John F. Kennedy

The youngest man ever elected president - and the youngest to die in office - came to Richmond and didn’t speak a word.

Democratic hopeful John Fitzgerald Kennedy wound up a whirlwind one-day Indiana campaign for President on April 29, 1960, and suffered an attack of laryngitis in Richmond.

The man who had won the Pulitzer Prize for his Profiles in Courage, who had graduated with honors from Harvard and later won the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for valor in World War II, was hoarse and could not speak.

Landing at Richmond Municipal airport, Kennedy was escorted downtown and made a quick trip to Earlham. Later he went to Holy Family Church where he was introduced as “the first presidential candidate in history who is speechless” by a member of his staff, who delivered his prepared address.

Kennedy was later shot to death on Nov. 22, 1963 after two years and 10 months as chief executive.

He had said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

And he did, forfeiting his life.


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June 19, 2012