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
By ARTHUR EDSON
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."
Nearly all the notables in the nation were here — governors, senators, representatives, supreme court justices. A few, including former President Herbert Hoover, were kept away by Thursday night's snowstorm.
But ex-President Harry S. Truman was on the inaugural stand, beaming to see a Democrat take over the White House again after eight years of Republican rule.
And Dwight D. Eisenhower, at 70 the oldest President in U.S. history, listened quietly as his youthful successor confidently said:
"Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a cold and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and 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."
There was no immediate explanation, but Kennedy, who had arrived at the Capitol early, did not come on to the Inaugural stand until 12:12 p.m., or 12 minutes late.
Even then the program wasn't ready to begin, and there was considerable milling about on the platform.
Eisenhower and Kennedy didn't seem to mind. They chatted amiably and at times energetically.
Neither smiled much. Mostly, Kennedy listened soberly, squinting into the sunlight made exceptionally bright by the snow.
The program finally got under way — 20 minutes late.
There were the prayers from leaders of four faiths, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Greek Orthodox.
There was the stirring, martial music, the singing, and, curiously, there even was comedy. At the most inappropriate moment. During the invocation by Archbishop Richard Cardinal Cushing smoke poured from the lectern. Whatever the origin of the fire, it was quickly extinguished. Cardinal Cushing was undisturbed. A flitting smile crossed even Kennedy's face.
Finally, came the point of all this proceedings, taking the oaths. Lyndon B. Johnson's turn came first. The tall Texan, who had such high hopes of being president himself, was sworn in as vice president by his old friend, fellow Texan and political coach, House Speaker Sam Rayburn at 12:41 p.m.
Kennedy slipped out of a topcoat protecting him against the 22-degree weather and stepped forward.
Facing Chief Justice Warren, and speaking in a loud, clear voice, he repeated his oath to uphold the Constitution and took on the awesome job of leadership.
When he finished the oath, he turned to now ex-President Eisenhower and smiled broadly. Eisenhower smiled back and they shook hands.
Kennedy delivered his speech with the finger-pointing, handchopping gestures which became so familiar during the political campaign.
"I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it," he said.
There were scattered cries of "Jack" as the crowd interrupted Kennedy during his talk.
Eisenhower joined in the applause. Once was when Kennedy declared that this hemisphere shall be the master of its own house.
Also on the front page in Chillicothe: Two local women slip on ice, a man is fined $1 for being drunk and Dennis Tatem of Elm Street reported to police that someone slashed a bicycle tire while the bike was parked at Bishop Hogan School.
NEXT: Grover Cleveland's 1885 inauguration.