The day after the assassination, the performance of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” ran as scheduled in London’s Old Vic theater. When the play ended, Sir Laurence Olivier stepped forward, raised his hands, and said that instead of applause the actors would rather stand with the audience for two minutes of remembrance. The great actor and director arranged for the silence to be broken by the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Since his death, the legacy of JFK has touched lives the world over. David Miliband, a Briton, is typical. He studied in the U.S. on a scholarship from the Kennedy Memorial Trust, and went on to serve as his country’s foreign secretary.
“Today Kennedy remains a repository of hope not because he was assassinated but because the things he said and did created hope,” Miliband says. “There is a huge sense of promise unfulfilled. His vision was utterly inspiring.”
At Runnymede, carved on a rock, is a sentence from JFK’s 1961 inauguration address that still resonates around the globe: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Munene is a 32-year-old Kenyan. His mother chose that name when she gave birth to him in the U.S. while on a student exchange program. He has studied the American president more than the average Kenyan, including reading Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage.”
He has also studied a program made possible by JFK through the family trust when he was a senator that took dozens of African students to the U.S. to further their education. One person in the program was Barack Obama Sr., the current president’s father.
Munene, who works in information technology, likes to play soccer, wearing a jersey with “JFK” emblazoned on it. When they see it “people say, ‘Are you going to be Kenya’s president?’ ... It’s quite a fun name.”