This is one of my favorite moments in Presidential Inauguration history. It came January 20, 1961 (exactly 52 years ago today), when 86-year-old Robert Frost got up to deliver his poem, "Dedication," in honor of President-elect John F. Kennedy.
That was the plan, at least. However, the sun was glaring so brightly that the legendary poet was unable to read from his page. As the crowd began to grow uncertain and increasingly uncomfortable, including those officials behind him (among them Lyndon Johnson who had just been sworn in as Vice President moments earlier, and who tries to help), Frost surprisingly and happily turned the event completely around, and bowled the nation over by reciting from heart another of his poems, "The Gift Outright."
His recitation is immediately followed on the video by the swearing-in of President Kennedy, followed by the first part of his famous, "Ask not what your country can do for you..." address. (The video runs out, but I'll include the continuation after it.)
There's a slight jump in the video, so the introduction and beginning of Mr. Frost's appearance aren't on tape, however it picks up in mid-poem, where his discomfort is becoming more apparent.
And here the video picks up immediately following --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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