Nightly News   |  November 22, 2013

Kennedy used his words ‘to move us, to lift us’

Author and historian David McCullough speaks with NBC’s Brian Williams about Dallas, Kennedy and the course of history.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> organizers of this event today were wise enough to invite one of the wisest men in our nation to speak here today, the great historian and author david mccullough . after the public ceremony, we met inside the book depository buildi to talk about dallas, about john f. kennedy and the course of history.

>> i think the three things that i would value most, not just from my point of view but from the point of view of the country and the history of the country are the use of language, his use of words to move us, to lift us like lincoln did and franklin roosevelt could, his breaking the barrier of religious rules of who gets in and who doesn't, and no self-pity, no it's time for us, no, and going to the moon. going to the moon -- we take it now for granted. yeah, of course, we went to the moon, ya, mm-hmm.

>> it gave us a national effort.

>> it was emblematic. it was symboli. we can do what we determine if we work together, and we've got to remember that. we have to work together. it's a joint effort, and, yes, can you have political differences, but we're all in this together, and if we don't stop playing these childish games in national politics and get back to the job at hand we're going to be in the soup.

>> it occurs to me that the majesty is in the presidency, how we elect them, how we inaugurate them, the trappings of office. but thinking that we've had a president assassinated at an exposition. we've had a president assassinated in union station . we've had a president assassinated in athter, and in this perfectly ordinary setting.

>> yes, yes. i think that's what strikes me about here. it's anywhere usa. it's not a great ceremonial something would have to happen here. you go to little big horn , for example. you know something had to have happened here. it was like the setting. no, here, main street . anywhere usa

>> historian and author david mccullough on the kennedy legacy and on this very place.