U.S. presidents have used the Oval Office to celebrate family, veterans, diplomats, scientists, golfers, school teachers, newspaper reporters, gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps, and many others — and all with equal impact and resonance.
All are part of President John F. Kennedy’s “Pledge of Allegiance,” a vision for a country he said that “would be civil and loving and hopeful.” But they were also part of a diverse crowd of 50,000 that gathered behind Kennedy on the grand marble platform to honor 11 African Americans, a Navajo, a Japanese American and others imprisoned at Dachau, at the dedication of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was the largest crowd of its time to gather in the East Room, and it came as the United States tightened restrictions on immigration, including for Jews.
Photos of the ceremony were included in a special e-book that chronicles the photojournalism of the WPA (1923–1954) and the Library of Congress’ archives of Getty Images images. Readers can see a selection of images along with brief notes from research associate David Rubinstein, who helped to write the book.