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Kennedy: Would Have Taken Years to Recover if Meredith Had Been Killed or Injured

Oct. 4, 1962 - President Kennedy said today that it would have taken the U.S. and Mississippi years to recover if James H. Meredith had been injured or killed in the rioting at the University of Mississippi Sunday night. He made the remark in a telephone conversation with five marshals who were cited for especially courageous action in standing up to the mob. The five met with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy today in his office. The Attorney General telephoned the President at the White House, where the President was resting with a cold. “I am sure you realize how important your services were,” the President said, “and how serious it would have been if you had failed and they had taken Mr. Meredith and there had been his death or he had been hurt in any way. I want you to know how grateful we are to you for holding the line for five or six hours with every provocation and great danger.” Of the five men, two were regular deputy marshals. They were Joseph A. Gilliand Jr. of Norfolk, Va., and John R. Alexander of San Antonio, Tex. The three others, deputized as marshals, were Charles B. Chamblee, a border patrol officer of New Orleans; Robert L. Biles, a prison employee in Atlanta, and Lloyd E. Marshall, another prison officer, of Leavenworth, Tex.


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