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JFK in Mitchell: 50 years ago today

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Politics is on the minds of many today, just as it was 50 years ago when Mitchell welcomed perhaps the biggest political star to ever visit the city. On Sept. 22, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was greeted by a reported 500 people at Mitchell Municipal Airport, and 6,500 reportedly came to the Corn Palace to hear him speak. During his speech, Kennedy pitched the idea that the surplus food produced in South Dakota and elsewhere in the Midwest could be a means to secure peace in the world:

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"As long as the great battle which occupies the attention of the people around the world is how can we eat three times a day, we have strength, because we know how to do it. ... I think the farmers can bring more credit, more lasting goodwill, more chance for freedom, more chance for peace, than almost any other group of Americans in the next 10 years, if we recognize that food is strength, and food is peace, and food is freedom, and food is a helping hand to people around the world whose good will and friendship we want."

After winning the election, Kennedy appointed Mitchell native George McGovern to lead a new Food for Peace program.

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