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John F. Kennedy History, Memory, Legacy: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Author: John Delane Williams, Robert G. Waite, Gregory S. Gordon
Source: University of North Dakota


On September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy traveled to Grand Forks, North Dakota, greeted its citizens while touring the city, and delivered a speech at the University of North Dakota Field House, which addressed important issues still vital today: environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, economic development, the struggle between democracy and totalitarianism, and the importance of education and public service. The University conferred on the President an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Over 20,000 people assembled on campus that day to see JFK -- the largest campus gathering in UND history. Tragically, less than two months later, the thirty-fifth President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas. To commemorate the forty-fifth anniversary of the President's Grand Forks visit, and in tandem with the University's one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary, UND organized a September 25-27, 2008 conference to foster interdisciplinary discussion and analysis of the issues addressed in JFK's UND speech, as well as other significant issues of the Kennedy era, including civil rights, space exploration, the nuclear threat, and the influence of the media on presidential politics. The Conference also explored issues related to the President's assassination within weeks of his UND visit. This publication of conference proceedings collects the papers presented during this conference as well as transcripts of significant addresses and discussions.