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Piers Morgan Live
JFK Remembered; Interview with Clint Hill
Aired November 22, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, PIERS MORGAN LIVE HOST: Good evening. This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE looking at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, with the eternal flame. Two days after the assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy requested the flame as a permanent memorial to her slain husband. Today, 50 years later, America and the world are remembering the 35th president. In Dallas, the city where JFK died, a moment of silence at 12:30 local time, the exact moment the fatal shots rolling out in Dealey Plaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE RAWLINGS, DALLAS MAYOR: Ladies and gentlemen, would you join me in a moment of silence in honor of the life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: President Kennedy was cut down before he could finish his first term. And the story of his death, on his legacy, he's overwhelmingly popular with Americans today much more so even when he was alive. Take a look at the latest CNN ORC Poll, JFK is the most popular President of the last half century with a 90 percent approval rating. He's rating on November 1963 which is 58 percent.
I want to begin tonight with a man who stood by the Kennedy's on that tragic day 50 years and on the days that followed. Clint Hill is a secret service agent who jumped on the back of the presidential limo and was haunted by the assassination for decades. His new book is "Five Days in November" and Clint Hill joins me now.
Clint Hill, thank you so much for joining me. I think of all the people who remember this day, yet you were the one who was closest to what happened. You were the agent who jumped on the back of that limousine and realized instantly what had happened to the president of your country.
Tell me how you're feeling today on this 50th anniversary?
CLINT HILL, AUTHOR, "FIVE DAYS IN NOVEMBER": Well it's been rather emotional. We started out the morning in Fort Worth where they headed commemorative breakfast to commemorate 50 years ago where the President and Mrs. Kennedy in the hotel had the same type of breakfast with the Chamber of Commerce and then we came over to Dallas just like 50 years ago and we attended the services in Dealey Plaza.
So, it was an emotional time for me and for many and I'm certainly glad that I could be there.
MORGAN: When you stood at Dealey Plaza, did your mind go back very vividly to what happened 50 years ago?
HILL: Oh, yes. Certainly it did. It did and it does frequently because that's what I think of at least once a day, probably more than that is the -- I ran through my mind what actually happened on Elm Street in Dealey Plaza.
MORGAN: When we see the footage as we are now of the seconds immediately after the bullet began to ring out. You're on a limousine behind. Did you realize immediately that the first shot that impacted on the President was a bullet?
HILL: No. I only recognized it as an explosion of some kind behind me -- to my -- over my right shoulder and but when I scanned toward the noise and saw the President, his movement in the backseat, he grabbed in his throat, he moved sharply to his left. I knew something had happened and I assumed at that point that it must have been a shot. So, that's when I jump off the car and ran.
MORGAN: Right. And you start to run and you're trying to get on the back there. What is going through your mind? Jackie Kennedy starts to reach back. Was she reaching back you because you were, I know her personal bodyguard, or was it as I have read elsewhere that she literally can see parts of her husband's head on the back of the limousine?
HILL: No. She had come up on to the back of the presidential vehicle to retrieve some of the material that came out of the President's head. She didn't realize that I was even there at first until I got a hold of her and pushed her into the back seat. But her purpose was to retrieve some of the material that came out of the President's wound.
MORGAN: You then lie on top of everyone in that car. You're protecting them like a shield as it speeds to the hospital. By this point, did you know for certain that the President was almost definitely dead?
HILL: I was quite sure he was dead because he had fallen into his left and his head was in Mrs. Kennedy's lap. The right side of his face was up and I could see that his eyes were vexed and I could see through a whole in his skull that most of the brain matter in that area had been destroyed. And so, I assumed immediately that it was a fatal wound and that he was dead.
MORGAN: There'd been reports that you gave a thumbs down sign to the limousine behind you with other secret services. Is that correct?
HILL: That is true. I did that to make sure that they understood how serious the situation was.
MORGAN: It took eight minutes to get to the Parkland Hospital in Dallas. It must have been one of the longest eight minutes of your entire life. Talk to me about what was going on in that car. How was Jackie Kennedy oversee the Governor being hit as well? His wife was there. What was -- What was it like to be in that limousine for those eight minutes?
HILL: Well, when the President was shot that -- shot and hit him in the head. Mrs. Kennedy went immediately into shock. So, she tried to retreat and Caroline got her in the seat. She made a couple of comments. She said "I have his brains in my hand." And then she said "Oh Jackie, oh Jackie, what have they done? Jackie, oh Jackie, I love you." That's the only thing she said on the way to Parkland. We were traveling very fast.
I didn't even know at first that the Governor has been shot until Mrs. Connally moved slightly and then because she was covering his body. And then, when she did that, I saw that he was covered in blood, realized he also been shot. At one point, we were going too fast, I turned my head and my sunglasses blew of. So, we got to the hospital as quickly as we could.
MORGAN: When you got there, obviously, the whole hospital went into emergency mode to try and save the President, although sound not to be a fruitless exercise almost in the moment he got there. What was the situation like in the room when he was being up (inaudible)? I believe that you were there briefly and so was the First Lady.
HILL: Yes, we put him into Trauma Room 1 and immediately the medical staff tried to arrive and by the numbers on time, I counted 15 or 17 doctors in and out of there. And it wasn't that large of space and so great number of them could not be in there constantly. And they were trying everything they could to resuscitate him. Mrs. Kennedy was in there periodically and then she'd come out and she'd go back in but they worked on him until roughly one o'clock. And then the doctor just decided that it was fatal and he made the declaration that the President was dead.
MORGAN: And I believe that you persistently called from the President's brother, the Attorney General Robert Kennedy. What did he say to you?
HILL: Well I've been asked to open the line to the White House and to explain what was going on. And in the process, the operator cut in and said the Attorney General which is Robert Kennedy want to talk to me. He asked me a question. He said, "What's going on down there?" Because he really didn't know, all he'd been told was by J. Edgar Hoover that the President had been shot. So, he asked me that question and I tried to explain to him what had happened and that we were in Parkland Hospital. And then he said, "Well, how bad is it?"
And I didn't want to tell him that his brother was dead. I didn't think that was place. And so, I said, "Well, it's as bad as it could get". And when I did that, he just simply hung up the phone. He didn't say another word to me. And that's how he found out what really happened that day.
MORGAN: You were very close to the First Lady. Once it was known that the President was dead, how was she in that moment and did she talk to you about it given that you were her bodyguard at that time?
HILL: She didn't talk to anyone really about it. She broke down. She was in tear. She went -- She was in the room and at one point, she removed her wedding ring from her finger and placed it on the President's. And she was very tearful, sad. It was a very, very touching scene to see her there.
MORGAN: And Clint, what was going through your mind once you knew that you had lost the President on your watch and the watch of all the other secret service agents that day that weren't that many. I believed out of the entire secret services, 38 people, only 10 were actually working on that day. What was -- What was going to your head at that moment? A sense of guilt, I mean, it is I guess your job to keep the President alive. Describe to me the emotions that you were experiencing.
HILL: Well, I did develop a sense of guilt because I thought that I should have been able to do better. I was the only one who had a chance to do anything because the way the entire thing developed. I was on the left hand side of the car behind the President. The shots came over my right shoulder. When I looked towards the shots, I scanned the President's car and saw what happen. The other agents, they looked at toward the noise and they were looking away from the President's car.
So, they didn't realize at first what had happened. By the time they looked back, it was too late for them to react to do anything. So, I felt like I was the only one who had a chance and I just couldn't do it -- get there quick enough.
So, we had this responsibility. You protect the President of United States and we failed that day. And that's bothered me ever since.
MORGAN: I know that you've been back there and you sort of worked out exactly what happened in your mind. When you look at all the footage, do you think you could have reacted any faster? Do you think you could have got there any quicker? Is there any real substance to why you should feel any guilt or did you feel when you went back and retraced all the movements that day from Lee Harvey Oswald to the secret service and so on that really in the end, he held all the cards and there was nothing you could do?
HILL: Well, that's exactly it. He did have all the advantage that day. We didn't have any. And after really evaluating it and looking at everything, I concluded that I have done everything I could that day. There wasn't anything else I could have done and I couldn't have gotten there any faster.
MORGAN: So, when we come back, I want to talk to you about the Kennedy conspiracy theories and about the touching note of Jackie Kennedy wrote to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America. America. God shed His grace on thee. O beautiful for spacious skies ...
MORGAN: We've been seeing in today's memorial in Dallas. Back with me now is Clint Hill, Jackie Kennedy's bodyguard and the author of "Five Days in November."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Clint, that must be have been a very difficult time for Mrs. Kennedy anyway because she had lost her young son Patrick Kennedy and there were obviously still a mourning as a couple before all this. Tell me about the build up to what happened in Texas.
