Teenage Bill Clinton Shakes Hands with President John F. Kennedy
More than five decades ago, on July 24, 1963, a young Bill Clinton shook hands with President John F. Kennedy in the Rose Garden of the White House. Clinton was a 16-year-old young man attending the American Legion Boys Nation program.
The moment lasted only a few brief seconds, but that handshake between the teenage Clinton and JFK would inspire a lifetime of public service. In fact, approximately 30 years later, in January 1993, Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd president of the United States of America.
In the telling photo, a clearly impressed Bill Clinton leans forward to shake the hand of President Kennedy who looks back at him with the ease and confidence of a politician who had shaken many such eager hands over his career.
Richard Stratton, who was President of Boys Nation and had organized the White House trip, later recalled it was a “beautiful bright summer day” and that the group of teenage boys “sat there, riveted to attention” as the charming young 35th President of the United States came out to greet them.
Years later, when Clinton himself was President, he is quoted as saying… “I was about the third or fourth person in, and he [President Kennedy] started here and I sort of muscled my way up.”
“He was quite generous, he went down the line and shook hands with a pretty good number of us who were there.”
“And I was fortunate that someone took a picture of it and gave it to me so I was always able to remember it.”
It has been stated that after the White House trip, an enthused Clinton told the other boys in the group he would one day become President himself. Years laters, when Clinton’s dream had become reality, the now men met up once again and took a picture at the exact same spot.