Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A capable and dynamic leader, as well as the first and only Catholic president to date, Kennedy was a symbol of the change that had begun to come over the United States during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Beloved by millions across the country, he could stir crowds to a frenzy simply by being in front of them, recalled Senator Claude Pepper in his autobiography, Eyewitness to a Century. After learning of President Kennedy’s assassination while at lunch with Mildred Pepper at the Democratic Club in Washington D.C., a stunned Pepper wrote in his diary:
Below is the typed entry pulled from Senator Pepper’s diary transcripts:
Later, Pepper would go on the air via a Miami radio station, WIOD, to inform his constituency of the tragic events of the day:
To the always traumatic experience of losing a world leader there was in the death of President Kennedy the added shock of assassination. Having witnessed firsthand the pain that the nation felt in the wake of the death of FDR, Pepper was all too familiar with the feelings of loss that his fellow Americans were enduring. Both Pepper and Kennedy saw eye to eye on many issues facing the nation including Civil Rights, elder care and the rights of the poor and disenfranchised, issues that Claude Pepper would continue to fight for until the end of his career in 1989. In addition to the images shown above, the Claude Pepper Library and Museum also holds further correspondence, ephemeral items and photographs relating to President Kennedy as well as those of the six other presidents that Pepper served under during his years in office.
The Claude Pepper Library and Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm. For further details please contact Robert Rubero at (850)644-9217.