For Immediate Release: November 21, 2006
Further information: Brent R. Carney (617) 514-1662, Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org
Maura Porter (617) 514-1609, email@example.com
Boston, MA – The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library today announced that it has declassified and made available for research a typewritten “diary” by President Kennedy’s National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy. The “diary” consists of individual documents often typed on a daily basis with the working title of “Memoranda for the Record”. Bundy’s “diary” descriptions offer an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the Kennedy White House and glimpses of the President from one of his closest advisors. The speech writing process, the political decisions of the day, the DC social scene, the President’s attention to detail and the President’s humor are all depicted through Bundy’s eyes.
One entry is particularly insightful: a 28-page overview of President Kennedy’s trip to Europe in the summer of 1963, a trip that included the now famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” address. Bundy’s account reads like a day journal with information on travel, social events and speech preparations.
From Bundy’s narrative, the speech preparations were complicated with draft upon draft being worked on simultaneously between Bundy, Theodore Sorensen and the President. Despite the work by many hands, it was the President himself who conceived the idea of using German phrases in his address. As Bundy wrote:
On the way up to Berlin in the airplane in the morning the President kept right on working both at his arrival statement and still more at the Rathaus speech. It was on this trip that he conceived the idea of talking about civis Romanus sum and Ich bin ein Berliner … Indeed, now that I think about it, I think those two or three German lessons were what gave him both the idea of Ich bin ein Berliner and the courage, in the end, to use the phrase himself.
President Kennedy’s speech in Berlin is now considered a benchmark in Presidential history and certainly one of the best remembered addresses of President Kennedy. But what this “diary” offers is a perspective of the event from the inside, from the members of the President’s own staff, which seemed, according to Bundy, to be as responsive as the crowd in Berlin. Bundy writes:
There have been so many accounts of the day in Berlin that one more is not necessary for the visible events. Nevertheless it is important to remember that everything that happened in that day occurred within the framework of the most intense atmosphere of joy that I at least have ever seen. And joy is the right word. I was struck throughout the day by the fact that the crowds were more happy than intense … the millions in Berlin, led by a few dozen of their own leaders and a few dozen visitors, held a colossal celebration in honor of the homecoming of the man who is most important to the lives of all Berliners.
The “diary” was donated to the Kennedy Library by the estate of McGeorge Bundy, and covers a period from December of 1962 through late July of 1963. Today’s opening is part of the White House Subject Files of the Personal Papers of McGeorge Bundy. The White House Subject Files series contain personal correspondence, memoranda, photographs, printed materials, and textual as well as audiovisual material relating to McGeorge Bundy’s service under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Several “diary” entries are still pending declassification review and will be made available as soon as the review is completed.
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