Terry Fay: ‘Ask not what your country …’ | TheUnion.com
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Terry Fay: ‘Ask not what your country …’

It was January 1961, and my sister, Elaine, called me with the most incredible invitation. Would I be interested in coming to Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of John F. Kennedy? Are you kidding? This was an opportunity to be part of history.

A little background: Elaine was a Navy nurse, a lieutenant commander married to an Air Force lieutenant colonel. He worked in the Pentagon, and he was to be in charge of the transportation for the inaugural parade.

I nervously asked my boss at the ad agency where I worked if I could take some time off. She was thrilled that I was going. I packed my best clothes and boarded a Greyhound bus from New York.



There was one slight hitch. A blizzard snowstorm hit the area. The trip took all night, but we arrived safely in Washington, D.C., in the morning. The city never had a storm of this magnitude. My brother-in-law sent a car to pick me up at the bus station. “Don’t let anyone know that I sent a car for you,” his stern military voice warned me. Amazingly, the roads were cleared and ready for the historic event.

My plans to wear my best outfit had to change. It was freezing out there. My sister and I bundled up, brought blankets with us, and settled in on one of the benches to watch the parade. It was amazing and as the hours wore on, people left and we inched closer and closer to the area where Kennedy was giving his inaugural address. It was a scene I’ll never forget.




And now, here it is, 60 years later. There were no crowds, no parade, no marching bands. However, the ceremony took place and on Jan. 20, 2021, we welcomed our 46th president of the United States.

The challenges in our country continue — a worldwide pandemic, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, civil unrest, and mass unemployment. However, President Kennedy’s words spoken that day are still so timely.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Terry Fay

Penn Valley


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