Kennedy Memorial

U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy greets the crowd at the dedication of Whiskeytown Dam
U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy greets the crowd during the dedication of Whiskeytown Dam. NPS Photo.
Just before he was assassinated, during a conservation and political tour of western states, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy dedicated Whiskeytown Dam in front of several dignitaries and thousands of locals. A year later, a small but formal memorial was dedicated to honor and remember the slain leader at the location he had spoken at. At the Kennedy Memorial today, listen to President Kennedy’s Whiskeytown Dam dedication speech and gaze out at the view the U.S. commander-in-chief enjoyed on September 28th, 1963. Since his speech was about conservation, think about what this word means to you.

Of Kennedy and Carr: Two Speeches and a Memorial

With thousands of Shasta and Trinity county residents in attendance, on September 28th, 1963, President Kennedy dedicated Whiskeytown Dam. In front of several dignitaries as well as the large crowd, Kennedy spoke to the importance of natural resource conservation. With conservation broadly defined as providing for the greatest good for the greatest number for the greatest time, President Kennedy noted that, “The fact of the matter is, as a general rule, every time we bet on the future of this country, we win…Every time we develop the water resources, [or] we set aside recreation areas, we can be sure they will be used.”

Less than two months after Kennedy’s visit to Whiskeytown, the president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The nation was stunned, and many within Shasta County mourned. To remember and honor the slain leader, locals banded together and donated funds to create a small but formal memorial at the site where President Kennedy had recently spoken. Shasta County designated the roadway leading to Whiskeytown Dam as John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive, and on October 11, 1964, the President John F. Kennedy Memorial was dedicated on the side of Whiskeytown Dam. James K. Carr, a Redding local and an official within the Kennedy administration, keynoted the dedication. “Other Septembers and Novembers will come and go,” noted Carr in his speech. “On this nearby mountain 6,000 feet high [Shasta Bally] that looks down on this lake he [Kennedy] helped create, each fall the forested slopes will turn color and people will be reminded of his visit here, his last to California.”

From Florence, Italy to Redding, California: Roberto Ciabani’s Memorial Design

An Italian American artist with ties to Redding, Roberto Ciabani designed the Kennedy Memorial. In his bass relief sculpture, Ciabani depicts the president’s legacy through a series of panels representing specifically the Peace Corps, Defense of Liberty, Civil Rights, conservation (including reclamation), and Kennedy’s Whiskeytown Dam dedication.
The Kennedy Memorial inside Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
The small but formal Kennedy Memorial showcases the legacy of President John F. Kennedy. NPS Photo.

Last updated: August 25, 2020

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