In our last “Did You Know,” we talked about the USS Arizona memorial, which honored those who died on what Franklin D. Roosevelt called a “date which will live in infamy” (see https://www.dahlgrenmuseum.org/post/did-you-know-december-7-2023). The man who dedicated that memorial was himself linked to a date that those who were alive for would remember well. The December 21, 1961, issue of the Dahlgren base’s The Laboratory Log included President John F. Kennedy’s Christmas greetings to our armed forces. After his assassination on November 22, 1963, the country entered into an official thirty-day mourning period. That Christmas, in the December 23rd edition of The Laboratory Log, Naval Weapons Laboratory Commander Capt. Robert F. Sellars and Naval Space Surveillance System Commanding Officer Capt. Edward F. van Lier Ribbink referred to “this present holiday season whose beginning was marred by an unbelievable tragedy” but offered “To All Hands and to their loved ones…warm personal wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Here, sixty years later, we would like to wish our community a happy holiday season and strive to carry out Sellars’ and Ribbink’s belief that, “In troubled, dangerous times America stands as a bulwark of faith and benevolence.”
Caption: 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) and his message from the December 21, 1961, edition of The Laboratory Log of the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, VA.