I especially appreciated the commemoration of President John F. Kennedy’s “poetry
and power” address at Amherst 40 years ago in the Fall/Winter issue of
Amherst. My wife, Laura (Smith ’65), and I became “pinned” that
day, and JFK’s remarks helped stimulate what eventually became for me a
19-year career of public service with the federal government and 38 years (and
still going) of community volunteer service. Amherst can
be proud of the significant role that its sons and daughters
traditionally have played, and continue to play, in leadership
and support roles in public service, the military and volunteer
organizations. This is no coincidence; it was taught us consciously and subconsciously
Jerold L. Jacobs ’65
What a great pleasure it was to relive the Kennedy visit to Amherst and to be
able to hear his voice again. He mentioned preserving our old American buildings.
As a San Francisco city guide, I lead tours of the old Victorians here in the
of these buildings were preserved with the help of FACE grants that were offered
during his administration.
There was much, much more that I enjoyed in Amherst this time and only wish there
had been more images from the Folger. Thank you for a wonderful edition.
San Francisco, Calif.
I have been enjoying the expanded quarterly with much timely information on the
college. The write-up on the JFK visit was most interesting. The person who set
up the visit was Jim Reed, a classmate of mine in the Class of 1941. Jim was
one of the star athletes of our period, who went on to Harvard Law and who was
in the PT squadron with Jack Kennedy. He was a very close friend of Kennedy,
who appointed him assistant secretary of the treasury. Jim and JFK had discussed
an honorary degree for Jack at Amherst [which led to the visit].
John Jinishian ’41
Old Greenwich, Conn.
I especially enjoyed reading two pieces in the Fall/Winter issue: “JFK
Remembered” and “The Poet and the President,” both
involving JFK’s visit to the Fairest College just one day short
of four weeks before his assassination. Like my friend and
classmate Doug Wilson ’62 [quoted in “JFK Remembered”], I was
there that day, [in my case] with my commander in chief.
At that time I was a young Navy intelligence officer working at the Pentagon.
Lee Perlman ’62
Painting the town red
Here are some questions for fellow alumni, prompted by Justice Antonin Scalia’s
February visit to the college: Have you ever made your annual contribution to
the Alumni Fund, only to be overcome by apprehension that your gift will be used
to subsidize a grim intellectual gulag dominated by a hard-core cadre
of left-wing academics? Have you ever had second thoughts about sending your
sons and daughters to Amherst out of concern that, after four years of subjection
to a ruthless regimen of political reeducation, even the strongest among them
are likely to succumb to that syndrome in which captives begin to identify with
their captors? Who among them, you might ask yourself, could ever recover from
the progressive debilitation that results from a steady diet of stale collectivist
gruel? How could they ever stand upright again after suffering the steely blows
of the ideological hammer wielded by the faculty’s commissars of
Have you observed how the left uses diversity not as a means of enlivening intellectual
debate, but as a front behind which
to build its army of true believers? It presses institutions like Amherst to
recruit particular groups of students who, according to its hothouse theories,
are aggrieved and oppressed. Then, once these students are in its clutches, the
college does everything in its power to convince them that they are in fact aggrieved
and oppressed. Instead of inviting these students to reflect seriously on traditional
political and moral understandings, it bludgeons them into believing that those
understandings are the source of their oppression.
Do you believe that the principal mission of the college is to foster a climate
in which diverse opinions thrive and clash? Do you believe that those who reject
traditional moral and political understandings should encounter intellectual
scrutiny as rigorous as that directed against those who embrace these ideas?
Do you believe that the college has utterly failed in that mission?
If so, then it is time to unite and rise up. It is time to cut the shackles that
bind Amherst students to the chain gang of the left. Bringing Justice Antonin
Scalia to campus was just the start. Now we must turn to the work of the real
Joseph H. Nesler ’78
Baghdad mail call
I am Class of ’98 and have just returned from a year in Baghdad, Iraq,
with the U.S. Army. My father would send Amherst magazine to me every quarter,
and it was a huge boost to my spirits. It really is a fantastic magazine—well
done, and thank you.
Paul Rieckhoff ’98