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January 15, 2009

Cold War revisited: A story from JFK's inaugural

The Cold War was the burning concern when John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 1961.

The Associated Press has been going back through history to find some of its stories as they appeared in the nation's newspapers on inauguration days. Here is an excerpt of the AP's Kennedy inauguration story in The Chillicothe (Mo.) Constitution-Tribune — along with a sampling of other news on that paper's front page that day:

Kennedy Asks Reds To Join Quest for Peace


WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (AP) — A deadly serious John F. Kennedy became President today in deadly times with an eloquent plea for the Communists to join him in a quest for peace lest all humanity be destroyed.

At the cold, windswept, snowcovered Capitol the old order left and the new came in.

Kennedy, at 43 the youngest elected President in our history, took the oath as the nation's 35th chief executive from Chief Justice Earl Warren at 12:51 p.m.

The simple, impressive ceremony took but a moment, and Kennedy immediately plunged into the world problems that will occupy most of his thoughts during the next four years.

The President began his inaugural address with a vow that this nation would remain strong.

"Let every nation know," he said, "whether it wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty."

He never mentioned the Communists by name when he said:

"To those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: That both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction."

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