Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remembering JFK's Final Birthday on the Yacht Sequoia

 Forty-nine years ago, on May 29, 1963, first Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wanted to celebrate President Kennedy's 46th birthday in a very special way.  She knew he was always happiest when he was on the water, and surrounded by family and friends, so she organized an evening cruise aboard the presidential yacht, U.S.S. Sequoia.

In his memoir, Mrs. Kennedy and Me (Gallery/Simon and Schuster, April 2012), Secret Service Agent Clint Hill remembers the evening in great detail.

It was a dreary, rainy evening, making the open-air top deck unusable, so everybody was crammed inside the main and aft salons.  While Agents Floyd Boring, Ron Pontius and I stood post on the exterior walkways, the guests inside dined on roast filet of beef and 1955 Dom Perignon champagne.  People were in lively spirits to begin with, and as the night wore on, and the champagne flowed, the party got louder and livelier. There were plenty of toasts, and after birthday cake at the dining table, the president opened presents in the aft salon. Then the dancing started.  They were doing the twist, the cha-cha, and everything in between.  I don't think I had ever seen the president and Mrs. Kennedy having more fun. . . Nobody wanted the night to end. 

Tonight, May 29, 2012, I am privileged to join Clint Hill as he relives that historic birthday party aboard the Sequoia for a special memorial cruise with distinguished guests.  I can hardly wait!

Check back here for details and photos tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.  Your legacy continues.