Mayor Julián Castro and Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff laugh after Leo Gomez, president and CEO of Brooks City-Base, introduced Castro as the seventh-sexiest man of 2013, according to Salon.com. The base hosted a commemorative event honoring John F. Kennedy outside the Bedwell Building. Castro and Wolff provided welcome remarks at the event. On this day 50 years ago, Kennedy visited Brooks Air Force Base and had his last official act as president before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Photo by Nicole West
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By Tawseef Ali
Nearly 200 people gathered earlier this afternoon under a tent outside the Bedwell Building for a commemorative event held at Brooks City-Base where 50 years ago president John F. Kennedy presented his last formal public address during the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center.
The infamous “Cap Over the Wall” speech emphasized the importance of space research and the importance of San Antonio in that effort, including those that worked at Brooks Air Force Base School of Aerospace Medicine and the Aerospace Medical Center.
The speech was later said to have resonated with all Americans, in the pursuit of a future in aerospace exploration.
“This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it,” Kennedy said during his 1963 speech.
“I am confident, if President Kennedy was here today, he would be proud of San Antonio,” Mayor Julian Castro said.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, who attended with her city council colleagues, said this was an important event on a historic location.
Speakers included Mayor Julián Castro, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Leo Gomez, CEO of Brooks City-Base and Manuel Peláez-Prada, chairman of Brooks City-Base.
Guests toured the laboratories which President Kennedy visited following his speech. Those facilities are still in use today, operated by Wyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group, San Antonio Operations, according to a Brooks City-Base press release.
In addition to honoring the legacy of JFK, Peláez-Prada spoke of the contribution Brooks City-Base makes to the city. He mentioned the thousands of students who attend A&M-San Antonio Brooks City-Base Campus, growing medical services and the recent record breaking feat of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who had prepared at Brooks prior to his jump.
San Antonio Public Library, in collaboration with Brooks City-Base, will display more than two dozen historic photos of President Kennedy’s visit at the Mission Road Branch Library, tomorrow through January 3. The library is located at 3134 Roosevelt Avenue.
Peláez-Prada went on to highlight the historic value of Brooks City-Base. He mentioned that San Antonio had been home to the Air Force as early as 1917, when world war pilots trained at the location. Glenn Hammond Curtiss, known as the father of aviation, trained at the base, and historic Hangar 9 still stands from that era.
He went on to promise that the historic value of the location would be preserved, and Brooks City-Base would soon be seen as a point of pride for all San Antonians.
“We never forget that we are the stewards of history,” Peláez-Prada said.