BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Fifty-six years ago, at the height of the Cold War, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency opened their State Emergency Operations Center.
It was a state-of-the-art, blast-proof underground bunker, designed with continuity of government in mind. If disaster struck, the facility would allow the state's leaders to govern safely.
One guest was unable to make it, though—President John F. Kennedy, who had worked to fund the facility as well as other civil defense and preparedness efforts.
His office sent a letter of regret, along with a signed photo inscribed with the president's "best wishes." But on the day the letter was dated, tragedy struck.
"The president couldn't attend the opening," MEMA's Chris Besse told WBZ NewsRadio. "The ironic piece of it is that the date of the letter is Novembrer 22, 1963, which is obviously the day President Kennedy was assassinated."
Besse said the photo and letter—which MEMA tweeted out Friday—are still on display.
"We do have those hanging up in our lobby still today at MEMA in our headquarters in Framingham, really as a tribute to President Kennedy and his work in funding the facility and civil defense back in the day, and bringing us to where we are today," Besse said. "It's kind of an ironic, and a little bit chilling, piece of history that ties President Kennedy to Massachusetts to the Cold War to nuclear preparedness and civil defense, and really, to where we are today in terms of emergency management and the facility that still operates today."
WBZ NewsRadio's Laurie Kirby (@LaurieWBZ) reports