Return JFK Monument to Where It Belongs at Plaza

By Littlepage, Ronald L. | The Florida Times Union, July 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

Return JFK Monument to Where It Belongs at Plaza


Littlepage, Ronald L., The Florida Times Union


Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

What follows is one of those intriguing tales that's often found floating around city government.

It's not of earth-shaking importance, but it involves a wrong that should be corrected. The story began on Oct. 18, 1960.

For lovers of politics and history, that was quite a day in Jacksonville. Richard M. Nixon brought his presidential campaign to the city that morning and his Democratic challenger visited Hemming Park that evening.

Here's how a front-page story in the next day's Florida Times-Union described the appearance by the senator from Massachusetts.

"A screaming, jubilant mob descended on John F. Kennedy last night at Hemming Park and pushed, crushed and crowded, in an effort to get near the Democratic candidate for president with an enthusiasm that amounted to near-hysteria."

Kennedy, of course, went on to win the presidency. He was assassinated in November 1963.

After the young president's murder, a local labor union decided a memorial should be placed at Hemming Park to commemorate his appearance there.

A piece of gray marble with a bust of Kennedy was placed in the park with the following inscription:

"In memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963, thirty-fifth president of the United States, 1961-1963. This memorial erected by the Jacksonville Building and Construction Trade Council to commemorate John F. Kennedy's personal address in this park on October 18, 1960."

You can still see the memorial today. The only problem is this: It's at Hogan Creek Tower on Broad Street, a long way from where Kennedy spoke. …

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