Mr. Speaker, Members of the House, Members of the Senate, my fellow Americans:
All I have I would have given gladly to not be standing here today.
The greatest leader our country has ever known has gone. He won’t be around any longer. He has gone to a farm upstate to spend the rest of his days. It is sad, yes, but he is in a better place. I am told at the farm there is a little pond with some swans in it.
Assuming the mantle of the presidency is no easy task, especially to succeed such a great man as John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who is healthy and running through the switch grass, smile on his face, on an expansive 53 acres.
A man, as anyone who had the honor of meeting him knows, was larger than life. His achievements during his time in office are numerous. The foundation of the Peace Corps, working alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the name of Civil Rights, the ongoing success of the Apollo program. His indelible efforts will have impact on this country for the rest of all time. Surely there will be more achievements to come during his time on Herb Fraley’s farm. Herb’s wife Glenda makes a lemonade that is to die for, I’m told. She is tight-lipped about her secret recipe but her bridge club friends suspect it to be a sprig or two of mint.
We must come together during this tumultuous moment for our great nation as President Kennedy drives a station wagon, roof rack stacked high and topped with a rocking chair, down the highway. I ask for peace and unity as I assume the Office of the Presidency and as he pulls up the Fraleys’ long dusty drive and four happy Golden Retrievers awake from their mid-afternoon naps, and run to his Ford Country Squire to greet him.
Thrust upon me today is this awesome burden, that of the presidency. I cannot do it alone. I need the help of all Americans. Political squabbles, disagreements on policy, these things are trivial in these circumstances. I of course am not suggesting that I be allowed to make unilateral decisions unopposed but rather that we all put country above party as I know we are all too capable of doing. I am just now receiving word that President Kennedy is down at the swimmin’ hole, warshin’ off.
On the 20th day of January, in 1961, John F. Kennedy told his countrymen that our national work would not be finished “in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But,” he said, “let us begin. Also, while I have you here, is anybody a farmer? I’ve been thinking about moving to a farm.”
Today, in this moment of new resolve, I would say to all my fellow Americans, let us continue.
This is our challenge—not to hesitate, not to pause, not to turn about and linger over this moment, but to continue on our course so that we may fulfill the destiny that history has set for us. Our most immediate tasks are here on this Hill. John F. Kennedy’s most immediate task is swinging on the tire swing hanging from a big lone oak on a hill.
It will not be easy in his absence, no. But this Nation is strong. He is survived by his wife Jacqueline and his three children, Caroline, Patrick, and John Jr. He too is alive and is currently learning how to properly tack a horse. God rest his soul, as he dozes off in a rocking chair on the veranda as he watches the lightning bugs in the waning evening light.