EDITOR’S NOTE: Imagine Nashua: Then & Now is a weekly photo column by Don Himsel. Each week, he will feature an old photo within a more recent photo, along with the story behind it.
I’ve said this before: You can’t swing a dead cat around here during the months before a New Hampshire primary election without smacking a candidate. Not that I’d want to smack a candidate with a dead cat. Some might. But that discussion would take place in another section of the paper.
Much has been written about John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to Nashua. Many still around can remember the visit themselves. There were two in 1960. To commemorate Kennedy kicking off his campaign, a familiar bust has a place of honor front and center on the sidewalk in front of City Hall, where this Associated Press photo was made that January 25.
The JFK Library has archived remarks from Kennedy’s New Hampshire engagements, including ones from a television appearance in November of that year in Manchester. In it, Kennedy answers some questions, including this one – which, 55 years later, holds some significance:
“Your next question, Jack, comes from Jacksonville, Fla.: ‘What will you do about Castro?’
“… Our biggest problem would be to contain Castro, to prevent him spreading his influence throughout all of Latin America …” And later, “… These people will feel they have no chance, and then, of course, they will listen to Castroes.”
“This is the key to Latin America,” Kennedy said. “If that should ever crumble, and Castro should spread his power, then our security would be directly threatened. I would put this directly at the top. On the question of Castro, I would attempt to tell the people of Cuba by every known way, including radio and television, and today we have no radio or television to Cuba from the Government, telling them that we want them to be free, that Castro is past. And by working with the people of Latin America and the governments trying to isolate Castro until finally the people of Cuba can be free again.”
Well, it looks like five-plus decades later, they’re on their way. Just last week, President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro, the former anti-Batista fighter, revolutionary and current acting head of the country now that his brother Fidel is ill.
So JFK came, and went, from New Hampshire like so many others have, and it’s starting again. Enjoy the ride.
“… But I believe tomorrow is our opportunity. Tomorrow I believe the people of this country will choose to meet their obligations as citizens, and among them and in the lead will be the great state of New Hampshire.” – JFK, Victory Park, Manchester, Nov. 7, 1960.
Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or DHimsel@nashuatelegraph.com, or on Twitter @Telegraph_DonH.