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LBJ Speaks at Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Dinner in NYC

Feb. 5, 1964 - President Johnson flew into New York tonight to pay tribute to his predecessor and to promise to carry on President Kennedy’s fight against mental disabilities. At the second annual awards dinner of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation at the Hotel Americana, Mr. Johnson saluted the slain President for his pioneering work in the “greatly misunderstood and neglected” field of combating mental disabilities.

“With his memory and spirit to inspire us, with his words and his works to guide us,” the President told 1,300 at the dinner, “we shall live up to his trust. We shall finish his fight, and we shall conquer mental retardation, and mental illness, and poverty, and every other foe of the land he loved and the people he served.” Present at the dinner were Mrs. Rose Kennedy, the late President’s mother; Robert Kennedy, his brother; and Mrs. Eunice Shriver, his sister.

President Johnson flew into Kennedy Airport by Air Force jet, arriving at 4:34 p.m. to be greeted by Mayor Robert Wagner. Together they took off at 4:41 p.m. in a Marine Corps helicopter to fly to the Wall Street heliport. Four police helicopters and two Marine copters provided an aerial escort for the flight to Manhattan, where the Presidential chopper set down at 4:53 p.m.  A motorcade took President Johnson by an unpublicized route to the Hotel Carlyle, where he was installed for his stay, in the apartments formerly reserved for President Kennedy. The suite is now reserved exclusively for Presidential use, according to the hotel manager.

Security precautions for the President’s trip were the tightest in the memory of veteran police officers. When his helicopter touched down at Coenties Slip and South St., his helicopter escort maintained an aerial umbrella overhead. Two police launches and two fireboats stood offshore, their decks lined with scuba divers ready for any contingency. On shore, watchtowers were set up on tall buildings at the foot of Wall Street and along South Street, and several hundred police, augmented by a huge Secret Service detail, provided an on-the-ground shield of human bodies.

As the President stepped into his waiting limousine, with Mayor Wagner at his side, he waved through an open window to photographers. The window was then rolled up, and a wall of men moved in around the car. The motorcade moved uptown heavily guarded by motorcycle men and Secret Service cars.


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