Once inside the church, Kennedy bore witness to the end of a domestic Cold War when he and Johnson took their seats beside Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman. Ike and Harry had been openly feuding since Eisenhower’s first inaugural, when he declined to enter the White House for a farewell cup of tea with the Trumans. The Dallas Morning News
Southern Calls, Vol. 15, March 2017
Sam Rayburn was the 43rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and is the longest-serving speaker in American history. He served from 1940-47, 1949-53, and 1955-61, a total of 17 years, two months, and two days. Rayburn represented Texas’ 4th congressional district as a Democrat from 1913 to 1961.
Oct. 9, 1961. . . The leader of the New Frontier then went to Room 729 at Baylor Medical Center to say his goodbyes to the most powerful member of Washington’s old guard, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, who was dying of cancer.
(Two days later, Rayburn was in a coma.)
When JFK returned to North Texas as an honorary pallbearer for Rayburn, the critical mass of American leaders who descended for the small-town service was an eerie foreshadowing of more traumatic gatherings down the road.
If Nov. 22, 1963, was the blood-soaked end of our national innocence, the passing of Sam Rayburn two years earlier was a soft-focus farewell to a Capraesque America . . .
The Dallas Morning News (excerpts)
By Alan Peppard
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