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VIDEO VAULT | John F. Kennedy spoke in Las Vegas two months before his assassination

President John Kennedy in Las Vegas. 9-28-63. Milt Palmer photo.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy scholars, conspiracy theorists and everyone in between has been pouring over newly de-classified documents concerning the assassination of the 35th president in November of 1963.

Two months before his fateful visit to Dallas, JFK came here.

“It was a day Las Vegans say they'll never forget,” reported News 3’s Joel Grover on November 22, 1983. “That day a little over 20 years ago that President John F. Kennedy came to town.”

Optimistic headlines beamed from the Sun and the Review-Journal. The president was coming! A welcoming party included Nevada Democratic committeewoman Virginia Catt.

“I recall the first time seeing Air Force One,” Catt told Grover. “And the president coming down and greeting all the dignitaries there. But when he got to me, he took my hand and said, ‘How nice to see you again, Virginia’."

Kennedy also paused to share a moment with a Las Vegas police officer working security.

“As he came toward me, I just said ‘Mister President’, and he came over to me and shook my hand and asked how I was and everything and he said some private little joke that I can’t remember,” said retired LVPD Lieutenant John Sleeper.

Once at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Kennedy made sure to single out locals, among others.

“Senator Cannon, Governor Sawyer, Secretary Udall, Senator Bible. Mr. Mayor....”

The actual speech was not that memorable. Today the index cards he used for the occasion are available along with some scrawled notes. A typed transcript distributed to the press is available through the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library website.

The visit was front page news in the local papers in 1963. 20 years later, it was a fond memory for a Nevada friend.

“Youngsters out at the schools were just very outgoing and very pleased to have the President of the United States here,” said Senator Howard Cannon the year after he lost a bid for re-election. “And they were really showing it. And the crowd showed it.”

Click here to read the full text of Kennedy's speech at the Las Vegas Convention Center


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