Social Bridges sent best wishes to the US this morning as the inauguration of the new President–Joseph R. Biden–commences today. Jean, like many around the world, takes a keen interest in global affairs. The affairs of others and their nations exert an impact on all of us, even when we do not see it directly, and certainly when the impact is direct and obvious.
Her comment caused me think of the presidential inaugurations in my lifetime. While I was alive at Eisenhower’s first inauguration, at 3 years of age it was not on my radar. I have no recollection at his second, in 1957. I was aware there was a President Eisenhower and in fact, in only a few years, I would ask my mother in 1960:
What’s wrong with the president we have now? Why can’t he just stay president?
The election year of 1960 had a profound impact on many people, as evidenced by all the stories that school children repeated from their parents. The two I most recall were:
If Kennedy is elected, he will make us all be Catholics.
If Kennedy is elected, he will take orders from the Pope and the Pope will be running America.
Neither of those things came to pass, of course. As I watched the Inauguration ceremony of President Biden, I was moved, at times to tears, but also with optimism and hope and joy at the opportunity witnessed. Amanda Gorman filled me with awe.
At President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, it was written:
The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as president will be a matter of special pride to millions of Irish-American citizens in the United States.
Kennedy is unmistakably the most “Irish” of any chief executive ever to occupy the White House.
At least half a dozen earlier presidents of this country have had varying degrees of Irish ancestry, but Kennedy is unique in that both his paternal and maternal ancestral lines lead to Ireland.
Kennedy’s paternal great-grandfather, Patrick J. Kennedy, came from County Wexford late in the 1840s as an aftermath of the “potato famine.” His maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald was born in County Kerry, and migrated to Boston in the fourth decade of the Nineteenth century.Kennedy “Most Irish” President. Palladium-Item, Jan 21, 1961, p. 9.
Thank you to all those across the world who send good wishes to the United States, and who join with those of us who choose to create a just world, better than how we found it. Whether or not we are related by ancestry or bonds of choice, let us join together on this important day to remember and honor our common humanity, and to acknowledge that our lives are inextricably bound together.