Editor’s note: High school students—like James Daigh, who snapped the photo above as JFK's motorcade drove by Rudford’s Restaurant near El Cajon Blvd. at 30th--skipped class from schools like San Diego, Hoover and Crawford Highs to line the Presidential route. We all came to see the President head to San Diego State, where he would accept an honorary degree and to deliver a little remembered speech. Many of those former teens watching from the curb are now celebrating 50-year reunions. JFKs last day in North Park and San Diego was 50 years ago this Thursday. Below is a link to the text of that speech.
|President Kennedy at SDSU on June 6, 1963.|
GUEST BLOG—San Diego State Library and Information Access--On June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered San Diego State College's commencement address before approximately 30,000 people at the Aztec Bowl. He was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree during the commencement exercise at San Diego State University. It was the first honorary doctoral degree awarded by any California State University campus. Following a letter to President Kennedy in which Associated Students President Bob Weir asked him to consider giving the 1963 commencement address, California Governor Edmund Brown extended a formal invitation to the President on April 18, 1963. On May 16, a letter from Kennedy's aide, Ken O'Donnell, addressed to President Malcolm Love, was received confirming that Kennedy would be honored to accept the honorary degree. In his commencement address he said:
"As a nation, we have no deeper concern, no older commitment and no higher interest than a strong, sound and free system of education for all. In fulfilling this obligation to ourselves and our children, we provide for the future of our nation-and for the future of freedom."
The YouTube feature posted on this blog couples an audio recording of that historic day with a selection of photographs and Daily Aztec articles documenting Kennedy's visit.
|JFK's motorcade on El Cajon Blvd. near Fairmount Blvd.|
JFK's commencement address was covered by KFMB TV-8 San Diego, as part of Kennedy's visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in 1963. This video footage can be viewed at Special Collections' Raising Our Voices multimedia website.
A collection of historic photos and an audio copy of the speech go to: