November 13, 2003 - Saratogian: Ethiopia RPCV remembers JFK

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By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 11:31 am: Edit Post

Ethiopia RPCV remembers JFK

Ethiopia RPCV remembers JFK

Corps experience connects woman to JFK

JIM KINNEY , The Saratogian


SARATOGA SPRINGS -- City Historian Martha Stonequist said you could always tell when John F. Kennedy was about to walk out into the White House Rose Garden before you could see him.

'It wasn't because people made a lot of noise,' Stonequist said. 'He just had that kind of charisma. He just filled the space in the Rose Garden.'

It was 1962, and Stonequist, then about 25 years old, was in the first large group of Peace Corps volunteers preparing to go overseas. After their training at George Washington University, the group went to the White House so President Kennedy could give them an official send off. For Stonequist, that included a handshake.

'I killed about 10 people fighting my way to the front row,' Stonequist joked.

She said she could tell that Kennedy wore a back brace under his suit that day.

'He was in constant pain,' she said.

It was also obvious that he took great pride in the Peace Corps and the young people who had volunteered, she said.

She has a thank-you letter signed by Kennedy.

Stonequist said she was rehearsing for a Gilbert and Sullivan play near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when some Armenian women arrived and said the president was dead.

'We didn't have to ask whose president they were talking about,' Stonequist said. 'I remember walking home the 10 miles that day.'

She served in the Peace Corps until late 1967.

'That's one experience I don't regret,' she said. 'I learned more from the Ethiopians than they learned from us. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.'

©The Saratogian 2003

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Story Source: Saratogian

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Presidents - Kennedy; COS - Ethiopia



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