who was a great American and did so much at the end of his life that many did not know acknowledging and pushing for Alzheimer’s Research. The last time I saw him was at a major Alzheimer’s Dinner organized by George and Trish Vradenberg. He was there just enough to know that what he was doing in his twilight mattered.

    Reply

  12. WigWag says:

    “The founding of the Peace Corps; the Bay of Pigs debacle; the Cuban Missile Crisis — in less than three years, JFK and his circle initiated federal programs and weathered political storms that still resonate five decades on.” (As quoted by
    (Steve Clemons)
    And sadly of course JFK’s relative (by marraige) R. Sargent Shriver who was the driving force behind the Peace Corps passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *