The day President John F. Kennedy influenced my life

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The White House… We have arrived in Washington, DC. It is cloudy, slight rain.

Tourists gather outside the fence. Photography sessions. Selfies. Group photos. All with the White House in the background. Something to show when you get home.

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Memories come back….

It was in July 1962. I was 18 years old. I had been a foreign exchange student. One year in a high school in northern Iowa, just south of the Minnesota border. At the end of the school year, I got an invitation to visit the White House in Washington together with a group of other foreign students.

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President John F Kennedy received us in Rose Garden. He talked about youth. “You young people are the future of the world”, he said. He talked about his Peace Corps. The Peace Corps was a volunteer program started by President Kennedy where young Americans where sent out into the world in different aid projects. He urged us “young people” to go out in the world. To see, to learn, to help.

Some days in your life are more important than other days. This was one of those days. I was at an age when you were easily impressed. And President Kennedy impressed me. What he said impressed me. Later back in Sweden, I read books about President Kennedy. I read books with his speeches. “Young man, move out into the world” was the message I had taken with me from that sunny day in the garden outside the White House. And I did just that. Some years later, I moved out into the world. Sweden was my birth place. The world became my home.

That day, I had been inside the fence of the White House. Inside the fence, looking out. Today I am outside the fence. Outside, looking in.
More tourists come. More photos are taken. A group of Chinese tourists wants me to take a photo. A photo of the group with the White House in the background.

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It is a peaceful day at the White House. President Trump is in Saudi Arabia…

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