Dakota Datebook

President Kennedy at UND

Saturday, November 22, 2008


On September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the convocation of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, Kennedy followed with a speech on the importance of conservation.

The speech was not his most memorable, but for the North Dakotans who attended, it didn’t matter. In a recent interview, Grand Forks native and UND graduate Lawrence Hanson recalled a sense of isolation and inferiority in North Dakota. So “the fact that Kennedy was coming to see us,” Hanson recalled, “was a very big deal. It excited everybody…”

When Kennedy was assassinated two months later on this date in 1963, the North Dakotans who had just welcomed the President to their home state felt the loss that much more keenly.

Haga, Chuck. “JFK: ‘Something Bigger Than Life’.” Grand Forks Herald September 21, 2008. http://www.grandforks.com/articles/?page=view_article&id=87219&property_id=40.
Piper, Marion J. Dakota Portraits: A Sentimental Journal of Pictorial History. Mohall, ND, 1964.

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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