John Kennedy’s inauguration fell on a bitterly cold day, with a blizzard the night before the ceremony having filled the streets with snow. But as the new president rose to deliver his address to the throng in front of the windswept Capitol, the skies, at least, had cleared. Among the dignitaries gathered to watch the proceedings from the huge grandstand ringing the rostrum where Kennedy spoke was Arnold Heeney, Canada’s ambassador to the United States. In the midst of his second posting as Ottawa’s man in Washington, Heeney had initially expected the day’s main event to be a boring affair. Instead, he admitted that it had all been “pretty impressive, in fact very—and the reason was the young man himself, tall, serious, young and really very strong.” Speaking of a torch being passed to a new generation of Americans, Kennedy called for a fresh approach to foreign affairs. To “those old allies,” like Canada, “whose cultural and spiritual origins we share,” the president pledged “the loyalty of faithful friends.” But, he cautioned these allies, “united, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.” Throughout his presidency, Kennedy would often find himself at odds with his old allies in Canada. Yet just as often, despite considerable sound and fury and due to the diligent work of diplomats such as Heeney, the close cooperation that characterized US–Canada relations continued. As for the inaugural address, impressed with the new president’s rousing call for public service, Heeney judged that the speech would “rank with Lincoln.” Moreover, he sensed that Washington “is in for a rapid change—which will be good.”...
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