Why do we remember John F. Kennedy

"We mourn in Berlin because we lost our best friend."
Willy Brandt on the night of November 22nd to 23rd, 1963

The assassination of John F. Kennedy sparked shock waves around the world. All over the world people mourned as if a close personal friend had died. Tens of thousands of Berliners gathered spontaneously at the Schöneberg town hall on the night of death. In Washington, Jackie Kennedy and her brother-in-law Robert began staging the funeral of John F. Kennedy as that of a hero and martyr.



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Rocking chair

John F. Kennedy bought the first of his famous rocking chairs in 1955 from a small North Carolina furniture company. This chair has been manufactured in the same design since 1926.


John F. Kennedy owned a dozen or so rocking chairs in all sorts of locations, and later even on Air Force One. For Kennedy, who had back problems, sitting in a rocking chair was more comfortable and less painful than sitting in a normal chair. When asked after the presidential election whether he would take his rocking chair into the White House, the new president replied, "If I go, he'll go with me." Kennedy wrote in a letter to the editor of the New York Times: "You will remember what Senator Dirksen said about the rocking chair - it gives you a sense of movement but without danger". Indeed, Kennedy has often been blamed for not "moving" enough and for avoiding political danger.
The empty rocking chair - a donation from The American Homestore, Wolfach - symbolizes the emptiness that the murdered president had left in the White House and in the world.

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Even the funeral ceremonies for the dead President John F. Kennedy were organized down to the smallest detail by his widow Jackie Kennedy: On the night after the murder, employees in the library of congress had to search for notes describing the funeral ceremony of Abraham Lincoln. He was also shot and thus became a martyr. Drummers escorted Kennedy's horse-drawn coffin on his way from the White House to the Capitol on November 24th. The eternal flame on the grave was Jackie Kennedy's idea too. In the rotunda of the Capitol, hundreds of thousands of people said goodbye to their dead president for 18 hours.
One picture particularly touched the world: the three-year-old saluting John Jr. He did not make this gesture spontaneously when the marines passed by, but was encouraged to do so by Jackie.
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Sympathy in Berlin

 


Left: On the day of Kennedy's funeral, on November 25th, an official mourning rally took place in front of the Schöneberg Town Hall in Berlin. Over a quarter of a million Berliners came to Rudolph-Wilde-Platz, which was renamed "John-F.-Kennedy Platz" that day. The American Institute of the Free University and the German-American School also got his name.

Right: Postcard about the renaming of Rudolph-Wilde-Platz in
John F. Kennedy Square, August 13, 1964

Not only did Americans mourn their 35th president, but people around the world were deeply affected by the untimely and violent death of John F. Kennedy. On the night of November 22nd to 23rd, many thousands of Berliners spontaneously gathered on Rudolph-Wilde-Platz, where a few months ago John F. Kennedy himself had spoken. The then mayor of West Berlin, Willy Brandt, gave a mourning address:
"The Americans have lost their president. A tormented humanity has lost the man who so many believed could lead us decisively on the path to just peace and a better life in this world. But we in Berlin in particular are mourning because we lost our best friend. "

A few weeks after her husband's funeral, Jackie Kennedy wrote a letter to Willy Brandt. In this she thanks for his presence at the funeral in Washington and writes:
"How strange it is - sometimes I think that my husband's words that will be remembered most were words that he didn't even say in his own language:" I'm a Berliner. ""

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