The life of the 35th President of the United States was remembered in Springfield, Massachusetts this afternoon. Hundreds of people turned out for a commemoration at the only eternal flame dedicated to John F. Kennedy other than at his gravesite.
It was a solemn tribute on a cloudy damp day in Springfield’s Forest Park, where the eternal flame memorial to John F. Kennedy was established just one year after his assassination. There was a moment of silence. Three red roses were placed at the base of the memorial stone. A wreath was placed at the foot of the eternal flame.
Although not many cities hold ceremonies on the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination—the Kennedy family has always chosen to honor him on his birthday—this was the 49th annual ceremony in Springfield. The crowd estimated at close to 300 people was larger than usual this year, the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Congressman Richard Neal, a former Springfield mayor, said people come each year because of memory and hope.
Charles Ryan, who was mayor when the eternal flame memorial was built in 1964, said the observance endures because it demonstrates how proud people are of Kennedy and what he accomplished in his relatively short life.
The government of Canada chose the Springfield remembrance to honor the late president. Attache’ General Consulate Marc Jacques presented framed photos and plaques commemorating Kennedy’s speech to the Canadian Parliament in 1961 to Congressman Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Kennedy had strong ties to Springfield. It was home to several of his trusted political advisors. He visited often as a U.S. Senator and it was one of his last campaign stops on his way home to Hyannis to await the results of the 1960 presidential election.