Thursday, May 23, 2013


May 23, 2013


New York City (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy spoke at the dedication of the East Coast Memorial* to the Missing at Sea 50 years ago today, May 23, 1963, at Battery Park here in New York City. 

                               Eagle Statue
                      East Coast Memorial
             New York City's Battery Park
                    Photo by Norbert Nagel
             Morfelden-Walldorf, Germany

*The East Coast Memorial is 1 of 3 memorials administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission.  It honors 4609 servicemen who died in the western Atlantic Ocean during WWII.

Each of their names are engraved on 8 pylons each 19 feet high.  The pylons are arranged in 2 rows which are separated by a statue of an eagle designed by Gehron and Seltzer.  

The eagle is the work of Italian born sculptor Albino Manca. 

In addition to the President, New York Mayor Robert Wagner, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, and 1st Lord of the British Admiralty Sir Caspar John** were in attendance.

**Sir Caspar John (1903-1984) was born in London and served in World War II.  He became naval air attache at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. and commanding officer of two aircraft carriers.

President Kennedy said...

"Inscribed upon these slabs of stone are the names of those who 2 decades...ago gave their order that freedom might live.  They came from every state (and)..belonged to every branch of the...armed forces.

These that their names and their valor will never be forgotten by all who cherish freedom.

These great tablets (also) remind every citizen and every nation what freedom means to America--of the tragic cost we have paid to keep that freedom alive.

The cost of freedom...has always been high...but Americans have always been willing to pay it.

Franklin Roosevelt described the goal of those who fought and died in these simple words...

'More than end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars.'

Therefore, as President and Commander-in-Chief, I dedicate this memorial."

A salute was fired during the ceremony by the destroyer USS Mitscher.

The President also talked about a prayer inscribed on plaques given to new submarine captains by Admiral Hyman Rickover

The Admiral had given one of the plaques to the President who kept it on his Oval Office desk.

The JFK Library has in its collection the memo written by the President and kept by his personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln concerning this plaque.

                          JFK Library Document

The inscription reads:

"O God, Thy Sea Is So Great And My Boat Is So Small."