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Remembering Kennedy's Famous Berlin Speech 50 Years Later

50 years ago today, president John F. Kennedy made an impassioned speech in front of Berlin's city hall, declaring famously, "Ich bin ein Berliner."


50 years ago today, American President John F. Kennedy made an impassioned speech in front of Berlin's City Hall, declaring famously, "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner). The speech was watched by 1.1 million—more than 50 percent of Berlin’s population—and from the other side of the border, by small groups of East Berliners unable to even wave because of the presence of the East German People's Police. When Kennedy declared, "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, 'Ich bin ein Berliner'," he gave a morale boost to West Germans who were still coping with the fact that the Wall had recently been erected.

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Happy Birthday Mr. President: Remembering Marilyn's Stunning Performance on JFK's Birthday

Everyone held their breath as the night Marilyn Monroe seductively serenaded John F. Kennedy for his birthday.

In May 1962, John F. Kennedy headed to New York's Madison Square Garden to celebrate his birthday with a cozy 15,000 or so guests. Hollywood heavy-hitters were there, including some of the performers for the night, like Ella Fitzgerald and Henry Fonda. Marilyn Monroe was also on the bill. There were already rumors swirling that Kennedy and Monroe were having an affair, but there was an unwritten rule with the press back then that you didn't report on such matters. The speculation only added to the tension in the air. Noticeably absent that night was Jackie Kennedy.

Monroe's legendary tardiness was made a running joke throughout the program and she was nowhere to be found four to five hours into the program. Peter Lawford—a member of the Rat Pack, JFK's brother-in-law, and the MC for the night—introduced her onstage three times before she finally appeared. Lawford would say, "Mr. President, the late Marilyn Monroe"—which feels ironic now, as Monroe would die three months later, a suicide at 36 years old.

In reality, Monroe was backstage literally being sewn into the now infamous, skin-tight gown with 2,500 rhinestones. She wore nothing underneath. A gasp let out in the audience when she appeared onstage, just as JFK's birthday cake was being wheeled out. Then everyone held their breath as she seductively serenaded the President.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Cheated on His Wife and Got Drunk; Big Deal

A writer asks us to stop ignoring the fact that the civil rights leader was a human being.


For years now the white power organization Stormfront has parked an anti-Martin Luther King Jr. website at MartinLutherKing.org, the hope being, presumably, that people innocuously searching for information about the civil rights leader will be shocked upon discovering that King drank alcohol and had extramarital affairs. Today, hopefully, the purveyors of that website may think about taking it down.

That's because in today's Washington Post, on the 43rd anniversary of King's assassination, writer Hampton Sides makes the very important, oft-overlooked point that a man's flaws don't necessarily outweigh their contributions to the world. After noting that one of King's mistresses had spent the night with King the evening before he was killed, Sides writes, "King was a human being: flawed, vulnerable, uncertain about the future, subject to appetites and buffeted by the extraordinary stresses of his position. His civil rights cause was holy, but he was a sinner."

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