As 1961 drew to an end, the United States and the Soviet Union were at the height of the Cold War, and Cuba and Berlin were hot spots. In April 1961, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had organized 1,400 armed Cuban exiles in a failed attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. On August 20, 1961, East Germany erected a five foot high concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin and on October 28, 1961, a tense, 16-hour face off occurred at the Berlin Wall between Soviet and American tanks. On August 31, 1961, the Soviet Union began conducting aboveground nuclear tests, detonating perhaps 15 bombs during September 1961. Local newspapers advised Seattleites on how to construct and stock personal nuclear fallout shelters. It was in this context that President John F. Kennedy arrived at Boeing Airport in Seattle, Washington on November 16, 1961 to deliver a major foreign policy speech at the University of Washington Centennial Convocation. He was also in Seattle to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington who first elected to Congress in 1936.
Click here to listen to speech.