Hub to mark 50th anniversary of JFK’s win

By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / November 6, 2010

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In an effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic presidential victory by a rising young, charismatic Massachusetts senator, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared Monday as “John Fitzgerald Kennedy Victory Day’’ in Boston.

“The challenges that President Kennedy faced are very similar to the challenges faced today,’’ said Tom Putnam, the director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester. “Our country can learn from looking back at this important moment in our country’s history and hopefully be inspired.’’

It was the night before the 1960 election and thousands of people flooded the Boston Garden for a homecoming rally for Kennedy, who had just finished months of crisscrossing the country running for president. Kennedy spoke to a sea of supporters.

“So I come here tonight,’’ he called out. “I thank you for your past support. I ask you to join us tomorrow, and most of all, I ask you to join us in all the tomorrows yet to come, in building America, moving America, picking this country of ours up and sending it into the Sixties.’’

Black-and-white footage of his speech, which is contained in a video at the JFK library, shows Kennedy’s shoulders sprinkled with confetti. It is a tantalizing window into a night when Kennedy was poised to become a legend — a promising, beloved president whose life would be cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

The next day, Nov. 8, he voted in Boston before flying to the family compound in Hyannisport, where he learned early on the morning of Nov. 9 that he had won the election. Surrounded by family there, he declared presidential victory.

Beginning with the anniversary Monday, the library will mark each significant event of Kennedy’s presidency — from the Cuban missile crisis and the launching of the Peace Corps to his assassination — for the next three years, Putnam said.

To mark the date of the election, the library will host an invitation-only re-creation of Kennedy’s election night party on Monday. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late president, and Vicki Reggie Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, are expected to attend.

L. Finch can be reached at