As President of the National Press Club, Pittston native John P. Cosgrove was already a fixture in Washington, D.C. in 1964 when he was selected Man of the Year by the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

Cosgrove, who by the time he died in 2016 had been photographed with every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover, had invited newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy to his own inauguration at the Press Club in 1961, and not only did Kennedy attend, but he also signed as the official witness to the proceedings.

So, while it was a tremendous honor, it came as no surprise that Cosgrove received an invitation to fly to Pittston for the March 17, 1964 dinner along with Atty. General Robert Kennedy on the Kennedy private plane, “The Caroline.” Bobby Kennedy was to be the principal speaker at the Scranton Friendly Sons event.

Cosgrove often credited Bobby Kennedy’s visit to Scranton and to the Pittston banquet, at which he made an appearance, as helping to heal the fresh wounds of his brother’s assassination the previous November, and to jump start his political future, planting the seeds for his own run at the presidential nomination four years later.

Cosgrove said Bobby was despondent during the plane ride to Scranton. He kept to himself and had little to say, if anything, to those traveling with him. The return trip was a different story, Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove believed the warm overwhelming reception Kennedy received in Scranton and Pittston touched his heart and invigorated his spirit. On the plane back to the capital, Bobby was lighthearted and animated, Cosgrove said. It was obvious that coming here was good for his soul.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist blog Wednesdays and Fridays. His column, The Optimist, is published every week in Greater Pittston Progress.

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