Caroline Kennedy celebrated the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland by lighting an 'eternal flame' to commemorate one of country's most fondly remembered occasions.
Caroline made an appearance for Ireland's 'JFK 50: The Homecoming' celebration centered on the town of New Ross, in County Wexford where Patrick Kennedy originally departed the country during the potato famine of 1848. The elder Kennedy immigrated to Boston, where JFK would be born and began his path towards presidency.
Caroline's late brother, JFK, visited his great-grandfather's hometown in 1963, marking the first and only American president to be of Irish and Catholic descent. Ireland's JFK festivities included a daylong street party that Caroline Kennedy, sister Jean and son Jack all attended. The Kennedy's paid tribute to JFK by opening a new visitors center at eh Kennedy family homestead, joyously cutting a blue ribbon to mark the occasion.
Caroline, Jean and Jack all held torches that they brought together to create the eternal flame. The light was captured and encased into an iron globe. Making the eternal flame even more symbolic, the torch had been carried in Olympics fashion, transported from JFK's burial plot in Arlington Cemetery to the New Ross dockside by land, sea and air.
"May it be a symbol of the fire in the Irish heart, imagination and soul," Prime Minister Enda Kenny said to over 10,000 spectators who gathered for the event. Among those involved in transporting the flame, which was the first time it had made a journey of such proportions, was Ireland's Special Olympics team. JFK's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver is credited with founding the Special Olympics, a movement that has since grown into an internationally recognized organization.
Caroline Kennedy's son, 20-year-old Jack, embodied the quintessential all-American aura that famous families have strived to emulate. Jack looked boyishly handsome, sporting floppy brown hair and a clean-shaven smile, while wearing a simple suit and striped tie. Caroline Kennedy bestowed heavy responsibilities upon Jack, who she chose to give a speech during the ceremony.
"We have been told over and over that America is no longer the great country that it was when my grandfather was president," Jack said. The Yale student acknowledged the "series of problems that previous generations refused to address" listing US debt and conflicts in the Middle East as problems that would be impossible to solve by "cynics and skeptics." Sounding every bit as authentic as JFK himself, Jack cited Irish strength in overcoming poverty and emigration, expressing his hopes that the current generation will find similar means of revival.
"The flow from this flame can truly light the world," Jack asserted. And with that, both Ireland and America's hope for the future was swiftly reignited.