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Kennedy praised NC leaders as 'enlightened and progressive' in UNC speech

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

President John F. Kennedy visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for University Day on Oct. 12, 1961 – the same day he met with paratroopers at Fort Bragg.

UNC presented him with an honorary degree. In a speech at Kenan Stadium, Kennedy called UNC an "ancient and distinguished university."

He told students, "North Carolina has long been identified with enlightened and progressive leaders and people, and I can think of no more important reason for that reputation than this university."

Lila Friday, who was at the school the day Kennedy spoke, said she remembers the feeling and excitement and energy Kennedy brought when he spoke.She said that day was the perfect mix of history and the future.

"I think it was partly a message of inspiration around the theme that he brought to the whole country," Friday said. "You know we can do things together, we can get out and accomplish wonderful things for this country we love so much."

University Day at Carolina honors the founding of the school.

You can hear Kennedy's speech to the school here:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHA-051-004.aspx

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