HILL: Well, she wanted to go to Texas. Initially, she came to me and told me that that's what she's going to do because she wanted that President -- wanted to help the President in his reelection bid in -- for 1964. But then, Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations had gone to Dallas and he had been making his speech and he was heckled, and was spat upon. People -- somebody hit him with a placard. And so, it became evident that that it was not really a very welcoming place to visit for some people.
And so, she came to me and asked me about what I thought. I explained to her that it appeared to us that Dallas is no worst than any other place in the south for President and Mrs. Kennedy to visit, that there were going to be some problems no matter where we went but we didn't think they were very serious in Dallas. We knew that there was an element in that society that differed with the President Kennedy's policies but we thought it was manageable and that we didn't see that there was any reason not to go. We had no intelligence information that would give us an indication that there was going to be an attempt or anything serious like that.
MORGAN: This I think was one of Mrs. Kennedy's first public outing since the death of her son, is that right?
HILL: That's true. After Patrick died in August, she decided to get away for a while and so, she went on a trip to Europe and went aboard a yacht and drove in the sea of Greek Islands up into Turkey. And when we came back, and that was at the insistence of the President. And then when we came back, she felt much better. She was recovering from the loss of her son but she was that -- at that time is when she made that decision to go to Texas.
MORGAN: Before the huge state funeral happened, Jackie Kennedy asked the President's casket to be opened before leaving the east room of the White House. Why did she do that and what did she then do?
HILL: Well, she asked that she -- indicated she and her brother- in-law Robert Kennedy wanted to view the President's body. And so, General McCue and I opened the casket to make sure everything was OK. And then, Mrs. Kennedy and the Attorney General walked up to the casket, they viewed the President very briefly, and then she turned to me and said, "Mr. Hill, will you get me a pair of scissors please?" And I run down into the usherette's office and got a pair of scissors, handed them to them and to her and stood there as I heard the clip clip clip. I knew that she was cutting a lack of his hair. They then turned and walked from the east room. She handed me the scissors and she and the Attorney General went up to the family living quarters on the second floor. General McCue and I checked the casket, make sure it was OK and if the casket was then sealed and it was never reopened.
MORGAN: We're then obviously looking in pictures here from the funeral itself and there's the iconic image of Jacqueline Kennedy and obviously her young son giving the saluting. You're in that picture. When you look at that image and you must see it so often I guess, again, what goes through your mind? What would you feel about the future of America and this family that you've become so close to?
HILL: Well, that's one of the photographs that really reminds me how sad the occasion was. That happened to be the day of the president's funeral but it also was young John's third birthday. And he had learned how to salute. And when the President's casket was brought out and placed on the case on, all the military present saluted the President.
And then, Mrs. Kennedy leaned over and whispered in John's ear. He said something. I'm not sure exactly what she said but he threw his shoulders back and he saluted his father. And I don't think there was a dry eye from the highest ranking general to the lowest private and the entire group that were there. And it's still when I see it even today, it -- I get choked up often times when I see that photograph.
MORGAN: Yes. Completely understandable. I think might everybody choke up and still does. Let's talk about Jacqueline Kennedy. You stayed with her I think for another year. Did you ever talked to her again about the assassination or was it something you just didn't discuss?
HILL: That was a subject that either she or I discussed with each other. We did not talk about the assassination at all.
MORGAN: There's a very powerful note that you have, a handwritten note from the first lady, the back of your book which is full of the most extraordinary pictures and beautifully written and designed. I have to say very powerful, but the note says, "To Clint Hill who did more than anyone to make my life with the President happy and who guarded and protected him until the very end. How can I thank you? Jacqueline Kennedy." That must have made you very proud after all that the misery of what had gone before.
HILL: Yes, that was very pleasing to me that she would take the time and write that note to me. And indicated to me that I helped her in some way and that her life there during that three-year period whenever in the White House that was a happy period in her life.
MORGAN: And finally, Clint Hill, of all the raging conspiracy theories, you must have I guess gone through them all in your head, write everything, seen everything. But you're coming in from such a unique perspective, did any of them have any possible credence to you if you ever had a scintilla of doubt that it was just Lee Harvey Oswald acting a lot?
HILL: None of them had given me any indication that they are anything but theory. There's never been any fact involved with any of them. And I hear a new and almost everyday. So, I mean and it continues but none of them are really factual, they're just stories that are made up. I don't know exactly why but they don't do anybody any good and just lead to more problem.
