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JFK Democratic Club Keeps Late President's Progressive Message Alive

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As the number of Americans who remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy decline a group of New Yorkers are continuing to honor the late president's memory through a group that bears his name. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Sibyl Silberstein says November 22, 1963 is a day she will never forget.

"I remember I was home and I had just finished making lunch for my children and I had the radio on and they had broke in with a bulletin saying that he had been shot as shortly thereafter that he had died," Silberstein recalled.

Silberstein is a member of the Queens-based John F. Kennedy Democratic Club, which was the Alfred E. Smith club, until the name was changed to honor the fallen president. Democratic District Leader Maureen Allen was nine years old when JFK was murdered.

"Watching my parents cry all weekend long was not something, in those days you rarely saw men cry, but I saw my father cry all weekend long," Allen said.

Club members who were old enough to follow JFK say he was an inspiration for them to get more involved with politics.

"I remember images of him when he gave press conferences in particular, and just the way he charmed the press, and he had that ability with language," said Gary Gilbert, a JFK Democratic Club member.

"He was young, our politics fit in with his, he had an attractive family, he was a hope for the future and we just lost a, it was a terrible tragedy," Silberstein said.

The club remembers John F. Kennedy at their annual dinner. The honoree receives a bust of JFK.

Younger members who learned about him in history class say what they've learned about him drives the work they do in their community.

"At the Catholic school library where I went to school, everybody wanted to take out the book 'Meet John F. Kennedy.' So even though I was born afterward, his presence was still felt," said JFK Democratic Club President Matthew DiStefano.

"I mean President Kennedy made it really cool to be a progressive, he made it really cool to really espouse liberal ideas that now have become so common place as we saw in this last election," said George Fanjul, a JFK Democratic Club member.

Fanjul says when they seek out candidates to support, they look for people who are not afraid to embrace new ideas like JFK did.

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