LA Memorial Coliseum Olympic Torch Lit in Remembrance of President Kennedy

Kennedy delivered his "New Frontier" speech at the Coliseum to accept his party's nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention

The Olympic torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was lit Friday in memory of President John F. Kennedy -- one of many events around in the country to mark 50 years since his assassination.

Full Coverage: JFK50 | Motorcade Route | JFK's Texas Trip

Kennedy spoke at the venue, site of two Olympic Games, in Exposition Park  when he accepted his party's nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Gil Garcetti, A former Los Angeles District Attorney, said he met Kennedy before he left town from the convention. Garcetti was attending the University of Southern California at the time.

"He must have seen my Air Force ROTC uniform because he reached out and we touched,” Garcetti recalls.

Kennedy was assassinated three years later in Dallas.

The torch high above the Coliseum atop the arch was lit at 12:01 a.m. It will remain lit for 24 hours during a national day of remembrance for Kennedy.


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Kennedy's July 15, 1960 speech at the Coliseum became known as "The New Frontier" speech. Then-Sen. Kennedy said, "The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them."

Transcript: "The New Frontier" Speech

Diane Garrison, a member of the class of 1963 at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, recalls her prom being booted from the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel that year for a Kennedy fundraiser.

She said when the president found out, he gave the main hall back to the students, and dropped in for a visit. Students hoping for that situation planned ahead and gave Kennedy a plaque.

“I just stared at him,” Garrison said.

President Barack Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff. Thousands will be in Dallas' Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot as his motorcade passed, for a remembrance ceremony.

The Coliseum, home field for the USC Trojans football team since it opened in 1923, has played host to two Olympics, two Super Bowls and a World Series. 

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