MORGAN: What is your favorite memory of the Kennedy's? Obviously, we know that the worst moment that you have with them. What is your favorite moment when you look back?
HILL: Well, the favorite moments are those when the four of them were together, the President, Mrs. Kennedy, and her their two children whether they were out on a boat up in Hines, Florida or down in Palm Beach and with the president and Caroline, John, and Mrs. Kennedy swimming off the boat, or out in Middleburg, Virginia where they had a country place and to Mrs. Kennedy and Caroline, and John will be riding horses and enjoying themselves and the President watching them and enjoying what they were doing. He couldn't ride because of his back but he really like to be out there kind of away in the crowd and spend that time with his wife and children. That was when they appeared to be happiest and that made me happy to see that.
MORGAN: Clint Hill, you did a remarkable thing that day. I mean you went to risk your life putting yourself if you could between this assassin and the President not knowing what may have happened and for that on behalf of everyone in America, I'm sure I'll speak for everyone when I say, I thank you for your service that day and we will share your grief about what happened and 50 years on that grief I'm sure for you is as intense as for anybody else. So, I really appreciate you joining me.
HILL: Well, thank you very much Piers.
MORGAN: Remarkable man. When we come back, the doctor who tried to save the President, also the Kennedy family on JFK's legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Kennedy has been given a blood transfusion at Parkland Hospital here in Dallas in an effort to save his life. After he and Governor John Connally of Texas were shot in an assassination attempt in downtown Dallas. A (inaudible) has been ordered, emergency supplies have brought also being raced through the hospital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A radio report from the John F. Kennedy live. The President's car sped to Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital. And doctors were racing to trauma room one.
Dr. Ronald Jones is one of the first to see the wounded President. Julian Read an aide to Texas Governor John Connally was riding the motorcade when the shots rang out. They both join me know. I thought you would -- you were actually in the White House (inaudible) behind the limousine itself.
I suppose the question from both of you right off the top, how does it feel to being involved so directly in an event of such magnitude? Let me ask you first, Julian.
JULIAN READ, AUTHOR JFK'S FINAL HOURS IN TEXAS: Well, of course it's an event that none of us planned be involved in. So, the shock was enormous. You didn't have time really to have emotions at that time. I think those of us who are involved and I think you went on sort of automatic ___, you know, to do what you just distinctly know to do.
MORGAN: Dr. Jones, you were 31 years old. You've been operating that day in part of the surgical team. You're in the cafeteria relaxing and you got -- somebody runs in, they tell you. How does that happen? They say the President has been shot.
RONALD JONES, MD, CHIEF DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY, MEDICAL CENTER: Well, operator paged overhead. We didn't have beepers and so there was a loud speaker. And she began to page people stat respond immediately repeatedly with the department chairman and I went to the phone in the wall of the cafeteria and I called her and I said, "Why are you paging everyone stat?" And she said, "Dr. Jones the president has been shot. And they bringing him to the emergency room and they need physicians right away." And with that you have a tremendous flash, an adrenaline rush come over you and...
MORGAN: I mean it cannot be a more important moment in a surgeon's life in America that your president has been shot and he's coming to your theater.
JONES: That's correct. And I immediately turned around and saw the chief of anesthesia and the OR supervisor. And he said I'll get an anesthesia machine to the emergency room right away. And Miss Bell said I'll get the OR ready because we thought he'd probably been shot chest or the abdomen. And we could revive him and take care of him surgically. But when we reach the emergency room that was a different story.
MORGAN: We're you very quickly aware that he was unlikely to survive?
READ: As soon as I walked in to trauma room one and saw him -- Mrs. Kennedy was on the left inside of the room. He was on a stretcher; arms were out on arm boards. And I saw a small wound in his neck but I knew he had a large wound in the back of his head. And I saw no evidence of life but Dr. Perrico (ph) who was a secondary resident thought he saw some respiration just as he came in the room and we were probably a minute later. And that's what triggered the resuscitation. MORGAN: I believe Julian read that you arrived at the hospital then you saw both Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Connally sitting in the hall outside the trauma rooms. I mean, again, a remarkable moment to witness personally. What was it like in real time?
READ: Well, I run into the end of the -- I found the open door at the end of the hospital, remarkable, you know, no one there, no security. And I found the nurse very quickly and asked her if she take me to Mrs. Connally. And she did, and I found Mrs. Connally in the dark hallway, (inaudible) outside the trauma room two, the President was in trauma room one. She was sitting outside there and right across was Jackie Kennedy, two women not a sound spoken, thinking about their husbands and whether they could survive.
