Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Remembering President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Today marks the 53rd year since the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. For the sake of history, here's an April 25th, 1963 newsreel from Britain discussing his speech on Laos and efforts to stop the emerging conflicts there.

Here's an example of the stamps in circulation in Laos at the time depicting the work of the Red Cross:

Although most people in Laos at the time never saw this newsreel, this would have been a few weeks after the main Lao New Year celebrations for Year of the Rabbit. This footage took place 10 years after Laos was recognized as an independent constitutional monarchy in 1953.

Previously, Laos had been part of French Indochina. 70 years earlier from when this footage was shot, Laos had been incorporated into French Indochina in 1893 in the aftermath of the Franco-Siamese War.

Here we can see a photo by Marie Clai of soldiers giving out food in 1963 in Laos:

In August, 1963 Laos will receive its first four modified T-28 Trojans for the Royal Lao Air Force to combat insurgents. In December, 1963, King Sisavong would promote Vang Pao to Brigadier General in the Royal Lao Army.

For Lao, November would be memorable to many who were alive during the time as the beginning of the disastrous Battle for Lak Sao in the Lao province of Bolikhamsai, led by General Phoumi Nosavan, that would last until January, 1964.

As a consequence of this battle, the Royal Lao Army will lose a general reserve force, and it constituted the second major military defeat of the the Royal Lao Army under the command of General Phoumi Nosavan, who was defeated at the Battle of Luang Namtha in the previous year.

For a little further context: John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States, serving from 1961-1963. He died a the age of 46. He had roots in Brookline, Massachusetts, and served in the US Naval Reserve in World War 2 as a lieutenant. He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, although his death continues to be controversial among many conspiracy theorists. He is also remembered by many for nearly taking the world to war with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco of 1961. He is one of four sitting US presidents in history who've been assassinated, along with Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley.

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