I’m in Fort Worth, Texas for meetings and spent last night at the Fort Worth Hilton because it’s close to the meeting location. When I learned the hotel also is the site of John F. Kennedy’s last speech, it gave me a chill.
JFK spoke here on the morning of November 22, 1963, at a breakfast meeting of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. For a man who was a forceful orator and turned many a memorable phrase, the speech is a thoroughly unremarkable effort, with a standard joke about Jackie Kennedy’s celebrity status, recognition of the politicians and dignitaries who were present, and then a discussion of Fort Worth’s contribution to the continuing need to maintain a strong defense against the Communist threat. The speech, of course, gave no hint that the history of the country and the world would shift forever a few hours later due to an assassin’s bullet.
There is a little plaza next to the hotel that commemorates the occasion with a statue of JFK, some photos, and some quotes from his speeches. One of them is: “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”. With the red brick hotel looming in the background, it’s a sobering place.