Saturday, October 19, 2013



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 51 years ago today, October 19, 1962, was the fourth day of what would be the 13 day Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has come to nuclear war.

In a morning meeting at the White House, President John F. Kennedy was told by Air Force General Curtis Lemay*...

 "You're in a pretty bad fix."

General LeMay, who as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was making reference to the fact that Soviet missile sites had been discovered in Cuba just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

JFK would select from a number of response proposals by the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, or EXCOM.

              General Curtis E. LeMay
                         USAF Photo

*Curtis E. LeMay (1906-1990) was born in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in civil engineering.

He designed a systematic bombing campaign on Japan in WWII and after the war led the Berlin Airlift and reorganized the Strategic Air Command.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, LeMay counseled JFK to launch a military strike on Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba.

In 1968, he ran on the American Independent Party ticket with George Wallace.

Aerial photographs, such as the one above, revealed the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles sites in Cuba and during the meeting of Oct 19th, it was learned that another cluster of sites were under construction in the center of the island.

These sites, when completed, would be able to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles to a distance as far as 2800 miles.

The choice of responses for JFK's consideration included...

 1. a complete air strike

 2. a surgical or partial air strike 

 3. a naval quarantine of Cuba

With the possibility that Soviet nuclear missiles could potentially hit any one of the 48 continental states, all Americans were, in General LeMay's words, "in a pretty bad fix."**

**From the transcript of recordings of the meeting released by the JFK Library, President Kennedy responded to LeMay's comment by saying...

"Well, you're in there with me. Personally!"

Some chuckles can be heard following JFK's remark on the recording.
After he left the meeting, the President said privately to Dave Powers:

"These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor.  If we listen to them and do what they want...none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong."


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) 50 years ago today, October 19, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the Armory here in Boston at "New England's Salute to the President" Dinner.

JFK said...

"I hope...that this part of the United States is identified at home and abroad with a strong United States, occupying a position of great responsibility around the globe.

Woodrow Wilson once said that a political party is of no use unless it serves a great cause.  And I think that our objective today is provide for our people a rising rate of well develop all of their talents in a growing and fruitful society, and for us around the world to continue to bear...the great burdens of maintaining the security and peace of the world."

The President added...

"I do not look to the future with gloom.  I do not regard the efforts of (this) a failure.  I think the United moving into its brightest period...and I am proud (of) the Democratic Party."

JFK concluded with these words...

"Some years ago, Marshal Lyautey, who was the great French commander in Morocco, said to his gardener to plant a tree, and the gardener said, 'Well, there is no use planting it.  It won't bear fruit for a hundred years.'  He said, 'In that case, plant it this afternoon.'

That is the way I feel about the Democratic Party.  Tonight, tomorrow, and all the rest of the time, let us work for it."


"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963," United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.