MORGAN: Did you say anything to them?
READ: Well, I talked to her. I talked to her. I certainly didn't say anything to Mrs. Kennedy. I talked to her because I knew the press would be there any minute and I had to kind of know what happened. I want to be able to report what had occurred.
So, she was calm. Nellie Connally was very calm even under stress. And she knew he was already inside, you know, and hence, to save him hopefully.
MORGAN: And he did thankfully.
READ: And he did. Thank God.
MORGAN: He did survive.
READ: That was a good thing that came out of that.
MORGAN: Right. The President obviously did not survive. He was read the last rights I think by two Catholic priests that came into the room. The moment when he was pronounced dead, I mean that's a chilling moment, isn't it, for you?
JONES: Well, yes. I -- we knew he was dead after we had performed the tracheotomy and I did the cut down and he's got an IV going, inserted chest tubes, and we had an electrocardiogram, an EKG heart machine brought in.
MORGAN: What are you thinking? I mean, you know, there you are. You got your President there, fighting for his life. What is going through your mind at age 31?
JONES: Well, you're thinking, you know, how did I get here? The odds of me taking care of a President must be one in infinitesimal.
MORGAN: Did you manage to stay calm or you -- how would you describe your state?
JONES: I think we kicked in to a routine management of a coma patient. And knowing that it was the President but still you get an airway, you get an IV going, and you assess the injuries. And that's what we did initially.
And then we knew that -- I thought probably he was not going to make it anyway. But we decided we would try to do something rather than do nothing.
MORGAN: Then unbelievably, you happened to be in the hospital again. You got another call, Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin, has himself been shot. And again, you're operating him.
JONES: Well, I was in the operating room lounge when the call came and I went up to call to get Dr. Perry and Dr. Jenkins. We went down to trauma room two which is the same room that Governor Connally had been in. And when they brought Oswald in, he was unconscious. Didn't have any blood pressure but he did have a heart beat. I listened.
And obviously he lived for an hour and 20 minutes in the operating room. But I did the same thing with him that I did with President Kennedy. I put an IV in the left arm with a cut down and I put a chest tube in because he had been shot in the left chest. And we head him to the operating room. Within about 10 minutes from the time he came to the emergency room, Dr. Tom Shires was the chief surgeon and I was one of four.
MORGAN: Is there a single day that goes by in your life when you don't think of this?
JONES: There are many that go by because something reminds you of it one way or the other.
MORGAN: But particularly now in the build up ...
JONES: Sure. Now, it's just on an hour to hour basis that you're involved with this. Because so many people are interested and then so many people want to asked you about it.
MORGAN: Final question for you, Julian. I've asked a few guests this. But do you subscribe to any conspiracy theory or do you think that Oswald acted alone?
READ: I don't believe there's anything that we haven't heard already. There's always another craft (ph) of conspiracies that comes around every time. But I don't think it will ever stop.
MORGAN: Julian Read and Dr. Jones, thank you both very much indeed. Fascinating to talk to you.
President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital at 1:00 p.m., Central Standard Time. At 2:38, the moment Walter Cronkite was telling a stunned nation the President was dead, Lyndon Johnson was taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One, the same plane that was carrying Kennedy's body back to Washington.
That plane is now at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The story of Jeff Underwood takes us onboard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF UNDERWOOD, HISTORIAN, US NATIONAL MUSEUM: We are standing here onboard, President John Kennedy's Air Force One at the National Museum, United States Air Force.
This is the very room where Vice President Johnson took the oath of office and this is the very place where he stood. Now, as we move back towards the rear of the aircraft, you can see that the seats were kind of tight but that's because this was a working aircraft and flew for the Air Force and carrying presidents and VIPs for 36 years, a long career. And now, it has a new career here at the National Museum.
As we go a little bit further back, we come to the area which is the galley, where the president meals were prepared. But then we also see the series of seat to the very back. These very four sits are the ones that the air crew hold out to move out of the way, and then took a saw and cut the bulk head just along here to make sure there's a room and they brought the president's casket in and brought it in and laid it along here.
And this is where Mrs. Kennedy sat on that fateful day on a terrible flight back from Dallas to Washington DC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Jeff Underwood, thank you very much. President Kennedy's death was of course more than national tragedy. It was a very personal tragedy for his family.
