John F. Kennedy Inauguration and Robert Frost

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as president of the United States. For many, the transition from President Eisenhower to this much younger man was the beginning of a new era. This short video captures much of the festivities of the inauguration.

President Kennedy gave one of the more famous inauguration speeches. And, for a more detailed look at the day, check out this longer video that includes Kennedy’s speech.

Robert Frost’s Inaugural Poem(s)

The above video makes a passing reference to poet Robert Frost’s appearance. At the inauguration, the 87-year-old poet attempted to read the poem “Dedication” that he wrote for the occasion.

Frost, however, had difficulty in the bright sun.  Outgoing vice-president Richard Nixon attempted to help by using his hat to block the sun.

This short video below captures Frost’s famous struggle to read in the sunlight’s glare.

But Frost realized he could not get through the poem. So, he instead recited another one of his poems from memory.

He chose a much shorter poem about the United States, “The Gift Outright.” I could not find his full recitation at the inauguration in a video, but here is him reciting the poem on another occasion.

“Dedication,” the poem that Frost had planned to read, ended with the lines: “A golden age of poetry and power / Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.” Little did anyone know that day how short would be that golden age.

What is your favorite inauguration moment? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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