January 24, 2013
JFK AND THE PRESIDENT'S SEAL
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy, like Theodore & Franklin Roosevelt before him, loved being President of the United States.
When he was once asked what was his favorite song, he answered...."I think "Hail to the Chief" has a nice ring to it."
So it was only natural that the 35th President would make the SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES a focal point of his administration.
JFK traveled coast to coast & around the world & on the forward sides of AIR FORCE ONE were presidential seals.
And when the cabin door swung open, there was a smaller presidential seal on the inside.
When JFK gave a televised speech to the nation from the Oval Office, a SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES was shown beforehand.
JFK was the proud owner of a leather bomber jacket with the presidential seal sewn on the front. The 1st Lady gave him a gold ring with the presidential seal as a birthday gift.
And who could forget the JFK press conferences.
There was, of course, the seal on the podium, but in the State Department Auditorium where his press conferences were held, JFK had an absolutely enormous SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES on the curtain above & behind him.
JFK Press Conference
November 20, 1962
Photo by Abbie Rowe
JFK Library Image
According to a recent post at Smithsonian.com, the SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES "is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world."
In the same post, however, the question is asked 'Who designed it?'
The modern presidential seal dates back to Harry S Truman who, in 1945, issued an Executive Order making it official.
The SEAL, however, pre-dates Truman.
Millard Fillmore made a rough sketch for engraver Edward Stabler, but the design is virtually the same as the GREAT SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES which was adopted in 1782.
Rutherford B. Hayes was the 1st chief executive to use the coat of arms on White House invitations & the Resolute Desk which he received from the Queen of England bears the coat of arms.
According to the JFK Library...
The EAGLE represents the United States & symbolizes the president's role as head of state...
The ARROWS represent the president's role as commander-n-chief...
The OLIVE BRANCH represents the president's role as chief diplomat...
And the 50 STARS represent the states of the union & the president's role as chief executive & national leader...
In President Truman's EO 9646, the Eagle's head was turned to face the olive branch. This was in keeping with the spirit of changing the name of the Department of War to the Department of Defense & the emphasis of our nation's preference for peace over war.
Just a month before his death, President Kennedy said:
"The American eagle on the Presidential seal holds in his talons both the olive branch of peace & arrows of military might.
On the ceiling in the (Oval) office...that eagle is facing the arrows...but on the new carpet...reflects a change initiated by (FDR) & implemented by President Truman...that eagle is now facing the olive branch & it is in that spirit...that this nation today is stronger than ever before."
JFK Speaks at Rice University
September 12, 1962
Photo by Robert Knudsen
JFK Library Image