When we come back, I'll talk to his nephew Robert Kennedy Jr., and his niece, Kerry Kennedy.
WOLF BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EARL WARREN, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Now that he is relieved of the almost superhuman burden we imposed on him, may he rest in piece.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Chief Justice Earl Warren's moving eulogy for President John F. Kennedy. My next guest were still children when JFK died, but who better to talk about his legacy.
Joining me now, President Kennedy's nephew and niece, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy. Welcome to both of you.
Kerry, let me start with you. You were just four years old and I know you don't really have any memory of that awful day. But in terms of the legacy of JFK, what would you think it should be as a member of the family? KERRY KENNEDY, JOHN F. KENNEDY'S NIECE: Well, you know, I think that he was a man who really loved our country and tried to make our policy both domestically and the internationally reflective of our greatest values of democracy, of caring about people who live in poverty, of making sure that everyone in our country actually had a vote and was able to go to the polls and vote.
So, I think that's why we remember him as a great leader and as somebody who is fun and full of youth and vigor.
MORGAN: Robert, you've written this fascinating piece for the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine which paints him very much as a man of peace, a man who despite all the conflict that was raging both domestically and on the foreign stage really was seeking all the time to avoid conflict.
ROBERT KENNEDY JR., JOHN F. KENNEDY'S NEPHEW: Yes. He told his friends that he was basically at peace with any previous president. Despite the kind of cold war palaver that he used during his campaign, privately, he was a war hero, he was a war veteran, he had seen the capriciousness, the savagery of war.
There was a consensus among the Joint Chief of Staff at that time that we're all World War II veterans and heroes and icons that the Soviet Union had -- we were way ahead of the Soviets with the nuclear armaments but that they were going to catch up to us in 1965.
And that we needed -- a nuclear war was not only inevitable but it was desirable and it was desirable in a short term before they had the capacity to catch up. So, they kept trying to trip President Kennedy into nuclear war. And one of the things that I talked about in that article is his Vietnam record and it's become fashionable today to look at Vietnam as kind of a continuum that started with Eisenhower then proceeded with Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, et cetera, but in fact, Jack went beyond anything that I think any president has done to keep us out of Vietnam and he intended.
In fact, a month before he died, he issued a national security order making that the official policy of the United States to get us out of Vietnam, the first thousand troops home by the end of November and all US personnel out of Vietnam by the end of 1965 and that was his intention. He repeatedly stated it to his advisors. He went against all of his advisors doing it but it was -- he refused to put ground troops in.
MORGAN: Amazing. Kerry, we got this fabulous pictures, an iconic image is you playing hide and seek inside the Oval Office with President Kennedy there, and with Caroline, I think it was, isn't it?
K. KENNEDY: Yes, that's the two of us.
MORGAN: There you are. When you see that picture, what do you think?
K. KENNEDY: Well, it just brings back so much joy of my youngest years. You know, when Jack was President, daddy was the Attorney General at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
You know, mostly, I remember also being at the Cape and waiting for those helicopters to come down every Friday and they would bring my uncle, Jack, and my father and uncle Sarge and others who are so close to our family and we'd sort of go rushing down the hill and see them. And that Jack would always pick us up and put us into a golf cart that my grandfather had and sort of go whipping around the compound. So it's a lot of fun.
But, you know, I think that the reason people really think about Jack and remember him is I think that's true of Jack and also of my father is that they really brought out the best in all of us and they didn't appeal to our anger or our rage or our fear about the world. But they appealed to the best of us, the side of us that says we can be a country in peace, we can have compassion towards those who have nothing.
MORGAN: How will the Kennedy family as a unit remember JFK on the anniversary itself? Is there a plan for a family get together?
K. KENNEDY: Well, you know, our family really tries to celebrate his birthday and not his day of death. So, my father was actually born November 20th. And every year on his birthday, we present the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Before we present it, we always go to Arlington Cemetery. What we should be looking at is not how this men died but how they lived.
And really questioning what can we learn from that and how can we take that value and vision and apply it to the challenges we face as a nation or as a family today.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. When we come back, I want to ask both of you. Is there another chance of another Kennedy ever coming to the White House? You're all such talented people. Where are the next prospects? Let's talk about that.
MORGAN: Back now with John F. Kennedy's nephew and niece, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy. Let me ask you, Robert, obviously, you're an incredibly large family, iconic family in America. We saw your cousin, Caroline, sworn as Ambassador to Japan.
