SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Beehive State was buzzing this time 60 years ago as U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a local appearance among thousands of Utahns in September 1963.
This was JFK’s first trip to Utah as president and would sadly be his last as exactly eight weeks later he would be fatally shot while sitting in his limousine as he waved to a crowd in Dallas, Texas.
It all started with a trip worthy of a president, spanning across 11 states over the course of just 5 days, starting in Pennsylvania and ending in California.
JFK arrived in Salt Lake City on September 26, 1963. Residents would come from far and wide that day, with over 125,000 people said to have lined the city streets to catch a glimpse of the president.
Riding on his famed convertible limousine, his motorcade made way from the airport down North Temple, then briefly paraded down State Street before finally arriving at Hotel Utah.
That night, JFK made a key speech at the Salt Lake City Tabernacle in Temple Square, touching on foreign policy and the expansion of communism.
Even more, he called on Utahns to work together in helping to create a unified nation — ending with a quote by Brigham Young stating “Go as pioneers to a land of peace.”
His speech was so moving that the U.S. Department of the Interior used it to create a film, paired with vocals from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, about “America the Beautiful” and conservation.
All these years later, many still have yet to forget the momentous visit he made to Utah and the impact it had on our history.