Ted Sorenson Discussion

On Sept. 25-27, 2008 I was a presenter @ a JFK conference with JFK’s speech writer & confidante, Ted Sorenson, in Grand Forks, N.Dak. @ the Univ. of N.Dak.  The occasion was the 45th aniversary of JFK receiving an honorary doctor’s degree from UND.

I had been present that day, Sept. 25th,1963, @ JFK’s speech (see other posts here). I was 15 yrs. old & ended up sitting in the front row with one of my best friends & next door neighbor, Bruce Folsom.

To be invited 45 yrs.later by UND Prof. Dr. John Williams to recount that day was a real thrill for me. Ted Sorenson’s keynote address took the form of an on stage conversation @ the Chester Fritz Auditorium on campus.  The interviewer was Greg Gordon of the UND Law School.  There were about 1000 people in attendance.

During the question answer session that followed I asked Sorenson why JFK hadn’t mentioned in his 63 UND appearance the fact that the day before the nuclear test ban treaty had been passed by the US Congress.  He said he wasn’t in GF for the ceremony but knew that JFK started talking about the ban within a few days. Interestingly Sorenson response included a sarcastic reference to the sense he had that I was asking the question to make the GF visit sound more important as in “there, you have your plug for GF”.  Maybe I was but it seemed like a cheap shot on his part.

At one point in the question answer session a man in the far back row sitting all by himself got Sorenson’s attention and asked if JFK’s early 60s speech about “secret societies” was about “Illuminati”  type organizations? Sorenson quickly brushed the questioner aside and the moderator, Greg Gordon, diverted the discussion to another questioner. Interesting.

The 3rd time I talked to Sorenson was the next day. There was a ceremony honoring JFK @ the Old Main ‘Eternal Flame Plaza” next to the present day Twamly Hall admin. bld. Sorenson gave a short talk in the 95 degree heat and high humidity.

After the talk I engaged him to ask about the material in James Douglas’ book “The DEATH of JFK”.  He wasn’t aware of the book but what was interesting was the fact that I had to start asking the question about Douglas 4 times since he stopped me in mid sentence to deny he knew anything about whatever he thought I was going to ask about.

What he was referring to was the question from the night before about JFK’s supposed “secret society” speech. He assumed I was asking about that again and maybe mistook me for the other questioner. He actually said to me as we stood toe to toe, “I am not going to go to my grave taking the blame for JFK’s death because of a speech I wrote that people say got JFK killed by a “secret society”.  The internet presence of this idea is so prevalent that Sorenson seems to assume any stranger that approaches him is likely going to ask about that speech and his responsibility for it.

Backing up a bit my 2nd encounter with Sorenson had been the night before on the elevator @ the Canad Inn where he was staying. I simply greeted him and his escort and said I had enjoyed his speech that night  and mentioned that I was the one that had asked about the test ban treaty. He acknowledged that and said thank you.

The 4th time I talked to TS was @ his book signing Sat. afternoon @ the North Dakota Museum of Art on the UND campus. As he signed my copy I asked him if he thought JFK would have believed in global warming.  He kind of feigned incredulity and said hat JFK would have for sure. Part of the reason for asking the question about global warming was that JFK’s 1963 UND speech had been about saving the environment.

The reason JFK was able to come to GF to get his honorary doctorate was that he was on a 2nd annual “Conservation Tour” & UND was his 3rd stop of about 10. The morning of the day before he had started the trip by visiting the Pinchott National Wildlife Preserve in Pa. where a photo exists with him & Mary Pinchott Meyer  posing before he left for a stop in Duluth, Mn. @ UMD.  Mary Meyer it turns out was purportedly having an affair with JFK and was found murdered along a Georgetown canal tow path in 1964. The book Mary’s Mosaic by Peter Janney came out in 2010 exploring the possibility she was murdered by the CIA because she knew too much about the JFK assassination.

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