Her son, JFK's grandson, Jack, was there, looking very handsome like all the Kennedy boys, immediately exciting all the media. Is there anybody in the family as you look at it do you think could genuinely have the political drive and aspiration to perhaps one day run for president?
R. KENNEDY: Well, I don't know what the future is. I can tell you this, my nephew, Joe Kennedy, is in Congress today and there -- he has I think 85 cousins. They get together on the Cape during July and August. They talk almost continuously about politics, I think virtually all of them will end up in some way doing public service because that's just part of the institutional culture and DNA of our family. So, I think you're going to see a lot of Kennedy's; people will be tired of Kennedy's very soon. I think one of the greatest legacies of President Kennedy was that it sort of altered the view of the United States. That, you know, we were a force for good, that we understood that corporate domination at a home was the partner of imperialism and truculence abroad that the National Security State was incompatible with our constitutional freedoms and we had to win over the world by our example.
By living up to our ideals, by perfecting the union and not by force of arms and that we were going to be remembered which was what President Kennedy used to say, not, you know, by the wealth of our citizens, the size of our army or the power of our weapons or our industry, but rather how we care for the least fortunate members of our society. How strongly we resisted the seduction of the notion that we can advance ourselves, the people by living our poor brothers and sisters behind.
And how we made ourselves as an example, a template for Democracy for the rest of the world, not by beating people up, not by fighting their wars for them but by making, by practicing social justice at home, and by making ourselves a model for justice and for Democracy and I think that that people around the world saw then. Kerry and I almost every week we meet. Kids, people from Africa, adults whose name is Kennedy, we still go into huts in Latin America and Africa which had pictures of my uncle or my father and people still, you know, remembered.
And that made an impression what his pursuit for peace and his pursuit of civil rights and justice at home was something that, you know, that even if the press tries to deny it or, you know, or historians or whatever is something that at that time and for a generation afterwards, virtually everybody in the world recognized that this was America at its best.
MORGAN: Yes, completely true that -- Kerry and Robert it's been great talking to you. Thank you both very much indeed.
K. KENNEDY: Thank you.
MORGAN: I really do appreciate it.
R.KENNEDY: Thank you Piers.
MORGAN: When we come back 10 people are carrying on John F Kennedy's legacy service on CNN Heroes of 2013.
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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Chris Cuomo. This is CNN.
MORGAN: CNN Heroes, an All Star tribute on celebration of the top ten heroes of the year and their extraordinary work helping is just a week away. The stars on a (gala) December of 1st at 8 PM Eastern, right now, Entertainment Corresponded Nischelle Turner is at behind the scenes looking preparations for the big event.
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NISCHELLE TURNER, ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDED: Hey there everybody. I'm Nichelle Turner and I'm going to give you a back stage look at what it takes to put this whole CNN Heroes award show together. Are you ready for this? It's going to be cool. All right come with me.
This year, we're back in New York baby at the American Museum of National History where the very first CNN Heroes took place seven years ago.
KELLY FLYNN, SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN HEROES: And I can't believe it's been that long and we're trilled to be back here. It's iconic and it's beautiful.
TURNER: And the first stop of the night for these everyday heroes and celebrity, the red carpet.
Wow, look at it in here. Look at all these lights. You know, work like this takes hundreds of people to set up, working around the cloth, and then, the centerpiece of the evening.
This year CNN Heroes will be honored right here in the whaleroom, where one of the museums biggest treasures will be watching over us all night. I'm talking about this lady right here.
But that's not all that has to be done to get ready for the special event, 51 tables to set up, nine cameras to put in place and one giant video monitor.
JEFF KEPNES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN SPECIAL EVENTS: You wouldn't believe just really what it takes to put something like this on. And, you know, we had about two days to bring it in and set it all up.
TURNER: Transforming this beautiful room from this to this, all to honor 10 everyday people who are changing the world.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST AC360 LATER: It's just a nice thing to honor these people. These people they don't get the limelight. They don't get on or they don't have celebrities sign their names and tracing their work. It's a nice thing for them. It's a nice pat on the back.
TURNER: A pat on the back from CNN that becomes a very special night of inspiration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I was there along with Host Anderson Cooper and a variety of so many presenters and performers. And I can tell you, it was a quite an evening.
See it to yourself, CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute next Sunday, December the 1st at 8 PM Eastern.