SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Almost a half century ago, President John F. Kennedy made a historic visit to Utah.
Just weeks before his assassination, Kennedy gave a very well received speech at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
This was in late September of 1963 and Sander Vanocur was then a network White House correspondent.
When President Kennedy made that special trip to Salt Lake, my father was both on the scene and impressed.
He says Utahns lined the conservative streets of Salt Lake to greet the young Democratic president.
Thousands more were waiting for him at the Tabernacle.
Vanocur Sr. says the White House was a little nervous about how a Catholic president would be received in Mormon Utah.
But Kennedy, whom he describes as having certain magnetism, quickly won them over.
My dad told me,
“He went to the Tabernacle and, you know, that [Utah] is not exactly big Democratic country and the place was jammed.”
Kennedy struck a chord with the LDS crowd by talking about children being a country's greatest resource.
What is not well known is that Kennedy's own child, Patrick, had died in August of 1963, just days after being born.
Vanocur says the warm reception Kennedy received in Utah was a bit of an awakening for the president.
“I think, all in his party were pleased, of course, but slightly amazed at the reception he got there.”
Reports from the time of Kennedy's visit show two things:
1) It was announced that the president promised to return to Utah someday
2) That the president would also soon travel to Dallas, Texas.
Sadly, only one of those things came to pass.