July 1, 2013
PRESIDENT KENNEDY VISITED ITALY 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
President Kennedy was welcomed by Antonio Segni*, President of Italy. and Prime Minister Giovanni Leone**.
*Antonio Segni (1891-1972) was President of Italy from 1962-1964. He was born in Sassari, Sardinia. He studied law and was a professor at the University of Sassari. Segni was an organizer of the Christian Democratic Party and was elected to the Parliament of Italy in 1948.
**Giovanni Leone (1908-2001) was PM of Italy in 1963 and again in 1968. He served as President of Italy from 1971 to 1978.
In later remarks at the Campidoglio in Rome, JFK said...
"I bring to you the greetings of 10 American cities named Florence, 15 American cities called Milan, 9 named Piedmont, 7 called Venice, 7 called Rome, and one even called Italy, Texas."
According to Rodrigo Praino of i-Italy, JFK's visit to Italy "is often forgotten and snubbed (as)...the last stop in a larger and famous tour of Europe."
Praino writes that JFK's primary mission in Italy was "to garner support for deployment of a nuclear-armed fleet staffed by people from many nations" in the region.
The visit to Rome unfortunately was darkened by the "blocking and shoving" of presidential advisers McGeorge Bundy and Ted Sorensen by the Italian police.
The two members of JFK's staff were in the process of attempting to enter the Quirinal Palace at the time of the incident.
JFK also spoke on July 1, 1963 at the Villa Taverna, the Ambassador's residence, and at a dinner in the Quirinal Palace***.
Main entrance to Quirinal Palace
Photo by MM (2011)
***The Quirinal Palace, located on Quirinal Hill, is the official residence of the president of the Italian Republic. Built in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII, the palace has been home to 30 popes, 4 kings and 11 presidents.
In the dinner speech, President Kennedy said...
"It is fitting that my travels...should come to a close in this beautiful city and country. I shall leave...with regret--and the only excuse for the brevity of my stay is the certainty of my return, next time with my wife."
The President concluded his remarks at the Palace by saying...
"115 years ago this month, Giuseppe Mazzini**** addressed a mass meeting in Milan with these words:
'We are here...to build up the unity of the human family, so that the day may come when it shall represent a single sheepfold with a single shepherd--the spirit of God...Beyond the Alps, beyond the sea, are other peoples now...striving by different routes to reach the same goal--improvement, association and the foundations of an authority shall put an end to world anarchy...United with them--they will unite with you.'
Today, Italy is united as a free nation and committed to unity abroad. And beyond the Alps...other nations and other peoples are also striving for new association and improvement.
By building Western unity, we are ending the sources of discord that have so often produced war in the past--and we are strengthening the ties of solidarity that can deter further wars in the future.
In time, therefore, the unity of the West can lead to the unity of the East and West, until the human family is truly a "single sheepfold" under God."
****Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) was an activist for the unification of Italy and supported a United States of Europe. Born in Genoa, he graduated from law school and published his 1st essay in 1837.
GM became known as "The Beating Heart of Italy."
Giuseppe Mazzini (1860)
"Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," by David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy. Little, Brown and Company.
"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1964.
"Unforgettable Moments Forgotten: Italy Meets JFK," by Rodrigo Praino, June 17, 2008, www.i-italy.org/