UK to commemorate murdered Kennedy
As the world marks the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK, Britain's commemorations will centre on a simple wreath-laying ceremony at the UK memorial dedicated to the president.
John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, in an event that sent shock waves across the world.
And on Friday - exactly 50 years since that day - a wreath will be laid at the Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede in Surrey.
The memorial, opened by the Queen and Jackie Kennedy in 1965, was the answer to demands from the British people for a UK site dedicated to JFK, while Runnymede - where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 - marked Kennedy's dedication to civil rights campaigns.
Professor T ony Badger, chairman of the Kennedy Memorial Trust, which administers the memorial, said: "W e're having a simple ceremony in which we will lay a wreath at the memorial.
"It's simply a mark of respect from the trustees and members of the British political groups to that lasting legacy that the president brought."
He said the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination would be marked worldwide.
"This after all is the president who launched the peace corps and these sorts of international initiatives, he's the president who slightly eased the tensions in the Cold War. F or all those reasons I think Kennedy is going to be remembered," he said.
Prof Badger said the seven-tonne Portland stone memorial inscribed with a quote from Kennedy's famous inaugural address, which sits in an acre of land given to American people, was a response to the "genuine British grief" at Kennedy's assassination.
"What's striking about this memorial is its simplicity, if you compare it to monuments in Washington to dead presidents this is very much down to a natural scale and it's what the Kennedy family particularly liked about it, it appealed to their sense of history and the president's links to Britain."
The trust also runs a scholarship programme which allows "bright British students" to take courses at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), created as a "living memorial" to the President, he said.
Prof Badger, who is also Master of Clare College, Cambridge, said Kennedy's legacy remains strong, even half a century after his death.
"When look back to Kennedy you look back to a young, optimistic, confident president, even at the height of the Cold War, who was comfortable with intellectuals, brought intellectuals into government, and was very different from the conformity and anti-intellectualism of the Eisenhower administration.
"H e had that sort of ease which was very impressive but he also was part of a politics in which money played a very large part, the ability to raise money, the ability to personally campaign for long periods of time, and those are legacies which have very much come through.
"And yet despite all of that still had problems in governing, still had problems in getting legislation through congress. Indeed when he was assassinated his two major pieces of reform, a major tax cut and civil rights bill were stalled in congress.
"I think in the United States at the moment there is a sort of romantic nostalgia for the President that's not necessarily shared by academics and analysts and there is also - there always was - a part of the United States that was deeply distrustful of the president, indeed hated him."
Geri Silverstone, spokesman for the National Trust which owns the site at Runnymede, said: "The National Trust has been looking after this site since the 60s and is really proud to be associated with connecting special places to people.
"We want to make sure that the event on November 22, the 50th anniversary, is marked respectfully and is a commemoration of the president's life."
He said the memorial actually lies on American soil after one acre of land at Runnymede was given to the American people in 1965.
"T he whole site is built on symbolism, so we have the hawthorn tree to represent President Kennedy's Catholicism, the ha-ha (a turfed ditch) to represent the union between the United States and the United Kingdom, and walking up to the memorial there are 50 steps to represent the 50 states of the United States of America.
"W e have around 100,000 people come to this site throughout the year and they come from all over the place, from locally and from all over the world. When you're here you normally bump into a couple of American families who are really excited.
"The Americans really understand the significance of this site. T heir constitutional history starts back at the Boston Tea Party so they're desperate to understand more about the history and the significance of the constitution so they borrow ours.
"Our constitution probably can date back to 1215 so for them they can understand the merits of why it's important - that's probably why there's so many lawyers in America."