Today we mark the birthday of our first president, George Washington, which was actually February 22. The holiday, however, has become widely-known as Presidents’ Day to honor all who have held the office, and so is also an opportunity to remember our 35th president, John F. Kennedy.
In the 1960s, February 22 was a federal holiday, no matter what day of the week it fell (Lincoln’s February 12 birthday, incidentally, was never a federal holiday). On all three times it rolled around during his administration, President Kennedy found time to relax. In 1961, after a series of morning briefings at the White House, he played nine holes of golf in the afternoon, followed by a few more meetings and then dinner at a friend’s home. In 1963, he was at the Kennedy family compound in Palm Beach, Fla. He went to the beach in the morning and cruised on the yacht Honey Fitz in the afternoon.
On February 22, 1962, he was also in Palm Beach. He had flown down from Washington earlier in the day, accompanied by the family of astronaut John Glenn. They would all attend a medal ceremony in Glenn’s honor the next day at Cape Canaveral after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20.
It was Kennedy’s first visit to the Cape, and he received a brief tour of launch facilities before pinning NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal on Glenn’s lapel. The president would come to the space center on two more occasions during his time in office. We cover all three visits with multi-page photo spreads in our new book, The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy, along with detailed captions providing the rich historical background for each image. By John Bisney for Retrospaceimages Blog.
This book is now available. Follow the affiliate link below to view on Amazon.
President John F. Kennedy (at bottom of airplane stairs) and members of John Glenn’s family exit Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 22, 1962. Walking down the stairs behind Kennedy are Glenn’s wife, Annie; his daughter, Lyn; and his son David.