It was one of the more awkward moments in President John F. Kennedy's inauguration — poet Robert Frost stumbling, fighting against wind and solar glare to read the poem he had written especially for the occasion.
You can see the concern on the new president's face as Frost struggled, but the 83-year-old poet, ever the trooper, forged on, throwing away the script and launching into his poem — from memory.
JFK may have not shared first lady Jackie Kennedy's passion for fine art, classical music, or art films, but he did appreciate the power of poetry. And there was no poet he revered more than Robert Frost.
One of the remarkable speeches of his presidency was delivered on Oct. 26, 1963, less than month before his death, at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.
The speech doesn't deal with foreign or domestic policy or politics, per se — it is a recognition of the vital role the artist plays in a free society, and on the day we remember JFK's death 50 years ago, it is a life affirming message.