RITA FEFOLT: JFK's comments to press remain relevant
Nov. 22 of this year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. One of the highlights of my young life was to have the privilege of shaking the hand of JFK when he visited western Pennsylvania several months before his untimely death.
He was my hero — young, handsome, articulate and, at the time, of the same faith. More importantly, he offered a bright future for America.
As many of our citizens, I can remember where I was and what I was doing when the news broke of the tragedy in Dallas, and somehow I knew our beloved nation would never be the same.
Recently I came across a speech that JFK made to the American Newspaper Publishers Association early in his office. I find it prophetic and timely for the days in which we live.
Here are a few excerpts:
”The word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society. And we as a people are inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it. …
“Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. …
“No president should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding, and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. … For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed. …
“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive.”