by Charly Mann
On October 12th, 1961 President John F. Kennedy came to Chapel Hill to receive an honorary degree and make a speech at Kenan Stadium. I had been an admirer of the President since 1960, when I was in the fifth grade, and he responded to a letter I sent to him about protecting Martin Luther King. For some reason on this day I worried about his safety in the motorcade he would be traveling in up Raleigh Road to get to Kenan Stadium. I knew the hilly dense woods that overlooked much of this route because they were near my house on Greenwood Road, and I hiked through them several times a week. I sensed someone could easily find places to conceal themselves in this area to take a shot at the President. Luckily nothing happened, but decades later I learned from this audio interview (see player at bottom of this article) with the then President of the University, Bill Friday, that the Secret Service had many threats on the President's life to worry about when he came to Chapel Hill.
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What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.