Video and MSNBC Story: The Kennedys Legacy- What Does JFK Inaugural Mean 50 Years Later?

Here's a video about President Kennedy's Inaugural, as well as a MSNBC story about the legacy of JFK and what he meant for America.

“Martyrs are powerful things,” historian and author Rick Perlstein told BLTWY, noting that you don't see TV memorials to Dwight Eisenhower or most other presidents. “It's so interesting, this line we have between the presidents we think of as heroes and and the ones we think of as goats.”

“The Kennedy image of a wonderfully attractive, energetic, aspiring family was in many ways the American ideal,” author and historian Thomas Maier, who wrote The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings told BLTWY.

For Maier, Kennedy's inauguration speech, that cold January day “marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the new America we live in. This is when it started,” he says. An an Irish-Catholic, Kennedy symbolized the fact that America was now officially more than a white Anglosaxon nation, Maier says.

Naturally, amid all the events Thursday -- the Congressional event, the Caroline Kennedy led tribute with civil rights leaders and astronauts, the concert in the evening at the Kennedy Center and the TV specials — there will be many different takes on what JFK's presidency means to America. As The National Symphony Orchestra Everyone has their own way of making sense of a relationship that tragically ended, of separating reality and nostalgia.

Furthermore, amid all the photographs and videos of JFK's charming smile, Jackie's perfect wave and the happy little children, there's something a little eery. Perich described the feeling of walking through Avedon's portraits of this glamorous family, taken right before he took office.

"There is so much excitement around them, but you know all the drama to come and you feel tense for them. You just want to protect them in some way.”less